I was just thinking, that's a strange greeting. Didn't people back then usually say "hail" in the context of "Hail Caesar"? And apparently Mary thought that was a strange greeting too, even stranger than the fact that it was an Angel who greeted her thus.

So, according to the Catholic Church, does Hail (or Ave) in the sense that Gabriel uses it in Luke, actually have anything to do with addressing royalty? Has it ever been posited that the Archangel Gabriel would use that terminology only in reference to the Holy Mother of God?

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    The Greek is "Χαῖρε" (Khaire), which a standard Greek dictionary defines as "a common form of greeting". Lewis & Short describes the Latin "Ave!" as "a form of salutation". In other words, these words basically mean "Hi, how's it going?" – Matt Gutting May 4 '15 at 19:16
  • Is there reason to separate Mary's astonishment from the fact that an angel was greeting her? I always thought it was the fact that an angel was greeting her that was cause for wondering what the greeting might be- or rather, "Who is adressing me, and why?" – shiningcartoonist May 4 '15 at 19:52
  • @shiningcartoonist not really other than praying the rosary makes you really think about the words. Took me 10 years just to think of that :) – Peter Turner May 4 '15 at 20:00
  • @shiningcartoonist "Is there reason to separate Mary's astonishment from the fact that an angel was greeting her?" Yes, St. Luke specifically says she was troubled not at seeing him, (cf. Lk 1:12) or his appearance, but "ἐπὶ τῷ λόγῳ" (at [his] saying), wondering "of what sort it might be". – Sola Gratia Nov 30 '17 at 20:05

The "Hail" would be a normal greeting. I've encountered some people who believe that when Catholics say "Hail Mary.." they're worshiping her. To my understanding the original meaning doesn't necessarily connote addressing royalty, and especially not worship. Those contexts to the word might be a much more modern development.

Even in today's English we see Hail used with regular contexts instance; if someone "Hails a cab", are they worshipping the car or the driver? No; they're flagging it down.

In movies, especially in naval ( or space sci-fi contexts), characters sometimes say "We're being hailed by the USS Magellan" or some such. Again, obviously nobody is honoring or worhsipping the crew or the ship- they're greeting it.

  • But in the context of the Gospels, or even just Luke, is anyone else hailed? – Peter Turner May 4 '15 at 20:01
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    @PeterTurner As Matt Gutting pointed out, the original Greek is Χαῖρε (Chaîre). Although the term can be a greeting, it can also be the imperative “rejoice.” It goes with the name that the angel gives Mary: κεχαριτωμένη (she who has been given grace). The term is also used in Matthew 26:49 (when Judas greets Jesus with a kiss); as well as Matthew 27:29, Mark 15:18, and John 19:3 (when the soldiers mock Jesus). (Evidently, in these last few examples, unlike the first, the greeting is used with cynical or ironic intent.) – AthanasiusOfAlex May 5 '15 at 6:58
  • @AthanasiusofAlex Indeed I've seen some translations of the passage beginning "Rejoice, O highly favored daughter!" – Matt Gutting May 11 '15 at 10:45

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