AskDefine | Define Angelus

Dictionary Definition



1 the sound of a bell rung in Roman Catholic churches to announce the time when the Angelus should be recited [syn: angelus bell]
2 a prayer said 3 times a day by Roman Catholics in memory of the Annunciation

User Contributed Dictionary


Proper noun

  1. A male given name.

Extensive Definition

The Angelus (lat. Angel) is a Christian devotion in memory of the Incarnation. Its name is derived from the opening words, Angelus Domini nuntiavit Mariæ. It consists of three Biblical verses describing the mystery, recited as versicle and response, alternating with the salutation "Hail Mary!" and traditionally is recited in Catholic churches, convents and monasteries three times daily, 6:00 a.m., 12:00 noon and 6:00 p.m, accompanied by the ringing of the Angelus bell. Some High Church Anglican and Lutheran churches also use the devotion.


The Catholic Encyclopedia states, that "The history of the Angelus is by no means easy to trace with confidence, and it is well to distinguish in this matter between what is certain and what is in some measure conjectural." This is an old devotion which was already well established 700 years ago. The Angelus originated with the eleventh-century monastic custom of reciting three Hail Marys during the evening bell. The first written documentation stems from an Italian Franciscan monk Sinigardi di Arezzo (died 1282) Franciscan monasteries document the use in Italy in the years 1263 and 1295. The Angelus is included in a Venecian Catechism from 1560. The older usages seem to have commemorared the resurrection of Christ in the morning, his suffering at noon and the annunciation in the evening. In 1269 St Bonaventure urged the faithful to adopt the custom of the Franciscans of saying three Hail Marys as the evening bell was rung.
The Angelus is not identical with the "Turkish bell" ordered by Pope Calixtus III (1455-1458) in 1456, who asked for a long midday bell ringing and prayer for protection against the Turkish invasions of his time. In his 1956 Apostolic Letter Dum Maerenti Animo about the persecution of the Church in Eastern Europe and China, Pope Pius XII recalls the 500th anniversary of the "Turkish bell", a prayer crusade ordered by his predecessors against the dangers from the East. He again asks the faithful throughout the world, to pray for the persecuted Church in the East during the mid-day Angelus
The custom of reciting it in the morning apparently grew from the monastic custom of saying three Hail Marys while a bell rang at Prime. The noon time custom apparently arose from the noon time commemoration of the Passion on Fridays. The institution of the Angelus is by some ascribed to Pope Urban II, by some to Pope John XXII for the year 1317 . The triple recitation is ascribed to Louis XI of France, who in 1472 ordered it to be said three times daily. The form of the prayer was standardized by the seventeenth century..
The manner of ringing the Angelus—the triple stroke repeated three times, with a pause between each set of three (a total of nine strokes), sometimes followed by a longer peal as at curfew—seems to have been the norm from the very beginning. The fifteenth-century constitutions of Syon monastery dictate that the lay brother "shall toll the Ave bell nine strokes at three times, keeping the space of one Pater and Ave between each three tollings".
In his Apostolic Letter Marialis Cultus, in 1974 Pope Paul VI encouraged the praying of the Angelus and confirmed its importance.

Modern usage

In most Franciscan and contemplative monasteries, the Angelus continues to be prayed three times a day. In American Trappist monasteries and convents, the Angelus is often combined with midday prayers or Vespers and prayed together in the Church. In Italy since Pope John XXIII, every Sunday at noon the Pope has an address broadcast by public television (Rai Uno). At the end of the address the Pope recites the Angelus. In the Republic of Ireland, the Angelus is broadcast every night at 6.00 p.m. on the TV channel RTE One, before the Six-One News, and on the radio station Radio 1, at noon and 6.00 p.m. There has been very occasional debate about whether to end the Angelus broadcasts as the station is run by an authority appointed by the Irish Government and this may constitute state support of one faith over others. Critics of this view reply that it is the ringing of a bell, not the broadcast of a prayer, and in any case nobody is compelled to take part. In the city of Monterrey, Mexico, the Angelus is broadcast daily on radio at 6.00 a.m., noon, and 6.00 p.m. In the Philippines, radio stations run by the Catholic Church and some religious orders broadcast the Angelus at 6.00 a.m., noon, and at 6.00 p.m.In malls and some stores people that are having their grocery and shopping are requested to pose for a while to recite the angelus together with the malls pager during noon and at 6:00 p.m. In the United States and Canada, some lay-run Catholic radio stations broadcast the Angelus daily. In Germany particular dioceses and their radio stations ring the Angelus, additionally each church throughout the republic rings the Angelus bell thrice daily; including some Protestant churches .

