Salve Regina (prayer)

« Hail holy queen »: these are the first Latin words of one of the last prayers that the community of Dominican brothers or sisters sings at nightfall, at the end of the office of Compline. This prayer was composed in the eleventh century. It is attributed to Adhemar, bishop of Puy-en-Velay (France). Saint Bernard completed the text of the primitive antiphon by adding the three final exclamations: « o clement, o pious, o sweet Virgin Mary! » Its diffusion coincided with the spread of Cistercians abbeys at the end of the twelfth century. The « Salve Regina » was sung in the Dominican communities in the early years of the Order. It is a prayer that asks, before the great silence of the night, the protection of the Mother of God, the true Queen of Heaven. The faithful turned to her so that she would protect every man in this « valley of tears » and would one day show him Jesus. Such is the sweetness of Mary.