Monday, May 12, 2008

Where did the "Hail, Holy Queen" come from?

The "Hail Holy Queen" was a war chant of the Crusaders, later completed by Saint Bernard

Americans have been saying the "Hail, Holy Queen" for centuries.  But how many know its origin?

It was written by the Bishop of Puy, France.  His name was Adhemar of Monteuil.  He was a member of the Council of Clermont, the city from which the first Crusade was launched.

Adhemar joined the Crusade and was its Apostolic Legate.  He composed the "Hail, Holy Queen" in Latin to be used as a war chant by the Crusaders.

Originally, the prayer did not include the triple invocation of Our Lady: "O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary." These were later added by Saint Bernard. And here is when he added them.

On the vespers of Christmas, 1146, St. Bernard was sent as Papal legate to Germany.  After a long trip during which many miracles took place, he finally arrived at the city of Spire.  The local bishop, clergy and people received him with great pomp, and escorted him to where the Emperor and princes were waiting to receive him with the respect and honor befitting a Papal Legate.

AS the procession crossed the door of the Cathedral, the choir started the "Hail Holy Queen," the abbot's favorite prayer. Saint Bernard was deeply moved as the Emperor and people lead him into the Cathedral.


As the choir finished the song, the saint walked towards the main altar, with a beautiful statue of Our Lady on it. On his way up the aisle, he prostrated on the ground three times, each time saying one of these invocations to Our Lady, "O clement! O Loving! O Sweet Virgin Mary!"
(Source: “Mary taught to our youth”, Francisco Alves bookstore, Rio, 1915.  Translated freely by me.)


  1. Until today, in the cathedral of Speyer, Rheinland Palatinate, you could see on the floor, remembering this episode, four marks with the words: "O Clemens!, o Pia!, o Dulcis!, Virgo Maria!"
    Speyer cathedral is the largest cathedral in late romanesque stile in Europa.

  2. Our loving Mother watches over us everywhere. What a beautiful cathedral for Her to dwell in.