The fine arts, but above all sacred art, “of their nature are directed toward expressing in some way the infinite beauty of God in works made by human hands…” (CCC 2513).
The Annunciation by Murillo, 1655–1660, Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg
“Ave Maria,” is an 1825 song by Austrian composer Franz Schubert. It was composed as a prayer, but it’s argued Schubert’s musical piece was not written with religious use in mind; rather, that it is a derivation of Sir Walter Scott’s poem, The Lady of the Lake (1810). Though it may be hard to fathom the song’s non-religious intent, the melody, words, and composition have undoubtedly inspired its use with the Roman Catholic prayer of the same name for generations.
An important prayer for the Roman Catholic Church, Ave Maria or Hail, Mary, is the best known of the Marian prayers. The Ave Maria is also used in the Greek Orthodox and Lutheran churches, making it one of the most recognized prayers throughout the Christian world.
The biblical association of this prayer is based on Luke 1:28 which recounts the Angel Gabriel greeting the Blessed Virgin Mary on the day of the Annunciation. This is when the Angel tells Mary that she will be overcome by the Holy Spirit and bear a son. The prayer is based also on Luke 1:40-42 and recounts St. Elizabeth greeting Mary. Mary, now pregnant, has gone in haste to visit her cousin Elizabeth who’s also pregnant. When Elizabeth hears Mary’s greeting, the baby in her own womb (who will be John the Baptist) leaps for joy. Elizabeth tells Mary that she is blessed, as is the child she is carrying (Jesus Christ).
The prayer’s final text acknowledges Mary’s holiness, as Mother of God; and by this title identifies the divinity of Christ. The prayer ends with a petition for Mary’s intercession.
Hail Mary, Full of Grace, The Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now, and at the hour of our death. Amen.
Here’s a beautiful rendition of Schubert’s Ave Maria, performed by cellist Jamal Aliyev of the Young Classical Artists Trust (YCAT), accompanied by Maksim Stsura on piano.
From the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Truth Beauty, and Sacred Art (2501)
Created “in the image of God,” man also expresses the truth of his relationship with God the Creator by the beauty of his artistic works. Indeed, art is a distinctively human form of expression; beyond the search for the necessities of life which is common to all living creatures, art is a freely given superabundance of the human being’s inner riches. Arising from talent given by the Creator and from man’s own effort, art is a form of practical wisdom, uniting knowledge and skill, to give form to the truth of reality in a language accessible to sight or hearing. To the extent that it is inspired by truth and love of beings, art bears a certain likeness to God’s activity in what he has created. Like any other human activity, art is not an absolute end in itself, but is ordered to and ennobled by the ultimate end of man (CCC 2501).
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
– St. Paul, Letter to the Philippians (4:8)
For more about the biblical aspect of the Catholic Church’s view of Ave Maria you can visit What is the Annunciation and Why is It Important by Trevor Jin at https://wedaretosay.com/what-is-the-annunciation-and-why-is-it-important/
Mary Full of Grace, pray for us.
Be not afraid! And may the peace of Christ be with you and your loved ones today and always. Holy Family pray for us. Amen.