I have no idea what a novena is

I finished RCIA last Easter and although I have been a Catholic all of my life I was never practising.

One thing about our faith is that there is a lot to learn. One of them being novenas. I have no clue what a novena is, when it is, or what it is used for.

I have tried googling but honestly it didn’t help. Would somebody mind helping me with this?

Thank you:)

I mean… my explanation is just my understanding, but a novena is basically a standing date you make with a chosen saint. So you meet them once a day for a certain amount of days to check in and say; hey! WASSUP?

… yeah, um, it’s basically just a commitment to pray to a certain saint for a certain purpose and for a set amount of time. Say you need help being more humble, forgiving or you are asking a saint to pray for someone else. The Lord says pray without ceasing so you ask this saint to join you in that unceasing prayer.

Pretty primitive understanding eh?

I look forward to seeing how more educated members of the board answer. :slight_smile:

Novena is a catch-all phrase for prayer that is someway related to the number 9.

It can be nine days of saying the same prayers.

It can be nine days of saying different prayers for the same intention.

It can be nine Rosaries.

It can be 54 Rosaries (9 X 6).

It can be nine Masses offered for the soul of a loved one.

You get the idea. :slight_smile:

I do, thank you:o

Can it be any saint? Any prayers? Is there a structure to follow or is it up to us?

Thank you

The word “novena” came from the Latin word “novem,” which means nine. When you say a prayer to a certain saint for nine consecutive days, then you are said to make a novena. The Church does not require catholics to pray in this manner, but many catholics who have a devotion to this or that saint love to pray this way. Sometimes they are used to ask a saint to obtain a favor from God. At other times it is used to say thanksgiving, or simply to honor God in His saints. By the way, novenas are not prayers restricted to Mary and the saints. For example, you can also make a novena in honor of the Child Jesus.

I hope that helps.

Catholics are free to make their own private prayers. So you can make your own private novena prayers if you want. However, if you want to say a novena in public, such as a community prayer, then you should choose a novena prayer approved by the Church.

Personally, although I also sometimes make up my own words when I pray alone, I also frequently use carefully crafted prayers made by others and approved by the Church. For example, the Prayer of St. Francis is so beautiful I don’t mind making his words my own.

There are several books and countless booklets which have novenas in them. Frequently, you start the prayer daily eight days before the feast of the saint or the solemnity in question, concluding on the feast day or solemnity.

That’s just one style.

Here is a pretty extensive list of novenas. I’m sure you can find others.


The significance of the number 9 comes from the number of days the deciples remained praying in the upper room: Ascention Thursday - Pentecost Sunday.

That’s the original novena.

That was my next question…why 9. How cool!! Ooh I have to find one I want to do!


You’d make a good Jesuit!

A man walked up to a Franciscan and a Jesuit and asked, “How many novenas must you say to get a Mercedes Benz?”
The Franciscan asked, “What’s a Mercedes Benz?” The Jesuit asked, “What’s a novena?”



You know what’s sad… I don’t even get this… yet! I’m learning!:blush:

I just wanted to update to say I bought a little book of novenas :smiley: SUPER excited!

Modern Catholic Dictionary:

NOVENA. Nine days of public or private prayer for some special occasion or intention. Its origin goes back to the nine days that the Disciples and Mary spent together in prayer between Ascension and Pentecost Sunday. Over the centuries many novenas have been highly indulgenced by the Church. In modern times the one before Pentecost was prescribed for parochial churches, (Etym. Latin novem, nine.)

And some parishes have ‘Perpetual Novenas’ - for example. to Our Lady of Perpetual Help. You can go to these without any thought of completing nine sessions, just go every week or whatever you can mange. Or deliberately commit yourself to nine attendances I suppose. Whenever I’ve been to one, there’s been no mention of nine - it isn’t announced that ‘This is week Four’, for instance.

Can novenas be done alone, at home, or must they be done in Church. The reason I’m asking is because I remember my mom “making a novena” at our parish when I was a kid.

You may pray it alone, and at home. But, of course, it is better to pray it with others, for as our Lord said, “Where there are two or three gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20).

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