Angelus bell

The Angelus, in all its stages of development, was closely associated with the ringing of a bell. The bell is still rung in some English country churches and has often been mistaken for, and alleged to be a remnant of, the curfew bell. The Angelus is replaced by Regina Coeli during Eastertide, and is not used between the Liturgy of Maundy Thursday and the Easter Vigil.
Where the town bell and the bells of the principal church or monastery were distinct, the curfew was generally rung upon the town bell. Where the church bell served for both purposes, the Ave and the curfew were probably rung upon the same bell at different hours.
The ringing of the Angelus in the fourteenth and even in the thirteenth century must have been very general. The number of bells belonging to these two centuries which still survive is relatively small, but a considerable proportion bear inscriptions which suggest that they were originally intended to serve as Ave bells. Many bear the words Ave Maria; or, as in the case of a bell at Helfta, near Eisleben, in Germany, dated 1234, the whole sentence: Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum. Bells with this Ave Maria inscription are also numerous in England, but in England the Angelus bells seem in a very large number of instances to have been dedicated to St Gabriel, the angel mentioned in the prayer (Luke 1:26-27). In the Diocese of Lincoln alone we find nineteen of the surviving medieval bells bearing the name of Gabriel, while only six bear the name of Michael, a much more popular patron in other respects. In France, the Ave Maria seems to have been the ordinary label for Angelus bells; but in Germany we find as the most common inscription of all, even in the case of many bells of the thirteenth century, the words O Rex Gloriæ Veni Cum Pace ("O King of Glory, Come with Peace"). In Germany, the Netherlands, and in some parts of France the Angelus bell was regularly known as the "Peace bell", and pro pace schlagen (to toll for peace) was a phrase popularly used for ringing the Angelus. In the Philippines, the ringing of church bells is still done for the Angelus every 6 o' clock in the afternoon. During the past, upon hearing of the bell, Filipino families knelt in their respecting homes before their altars and prayed the Angelus or as the Spaniards called it the "Orasyon" together. In traditional Spanish-Filipino families, the Angelus is said in Spanish.
The Irish national broadcaster Radio Telefís Éireann broadcasts the angelus bells at 12pm and 6pm every day on the national radio station RTÉ Radio 1 and at 6pm on the national television station RTÉ One. This consists of a bell ringing for the duration of one minute and is accompanied by images of people pausing in contemplation (filmed in North Kildare) for the television version. The Foggy Dew, an Irish rebel ballad commemorating the Easter Rising, contains the line "the Angelus bell o'er the Liffey swell rang out through the foggy dew".
With regard to the manner of ringing the Angelus it seems sufficient to note that the triple stroke repeated three times with a pause between seems to have been adopted from the very beginning.

Latin text

V/. Angelus Domini nuntiavit Mariæ, R/. Et concepit de Spiritu Sancto.
Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum. Benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Iesus.Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc et in hora mortis nostræ. Amen.
V/. "Ecce Ancilla Domini." R/. "Fiat mihi secundum Verbum tuum."
Ave Maria, gratia plena...
V/. Et Verbum caro factum est. R/. Et habitavit in nobis.
Ave Maria, gratia plena...
V/. Ora pro nobis, Sancta Dei Genetrix. R/. Ut digni efficiamur promissionibus Christi.
Oremus: Gratiam tuam quæsumus, Domine, mentibus nostris infunde; ut qui, angelo nuntiante, Christi Filii tui Incarnationem cognovimus, per passionem eius et crucem, ad resurrectionis gloriam perducamur. Per eumdem Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.

