The Pater Noster (or "Our Father") prayer has long been considered the primary Christian prayer, the answer given by Jesus to the question of how best to pray. In the Middle Ages, this prayer was said almost exclusively in Latin, memorized by everyone across all levels of society. The Pater Noster, along with the Creed (Credo) and the Hail Mary - called the Angelic Salutation or the Ave, and only half as long as it is now! -- this trio of basics were the prayers every Medieval parish priest was obligated to teach to his flock. Although they form the bare minimum of spiritual knowledge, their richness was considered deep and fruitful. The Pater Noster and the Ave came to be used on a daily basis for prayer, and the spiritual practice of reciting many of them as a meditation, often aided by a set of beads, grew in popularity to include all of Medieval Europe. Thus the Pater Noster prayer gave its name to the very sets of beads on which the prayer was so frequently prayed, being themselves called Paternosters.


Here are the Ave and the Paternoster as they were learned in Medieval Europe: 


The Pater Noster (the Our Father)


Pater noster,

qui es in caelis,

sanctificetur nomen tuum.

Adveniat regnum tuum.

Fiat voluntas tua,

sicut in caelo et in terra.

Panem nostrum quotidianum da nobis hodie,

et dimitte nobis debita nostra sicut

et nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris.

Et ne nos inducas in tentationem,

sed libera nos a malo.



The Angelic Salutation (the early Ave Maria)


AVE MARIA, gratia plena,

Dominus tecum.

Benedicta tu in mulieribus,

et benedictus fructus ventris tui.