The Hail Mary is a prayer in the Catholic Church to Mary, the mother of Jesus, who intercedes on behalf of the person praying to Jesus and to all of the departed saints.
Priests in confessionals often prescribe a number of “Hail Marys” that must be done in penance for a person’s sins.
The beginning of the prayer comes from the Bible, when the angel Gabriel told Mary she was going to give birth to the Savior.
“Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you” was the way the angel greeted her.
The second part of the prayer is also taken from the Bible, from the story in which Mary tells her cousin Elizabeth about her divine conception.
Elizabeth says, “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb.”
The last part was added sometime in the 1400s by the Church: “Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.”
Saying the prayer in this order constitutes one Hail Mary.