One of the greatest means of salvation and one of the surest signs of predestination, is unquestionably, the devotion to the Most Blessed Virgin. All the holy doctors of the Church are unanimous in saying with St. Alphonsus of Liguori: “A devout servant of Mary shall never perish.” The chief thing is to persevere faithfully until death in this devotion.
Numerous examples show how agreeable the three Hail Marys Devotion is to the Divine Mother and what special graces it draws, during life and at the hour of death, on those who never omit it for a single day.
Many great saints have practiced and recommended the devotion of the “Three Hail Mary”. Here are the names of but a few of them: St. Leonard of Port Maurice, St. Bruno, St. Bonaventure, St. John Berchmans, St. John Baptist Mary Vianney (Cure of Ars), St. Anthony of Lisbon and of Padua, St. Stanislaus Kostka, St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort, St. John Joseph of the Cross, St. John Baptist de Rossi, St. Gerard Majella, St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows, Blessed Marcellinus Champagnat, and, above all, the great Marian doctor St. Alphonsus Liguori who, in his writings recommended this devotion about twenty times.
This practice was revealed to St. Melchtilde while she was beseeching Our Blessed Mother to assist her in her hour of death. Our Lady appeared to her and said: “I will, certainly. But I also want you to say three special Hail Marys to me every day.
“The first Hail Mary will be in honor of God the Father, Whose omnipotence raised my soul so high above every other creature that after God I have the greatest power in heaven and on earth. In the hour of your death I will use that power of God the Father to keep any hostile power far from you.”
“The second Hail Mary will be said in honor of the Son of God Who communicated His inscrutable wisdom to me. In the hour of your death I will fill your soul with the light of that wisdom so that all the darkness of ignorance and error will be dispelled.”
“The third Hail Mary will be in honor of God the Holy Ghost Who filled my soul with the sweetness of His love and tenderness and mercy. In your last hour I will then change the bitterness of death into divine sweetness and delight.”
Our Blessed Mother also revealed to St. Gertrude the Great: “To any soul who faithfully prays the Three Hail Marys, I will appear at the hour of death in a splendor so extraordinary that it will fill the soul with heavenly consolation.”
St. Leonard of Port Maurice, the celebrated missionary, had the Three Hail Marys recited morning and evening in honor of Mary Immaculate, to obtain the grace of avoiding all mortal sins during the day or night; moreover he promised in a special manner eternal salvation to all those who proved constantly faithful to this practice. He gave this devotion of Three Hail Marys as a penance in the confessional, especially for those who were struggling with sins of impurity.
Astonishing conversions, increase in virtues, cure of the sick, temptations conquered, business difficulties solved, holy death.and salvation.”
– the promise made by the Blessed Virgin to St. Mechtilde.
The “Three Hail Marys”, are in the words of St Alphonsus Maria Liquori: “the best safeguard for chastity”
-This statement was recorded and attributed to St. Alphonsus Maria Liguori by St. Pius X; “that it is true, has been confirmed by our experiences as well as those of many missionaries” (according to Frassinetti). Even the number of graces and favors obtained through the practice of this devotion show us just how pleasing it is to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Here is the personal testimony of a sinner who used the devotion with good results: “For the last three years, I have been the slave of a bad habit against the virtue of purity. How could I get rid of this terrible passion? I tried every means available, but all proved useless. I used to give in to very serious sins and even to sacrileges. This was most disheartening. “Then, one day, someone recommended to me the devotion of the “Three Hail Marys”. And now, it is not yet quite one month since I started to pray the “Three Hail Marys” every morning and every night without fail. I cannot explain what has happened within me, but I do know and can assure you that, since the very first moment, it has produced wonderful results within me: I have not succumbed to the impure temptations since then. When I have been weak and just about ready to succumb, something or another has happened which has stopped me from giving in; and, indeed, I do know that it was something stronger than my desire of sinning.”
According to St. Gertrude (1256–1301), the Blessed Virgin Mary promised the following: “To any soul who faithfully prays the Three Hail Marys I will appear at the hour of death in a splendor of beauty so extraordinary that it will fill the soul with Heavenly consolation.”
Later on, St. Leonard of Port Maurice, “had the three Ave Marias recited morning and evening in honor of Mary Immaculate, to obtain the grace of avoiding all mortal sins during the day or and night; moreover, he promised in a special manner eternal salvation to all those who proved constantly faithful to this practice.”
St. Alphonsus Liguori (1696–1787) adopted this pious practice and highly recommended it. He told parents to train their children to acquire the habit of saying three Hail Marys in the morning and evening. After each Hail Mary, he advice that the following prayer be said: “By thy Immaculate Conception, O Mary, make my body pure and my soul holy.”
According to the St. Martha Catholic Church of the Pallottine Fathers, after Night Prayers, “Many Saints have had the practice of adding three “Hail Mary’s” here in honor of Mary’s purity for the grace of a chaste and holy life.” Thus, it has been recommended as a daily practice for people who have received confirmation that they pray the Three Hail Marys for “purity of mind, heart and body” after examination of conscience.
Practice: Recite morning and evening, three Hail Marys in honor of the three great privileges bestowed upon Our Blessed Mother by the most Blessed Trinity with this invocation at the end: for the morning: “O my Mother preserve me from mortal sin during this day.” For the evening: “O my Mother preserve me from mortal sin during this night.”
(Pope St. Pius X gave his Apostolic Blessing to this practice and the devotion was raised to an Archconfraternity by Pope Benedict XV.)