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For the town in Singapore, see Novena, Singapore. For the open-source computer, see Novena (computing platform).
A group of pious women gathered for a novena to Our Lady of Mount Carmel, most likely a mourning event. circa 1940.
A novena booklet for Our Lady of Penafrancia, from Binondo, Imprimatur dated 1867.

A novena (from Latin: Novem, meaning Nine) is an act of pious Roman Catholic devotion[1] often consisting of private or public prayers repeated for nine successive days in belief of obtaining special intercessory graces.[2]

The recitation of novena prayers are primarily found in the Roman Catholic Church,[1] while some members of the Anglican Church, Eastern Orthodox Church and Lutheran Church also share in an effort for church renewal.[citation needed]

The prayers are often derived from devotional prayer books, or consist of the recitation of the rosary (a "rosary novena"), or of short prayers through the day. Novena prayers are customarily printed in small booklets, and the novena is often dedicated to a specific angel, saint, a specific Marian title of the Blessed Virgin Mary, or it invokes one of the personages of the Holy Trinity.

Within the Roman Catholic discipline, novena prayers for public use must have an Imprimatur, Nihil Obstat, and Imprimi potest. These ecclesiastical sanctions are usually granted by a bishop or any ranking prelate for publication and approval.


A group of devotees holding a candle novena on the way to church for the Feast of Exaltation of the Holy Cross, Orizaba, Mexico.

The practice of the novena may have been influenced from the Medieval practice of holding daily Mass for nine consecutive days for recently departed members of the upper classes and clergy. Probable theories of the medieval practice may trace its origins to an early Greek and Roman custom performed by families, consisting of nine days of mourning after the death of a loved one, followed by a feast, which originally prompted Catholic writers such as Saint Augustine of Hippo, Pseudo-Alcuin and John Beleth to warn Christians not to emulate the custom.[3]

Over time, members of Roman Catholic faith began to place less emphasis on the number nine's connection to the pagan custom, and more on its association with the nine months Jesus spent in the womb, the giving up of His spirit at the ninth hour, and the event which occurred in the Upper Room with Twelve Apostles and the Blessed Virgin Mary when they prayed for nine days until the Holy Spirit descended on the Feast of the Pentecost.

In the New Testament, this biblical event is often quoted from Acts of the Apostles, 1:12 – 2:5. The Church Fathers also assigned special meaning to the number nine, seeing it as symbolic of imperfect man turning to God in prayer (due to its proximity with the number ten, symbolic of perfection and God).[3] These developments first affected Christian mortuary celebrations, and then carried over to prayer. The practice of saying novenas may be derived from Holy Scripture or simply the development of both Roman practice integrated into biblical events found in scripture.[citation needed]


A group of women praying to Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn in Vilnius, Lithuania for petitions. The leader is on the far left.

In the Roman Catholic Church, there are four recognized categories of novenas which belong to more than one of these categories:[3]

  1. Mourning, or in anticipation of a Burial
  2. In anticipation of a Church Feast or ending in Vespers (often requires Church attendance)
  3. Individual or Group Petition (Expiatory)
  4. Indulgence for the remission of Sins (often requires Sacrament of Confession or Church attendance)

By standard liturgical norms, novenas are performed in church, at home, or anywhere where solemn prayers are appropriate, though some indulgenced novenas require church attendance. Sometimes, a special candle or incense is lit at the beginning of the novena which burns during the nine days of prayer. The first chapter of the General Principles of Sacrosanctum Concilium, number #13 is often cited as a guideline regarding the implementations of public novenas.[4][5]

Other denominations[edit]

Novena prayers are also practised by Lutheran, Orthodox and Anglican Christians, who hold close or similar beliefs regarding its pious practice.[citation needed] In addition, novenas have also been used in an ecumenical Christian context, such as those promulgated by Premier Christian Radio, in order to pray for Church renewal.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Novena: nine days of prayer with Premier". Premier Christian Radio. Retrieved 10 April 2015. Novena is an ancient tradition of prayer for nine days between Ascension Day and Pentecost Sunday. Premier is resourcing a Novena to invite the Holy Spirit to bring fresh renewal to the Church and calls on churches across the UK to take part in an ecumenical act of unity and prayer. 
  2. ^ "Novenas" at EWTN
  3. ^ a b c Hilgers, Joseph. "Novena." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 11. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. 20 Dec. 2012
  4. ^ SacroSanctum Concillium. Chapter 1: Number: XIII. http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_const_19631204_sacrosanctum-concilium_en.html
  5. ^ Novena to Our Mother of Perpetual Help - Baclaran copy. with Imprimatur.


  • Right Reverend Monsignor Joseph F. Stedman, The New Revised 'Triple' Novena Manual, Confraternity of the Precious Blood, 1975.
  • Barbara Calamari & Sandra DiPasqua, Novena, Penguin Studio, 1999. ISBN 0-670-88444-8.

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Novena — Please support Wikipedia.
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350134 news items


Sat, 30 Jan 2016 07:02:29 -0800

The latest hardware project from [Bunnie] is the Novena, a truly open source laptop where nearly every part has non-NDA'd datasheets. This is the ideal laptop for hardware hacking – it has an FPGA right on the motherboard, a ton of pin headers, and a ...
National Catholic Reporter
Fri, 15 Jan 2016 09:53:27 -0800

As the Jan. 22 anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision approached, the chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities urged everyone concerned about "the tragedy of abortion" to recommit themselves to a "vision of life and love, a ...
Catholic Courier
Thu, 14 Jan 2016 00:03:45 -0800

HAMLIN -- Migrant workers from Mexico gather annually in each other's homes in the Brockport area to continue a tradition from their homeland of praying a novena leading up to the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe. This year, they shared that ...
Thu, 21 Jan 2016 03:57:03 -0800

An illustration revealing the impressive design of the sanctuary of the Church of Saint Alphonsus, or more popularly known as the Novena Church, after its facelift has drawn oohs and aahs from church-goers and netizens after it was posted on Facebook ...

The Straits Times

The Straits Times
Sun, 24 Jan 2016 13:01:20 -0800

Artisan Ernesto Raducci, 40, at work in Singapore on Friday, carefully beautifying the stained glass that will be installed in the new extension. When Novena Church opens its doors early next year, worshippers can look forward to a new heritage centre ...
Galway Advertiser
Wed, 20 Jan 2016 16:00:00 -0800

Ireland is a nation of storytellers and the country loves nothing more than a good tale, so this year the Novena is centred around stories, focusing on nine specific parables told by Jesus in the Bible, which are simply stories with a point. The 2016 ...

Galway Independent

Galway Independent
Wed, 20 Jan 2016 01:22:30 -0800

The Galway Solemn Novena, which runs from Monday 15 until Tuesday 23 February, is asking 'what's the point?' through its theme 'Stories of God, Stories of You' for this year's Novena. This year the Novena is centred around stories, focusing on nine ...

Uno Santa Fe

Uno Santa Fe
Mon, 08 Feb 2016 11:30:00 -0800

Con la participación de 24 comparsas, murgas y batucadas se llevó a cabo este fin de semana la novena edición de Carnavales entre Todos. Fueron tres noches de festejo, acompañadas por más de 12 mil personas que asistieron en familia a la Costanera ...

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