Little did I know when I was in high school and began praying three Hail Marys daily the significance it would have.
For starters, I had no idea that this practice which I heard of had Franciscan roots, dating back to St. Anthony of Padua, and that I would later be a member of a Franciscan congregation in which I would continue this practice.
Interestingly enough, it is noted that the Franciscans practiced this and it developed into the Angelus.
The “three Hail Marys,” encouraged by this finder of lost items and other saints (like St. Alphonsus Liguori, St. John Bosco and St. Leonard of Port Maurice, St. Mechtilde, St. Gertrude, and St. Bonaventure), has been offered to honor Our Lady’s purity and to petition her for aid in “preserv[ing] a perfect purity of mind, heart and body in the midst of the dangers of the world.”
Different variations in intentions have been offered, including the grace to avoid mortal sin and the grace to know and follow one’s vocation. (I think these are very fitting: Mary was free from sin and is a powerful intercessor. She, after all, was instrumental in the first miracle at the wedding feast in Cana.)
My practice of “the three Hail Marys,” too, has evolved over time. For several years now, I have been praying three Hail Marys for quite different intentions as well: one for each of my formation directresses.
In fact, the reason I thought of covering this devotional practices is that my novice mistress, Sr. Genevieve, for whom I have been praying one of these daily Hail Marys, died this past Sunday.
Despite the separation of death, I see no reason that I should not continue my daily prayer for her; if she doesn’t need it anymore, someone else can surely use it!