Q: Should we use "highly favored one" instead of "full of grace" in the Hail Mary?

A: Your question arises from the issue of translating biblical languages from ancient to modern languages. "Full of grace" closely translates gratia plena from Jerome's Latin Vulgate Bible. However, the Gospels were first written in Greek, and the original term seems to have been kecharitomene, a verbal participle from the word 'charis' meaning 'gift', 'favor' or 'grace.' The Greek expression is hard to render in English, something like 'enduringly gifted' [The English word 'charisma' comes from the same root]. There is a similar issue in the opening phrase of the Hail Mary [Ave Maria in the Latin Vulgate - Kaire, for 'Rejoice', in the Greek]. We've posted material on this second issue under "Your Questions."

We invite you to ponder this Scripture passage of the angel's message to Mary, and to tell us what you think about the use of either word. You are welcome to use our email address below.


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