Those novenas that expect you to copy and spread the


I’m guessing numerous others of you have encountered these, the novenas that supposedly are guaranteed to work if you make like 81 copies and distribute them.

Does anyone know what the history of these are?

They seem like chain letters to me. It makes me uncomfortable when people leave these at church, then others might take them home and presume that it’s legitimate because they were found in church. Why don’t priests crack down on these more?


We have been getting a lot of these in the prayer intentions forum- some you can tell are just spam, but there are always some that have a true need behind them.

The only prayer that I am aware of that is truly aided by publishing it and has a history of it is the novena to St. Jude. When I was in my teens and twenties, a Catholic in Name only, I made use of those novenas in times I felt I was in desperate need- and guess what? They were always answered…not always in the way I expected it, but I was always given a sense of inner peace. I would never discourage anyone from making that kind of novena, because during that period of my life, it was the only time I prayed fervently to God.

Some of the other novenas that need to be published I do not get- such as the one to Our Lady of Mount Carmel, which begins “O Beautiful Flower of Carmel, most fruitful vine, splendor of heaven…”

This is a legitimate prayer tied to the Brown Scapular. Where the notion of having to publish it in order for Our Lady to hear it comes from, I have no idea. Carmelite websites,, EWTN, etc all have this prayer on their websites and nary a word about publishing it. My grandmother used to pray this novena often as I was growing up.

But again, I would not discourage anyone from praying these novenas because it may be their only tenuous hold onto the faith.


Our priest dedicated a whole sermon last week to what a con these are, how Our Lady (this was a sheet about an alleged Marian apparition which didn’t have any message from Our Lady or prayers but a whole list of miracles attributed to making and distributing 100 copies of the sheet, and curses which had befallen people who hadn’t) would never coerce anyone into devotion, and how to cultivate a true devotion to her. It was excellent. He always bins any such things found in the church.


God loves it when we place our faith on Him. however I do not think God has ever explicitly asked a prayer to be duplicated a specific number of times. there is a difference between promoting a particular devotion and promoting a personal impulse. I do not regard such ‘multiplier’ prayers as authentic


I call these Novenas “spiritual blackmail” and immediately delete them. I am still around to talk about it. I am convinced they are unholy and designed to foster superstition and destroy the reputation of Catholicism.


I found this homily by a Jesuit through Google Search which addresses your question. I do not know this Jesuit or have read any other of his homilies and writings but this homily seems to do a good job of answering your question.


They are nothing but ‘Catholic chain lettere’. :stuck_out_tongue: :slight_smile: :shrug:


They probably didn’t have these in the Middle Ages. Can you just imagine hearing this in the monastery: “Brother, we just received a new one. Please run out and get another load of vellum.” :smiley:


If I get them in email, I delete them. If I find them in church, I toss them in the wastebasket.


This way of using novenas is superstitious. Some priest do, in fact, speak about this kind of thing. One priest called it “Catholic voodoo”.


I think of them like chain letters, too.

I used to get e-mails like that, promising bad luck if I didn’t pass on the prayer or letter or whatever it was. :shrug:

I feel bad for those who take these things seriously. God doesn’t work in this way. He loves us and wants what’s best for all of us.

We don’t have to “copy” or “publish” anything for Him to take care of us or for Him to hear our prayers. It is superstition to think that we have to “do” something like this in order to complete the novena or prayer.

He already knows what we need.


I have not seen any for a long time; and I doubt anyone has actually done any historical research.

The whole matter is based on superstition; and superstition is at least in part based on poor catechesis, often by someone who is not particularly sophisticated in thought, and possibly driven by some form of mental issue - fear in particular. In the past, when I have come across someone who is superstitious, I have found them to be very fearful people, and not particularly rational about their fears (which themselves are not particularly rational). I have collected whatever materials I have found, and trashed them.

Now, it seems they show up on the internet; instead of wasting a forest, we abuse electrons.


Are all novenas supposed to be published?


No. A novena, by definition, is simply a private devotion with a multiple of nine (typically nine days or a multiple thereof), and generally for a specific intention.

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