English text

V/. The Angel of the Lord brought tidings unto Mary, R/. And she conceived by the Holy Ghost.
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. (Lk 1:28) Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. (Lk 1:42). Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
V/. "Behold the handmaid of the Lord." R/. "Be it unto me according to thy Word."
Hail Mary, full of grace...
V/. And the Word was made flesh, R/. And dwelt among us.
Hail Mary, full of grace...
V/. Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God. R/. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let us pray: We beseech thee, O Lord, pour thy grace into our hearts, that as we have known the Incarnation of thy Son Jesus Christ by the message of an angel, so by His Cross and Passion we may be brought unto the glory of His Resurrection; through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

Another English version

The Angelus
V. The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary.
R. And she conceived of the Holy Spirit.
Hail Mary, etc.
V. Behold the handmaid of the Lord.
R. Be it done unto me according to thy word.
Hail Mary, etc.
V. And the Word was made Flesh.
R. And dwelt among us.
Hail Mary, etc.
V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts, that we to whom the Incarnation of Christ Thy Son was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His Resurrection. Through the same Christ Our Lord. Amen.
Lord, fill our hearts with Your love, and as You revealed to us by an angel, the coming of Your Son as man. So lead us through His suffering and death to the glory of His resurrection, for He lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(This version is slightly different. Another, shorter, version is that only the three verses and responses are recited, followed by only one Hail Mary, etc).

Melanesian text

The form of the Angelus in the Anglican Church of Melanesia English Prayer Book
The Angelus
The Angel of the Lord brought news to Mary, And she conceived by the Holy Spirit.
Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your body, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.
Behold the servant of the Lord; Let it be to me according to your word.
Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your body, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.
And the Word was made flesh, And lived among us.
Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your body, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.
Pray for us, O holy Mother of God, That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let us pray.
We pray you, Lord, pour your grace into our hearts that as we have known through the message of an angel, that your Son, Jesus Christ, became human, so by His cross and suffering we may be brought to the glory of His rising again, through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen. May God’s help be with us always, and may the souls of those who died in faith, through the mercy of God rest in peace. Amen.
The Angelus is also the name of a United States-based magazine, published by the Society of St. Pius X. The SSPX also owns Angelus Press, based in Kansas City, Missouri.


  • H Schauerle, Angelus Domini, in Lexikon der Marienkunde, Regensburg, 1967 pp 217-221



Angelus in Czech: Anděl Páně
Angelus in German: Der Engel des Herrn
Angelus in Spanish: Angelus
Angelus in Esperanto: Anĝeluso
Angelus in French: Angélus
Angelus in Interlingua (International Auxiliary Language Association): Angelus
Angelus in Italian: Angelus
Angelus in Latin: Angelus Domini
Angelus in Hungarian: Úrangyala
Angelus in Dutch: Angelus (gebed)
Angelus in Norwegian: Angelus
Angelus in Polish: Anioł Pański
Angelus in Portuguese: Angelus
Angelus in Russian: Ангел Господень
Angelus in Slovak: Anjel Pána
Angelus in Finnish: Angelus
Angelus in Swedish: Angelusringning

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Angelus bell, Ave, Ave Maria, Hail Mary, Kyrie Eleison, Paternoster, aid prayer, alarm, alarum, appeal, battle cry, beadroll, beads, beseechment, bidding prayer, birdcall, breviary, bugle call, call, chaplet, collect, communion, contemplation, devotions, entreaty, grace, impetration, imploration, intercession, invocation, last post, litany, meditation, moose call, obsecration, obtestation, orison, petition, prayer, prayer wheel, rallying cry, rebel yell, reveille, rogation, rosary, silent prayer, suit, summons, supplication, taps, thanks, thanksgiving, trumpet call, war cry, whistle
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