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The Angelus

Angelus / Angel

The Angelus takes its name from the Latin word for angel from the prayer’s first verse “Angelus Domini nuntiavit Mariae” [The angel of the Lord appeared unto Mary].

The Angelus is a short devotional prayer which today is recited three times a day at morning, noon and evening and is often accompanied by the ringing of a bell.   Even our modern day Divine Office apps such as Universalis and other phone and tablet apps have alerts in the form of  chiming bells that remind us to pray the Angelus at 6am, 12 mid-day and 6pm.

 

Three Hail Marys

The prayer recites Hail Mary three times wrapped around four verses and a final prayer.  The Angelus honours four aspects of Mary.  The Annunciation when Gabriel appeared to Mary, her importance in God’s plan of the Incarnation, her self-giving and Mary’s intercessory role for us. The Angelus also reminds us of the Passion of Christ and his resurrection.

 

First Documentary Evidence of The Angelus

Although the history of The Angelus is difficult to ascertain it’s thought to have formed from the Franciscan 13th Century tradition of praying three Hail Marys following the ringing of bell at Compline [the last canonical hours of prayer – at bedtime].

The first documented evidence is from St Bonaventure in the convocation of the General Chapter of the Friars Minor:

“At the twentieth chapter, celebrated three years lat­er, 1269, at Assisi the General [St Bonaventure] reminded the assembled Friars of the wish of the Seraphic Founder that every Saturday a Mass be celebrated in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary . It was his love for and devotion to the Blessed Mother that also prompted the General to ad­monish the priests of the Order to preach to the people the pious custom of reciting three times daily the ‘Ange­lus’ in honour of the mystery of the Annunciation. This universal custom of reciting the Angelus at morning, noon and ‘at the Knell of parting day’ is rightly attributed to St. Francis and to his friars.”

A Documented History of the Franciscan Order 1182-1517 : Raphael Mary Huber

 

Mobile phone apps for the Angelus - Hail Mary
Two different mobile phone apps for the Angelus

 

The Catechism of the Catholic Church

The CCC tells us the following about the prayer of the Virgin Mary

2617 Mary’s prayer is revealed to us at the dawning of the fullness of time. Before the incarnation of the Son of God, and before the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, her prayer cooperates in a unique way with the Father’s plan of loving kindness: at the Annunciation, for Christ’s conception; at Pentecost, for the formation of the Church, his Body.88 In the faith of his humble handmaid, the Gift of God found the acceptance he had awaited from the beginning of time. She whom the Almighty made “full of grace” responds by offering her whole being: “Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be [done] to me according to your word.” “Fiat“: this is Christian prayer: to be wholly God’s, because he is wholly ours.

2618 The Gospel reveals to us how Mary prays and intercedes in faith. At Cana,89 the mother of Jesus asks her son for the needs of a wedding feast; this is the sign of another feast – that of the wedding of the Lamb where he gives his body and blood at the request of the Church, his Bride. It is at the hour of the New Covenant, at the foot of the cross,90 that Mary is heard as the Woman, the new Eve, the true “Mother of all the living.”

88 Cf. Lk 1:38; Acts 1:14.
89 Cf. Jn 2:1-12.
90 Cf. Jn 19:25-27.
91 Cf. Lk 1:46-55.

 

The Angelus : Latin and English

V. Angelus Domini nuntiavit Mariae;
R. Et concepit de Spiritu Sancto.

V. The angel of the Lord declared unto Mary;
R. And she conceived of the Holy Spirit.

Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum. Benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Iesus.
Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc, et in hora mortis nostrae.
Amen.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now, and in the hour of our death.
Amen.

V. Ecce ancilla Domini.
R. Fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum.

V. Behold the handmaid of the Lord:
R. Be it done unto me according to Thy word.

Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum. Benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Iesus.
Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc, et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now, and in the hour of our death.
Amen.

V. Et Verbum caro factum est.
R. Et habitavit in nobis.

V. And the Word was made flesh:
R. And dwelt among us.

Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum. Benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Iesus.
Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc, et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now, and in the hour of our death.
Amen.

V. Ora pro nobis, sancta Dei Genetrix.
R. Ut digni efficiamur promissionibus Christi.

V. Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Oremus:
Gratiam tuam, quaesumus, Domine, mentibus nostris infunde; ut qui, Angelo nuntiante, Christi Filii tui incarnationem cognovimus, per passionem eius et crucem, ad resurrectionis gloriam perducamur. Per eundem Christum Dominum nostrum.
R. Amen.

Let us pray:
Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts, that we, to whom the incarnation of Christ, Thy Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may by His passion and cross be brought to the glory of His resurrection, through the same Christ our Lord.
R. Amen.

Elizabeth is a member of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham and lives on the Isle of Wight where she enjoys walks along the beach with Alfie her Cairn Terrier. She has had an interest in Franciscan Spirituality for over 20 years.