How and when did Josquin’s Ave Maria … virgo serena become one of the most famous Renaissance motets? It is widely held that the motet’s modern standing is directly rooted in its Renaissance reception. And yet beyond its relatively robust circulation and placement at the beginning of Petrucci’s first printed book of motets, little evidence remains as to how Josquin’s now-famous motet was perceived during and shortly after the composer’s life. In responding to this paucity of information, Part I of this article traces a reception history for Ave Maria that considers how the motet was reworked in parody masses and motets, analysing the specific ways in which later composers both engaged with and departed from Josquin’s techniques. Part II turns to the work’s modern reception, mining the scholarly literature, survey texts and recordings for clues as to how the motet’s significance has shifted throughout the twentieth century. The article concludes by proposing that this site-specific approach may be useful in comprehending the extensive stylistic changes that occurred between c. 1480 and the mid-sixteenth century.