The Hail Mary Explained for Protestants Part Three: The Holy Name

Love is never monotonous in the uniformity of its expression. The mind is infinitely variable in its language, but the heart is not. The heart of a man, in the face of the woman he loves, is too poor to translate the infinity of his affection into a different word. So the heart takes one expression, “I love you,” and in saying it over and over again, it never repeats. It is the only real news in the universe. That is what we do when we say the Rosary, we are saying to God, the Trinity, to the Incarnate Saviour, to the Blessed Mother: “I love you, I love you, I love you.”

Venerable Fulton Sheen


The third in my series explaining why the Hail Mary is a prayer for all Christians not just Catholics.

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

In part 1 the Angelic Salutation, we talked about how the opening words of the Hail Mary, taken directly from the greeting of the Angel Gabriel, signifies not only the importance of Mary as the very first Christian but her position relative to the heavenly host.

In Part 2 the Human confirmation, we noted how the words of the Angel to Mary taken directly Elizabeth’s greeting from scripture signifies the confirmation of the angel’s message and that in addition to the angels it is for man both born and unborn to honor Mary in every generation.

So let’s begin part 3: The Holy Name:

It might seem odd to give a full post to a single word in a prayer but it is the single most important word out there.


There are three important things to consider concerning  use of “Jesus” in the Hail Mary prayer.

A:  How the holy name “Jesus” affects the Hail Mary’s structure.

There are several functions that the name of Jesus give to the structure of the Hail Mary.

The use of Jesus here delineates and unites the two parts of the prayer, the scriptural sections which establish the place of Mary which we’ve already discussed and the intercessory sections which are to come where we make the primary requests in this prayer.

The use of Jesus here completes the previous phrase reminding us of Mary’s status and the primary reason of Mary favor that she was by the grace of God worthy to bear the Messiah.

It emphasises the humanity of Christ as not simply the fruit of the spirit but the fruit of a human womb, the son of a mother which will be exploring in our next two sections further.

It is the syllable emphasized within the prayer, the key moment.  Any person who has watched someone praying the Hail Mary sees that when the person says:”Jesus” is the moment emphasized.

It establishes Jesus as the object and target of worship within the prayer.  the emphasis is on Jesus which makes this prayer explicitly Christian.

And that leads of course to the second thing to consider

B:  The Power of  holy name of Jesus in the Hail Mary

One can not overemphasize the power and importance of the name Jesus

Remember it was by the name of Jesus that Peter healed the cripple at the gate

It was by the name of Jesus that the building shook & the holy spirit came upon them again

It was by the proclamation of Jesus that the Ethiopian was converted

It was in the name of Jesus Christ that the first gentiles were baptised

The Name of Jesus is the profession that Paul speaks of to the romans

It is the location of Truth as he tells the Ephesians

It is the name of Jesus that John says we should believe in. and warns us not to deny and is the test of spirits   John warns us not to deny

It is Jesus who Paul tell Timothy will judge the living & dead

It is by the name of Jesus that Paul tells the Corinthians they are justified and later tells them

no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the holy Spirit

1 cor 12:3b

And that he tells the Philippians

at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2:10-11

And those are just the biblical references we could turn to the saints and the fathers of the church and Bishops and Popes for centuries preaching the power of and in the name of Jesus but if I tried to search for them all I would die of old age before I even began.  So I will settle for this from St. John Vianney the patron of parish priests:

With the Name of Jesus we shall overthrow the demons; we shall put them to flight. With this Name, if they sometimes dare to attack us, our battles will be victories, and our victories will be crowns for Heaven, all brilliant with precious stones.

There is nothing more powerful than the name of Jesus and that leads to the thing that most people forget concerning the Hail Mary

C:  The Hail Mary as direct worship of Christ through his holy name.

The Lord’s prayer, given to us by Christ is of course the most excellent of prayers.  The prayer taught to us by Christ.  It is the primary prayer spoken by Christians from the very start, prayed at every single mass and said at the start of every single decade of the Rosary.

But if you look at the Our Father there is one thing you might notice…

The name of Jesus is not mentioned in it.

This is not a surprise, Jesus gave the disciples this prayer during his ministry at a time when the Disciples still did not understand his nature completely.  While eventually they perceived that Jesus was the son of God it’s unclear that they understood at that time Jesus taught them that prayer that Jesus was God himself.  It is no coincidence that it isn’t until after Christ’s resurrection that we hear these words from one of the disciples:

Now a week later his disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.”  Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.”  

Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!”  Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.

John 20:26-29

Now consider the Hail Mary, every single time you pray the Hail Mary you are saying and praying the holy name of Jesus.

That’s a powerful thing, but it gets better.

The Hail Mary is the primary prayer of the Holy Rosary so for every decade of the Rosary you say,  you are praying the holy name of Jesus 10 times (11 if you pray the Fatima prayer at the end of the decade which goes:  Oh my Jesus forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of Hell and lead us all into heaven especially those in most need of thy mercy.)

It also means every full set of Mysteries with the into & the Hail Holy Queen at the end you are saying and praying the Holy name of Jesus 55 times (60 with the Fatima prayer)

And of course it means if you pray the full 20 decades of the Rosary with the intro and the Fatima prayer you invoked and pray the holy name of Jesus 228 times.

There are those who critique repetitive prayer but no matter what brand of Christianity you  proclaim we can all agree that you go wrong repeating the Holy Name of Jesus.

And if you are praying the Hail Mary that most Catholic of prayers, that’s exactly what you’re doing.



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