This devotion goes back to some revelations with which benedictine nun St. Mechtilde was favoured. Mechtilde was the daughter of the Count of Hackeborn, Germany. When she was seven, she was taken to the cloister of Ruderdorf to visit an elder sister of hers, Gertrude who was a Benedictine nun.
At the end of the visit, the little girl would not leave her sister. She eventually joined the nuns and together with her elder sister went to found a new Cloister at Helfta. Shortly after, Mechtilde, although still very young, was made novice and choir mistress.
Among her novices she had Gertrude who became St. Gertrude, known as the Great. It was this pupil who secretly, helped by another nun, collected Mechtilde’s memoirs which came down to us. Mechtilde died in 1299.
From the start Mechtilde was a shining example of humility, piety religious observance and of great patience. She bore with great patience constant physical pain which tormented her throughout life. She often meditated on the mystery of death and every time she implored Our Lady to be with her always, especially at that moment. She was also favoured with visions and colloquies with Our Lord and Our Lady.
One day Our Lady appeared to her and assured her: “Dear daughter, I will most certainly grant you the grace that you insistently ask of me, but I request you to say, every day, Three Hail Marys in honour of the power, wisdom and love with which the Holy Trinity deigned to fill my heart. If you do that I promise you final perseverance. Mechtilde was made to feel that his promise was not for her alone but for all who would undertake to practice this devotion.
The devotion soon spread all over among the faithful. It was approved by Pope Benedict XV on July 20, 1921. The papal document says “Nothing gives us more joy than helping the Christian people to develop their devotion towards the Virgin Mary, mediatrix of all divine graces …. We raise and constitute into an Arch Confraternity or Primary Society, with all the usual privileges, the Association of The Three Hail Marys, canonically already existing at Blois (on the Loire, in France) in the chapel dedicated to the Most Blessed Immaculate Virgin Mary.
In order to respond full to the request of Our Lady and merit the grace of a happy death, one must have the true knowledge of what this devotion implies. It is not enough to recite the Three Hail Marys in a general way, but it is necessary to recite the Three Hail Marys with the precise aim pointed out by Our Lady: “To honour the Holy Trinity for the three privileges granted to the Mother of God: power, wisdom and love.
Again the full value of this devotion is not measured only by this primary purpose, but by the power it has to obtain extraordinary spiritual and material graces. One could hardly dream of giving an adequate number of all the graces granted throughout the centuries. Extraordinary cures from infirmities; study courses completed with success, when the odds were so many; miraculous protection in dangers of all kind; severe temptations and bad habits overcome; conversions to a better life etc….
No one could deny so many real graces obtained by so many. As a sample of the spiritual power of this devotion I will quote here one example written in first person by whoever received the grace. “I was slave of a bad habit against purity. For three long years I struggled in vain. All the means I could think of, or which were suggested to me proved useless. I felt guilty of sins and even sacrileges, knew no peace of mind and was beginning to despair. Then one day I was told of this devotion and began to practice it. Almost at once I was strong enough not to fall into sin. There were occasions when I almost wanted to go back to my evil ways again, but something stronger than my bad will was there to prevent me. Thank you Mother for helping me out of a situations that was seriously endangering both my material and spiritual life.”
Let this example inspire us to begin practicing this devotion, if we have not done so yet or to make use of it more consciously and with greater devotion if we are practicing it already. While doing so let us give first place to our spiritual needs, like the strength to avoid sin and the desire to become better spiritually day by day.
The center of this devotion is at Blois in the beautiful shrine dedicated to Notre Dame de la Trinite. Our Lady of the Holy Trinity, built in 1937. There also is the centre of the Arch Confraternity of the Three Hail Marys.
A personal testimony
I prayed this devotion repeatedly during a crisis and four hours later the problem was solved perfectly. Below is another testimony regarding the Three Hail Marys.
A severe cough (The devotion of the Three Hail Marys)
During a long bus trip, Clare developed a very severe cough that was loud and prolonged. The lady who was sitting behind her took out a holy card of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal and silently continuously prayed a devotion that is known as The Three Hail Marys, to ask for a healing of the cough. Later on another passenger came up to the lady and touched her with a relic of Saint Philomena. The next morning Clare was completely free of the cough.
The Three Hail Marys Devotion consists of saying three Hail Marys followed by the invocation “O Mary my mother keep me from mortal sin”. This devotion is in honour the power, wisdom and love with which the Blessed Trinity has infused into the heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Many favours have been granted throughout the centuries to those who practice this devotion.
This story is published in my book: Help from heaven (Answers to prayer) which can be read free on-line here.