Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.

Ave Maria

Ave Maria (Lat. Hail Mary), a common invocation to the Virgin Mary, in use at the end of the seventh century, but formally sanctioned during the twelfth. A clause was added at the end of the sixteenth century. Pope John XXII. ordered in 1326 that every Catholic should repeat it thrice at the ringing of the bells calling to prayer at morning, noon, and night. Hence the bells (still rung in Roman Catholic churches) are often called the "Ave Maria," or Angelus (q.v.), in allusion to the opening words of the prayer, taken from the address of the Angel Gabriel to the Virgin (Luke i. 28).