Abrahamic / Middle Eastern Christianity What Is a Novena? (Definition and Examples of Novenas) Share Flipboard Email Print Paul Burns/Digital Vision/Getty Images Christianity Catholicism Prayers Beliefs and Teachings Tips Worship Saints Holy Days and Holidays Christianity Origins The Bible The New Testament The Old Testament Practical Tools for Christians Christian Life For Teens Christian Prayers Weddings Inspirational Bible Devotions Denominations of Christianity Christian Holidays Christian Entertainment Key Terms in Christianity Latter Day Saints View More By Scott P. Richert Scott P. Richert Catholicism Expert M.A., Political Theory, Catholic University of America B.A., Political Theory, Michigan State University Scott P. Richert is senior content network manager of Our Sunday Visitor. He has written about Catholicism for outlets including Humanitas and Catholic Answers Magazine. Learn about our Editorial Process Updated on June 25, 2019 A novena is a series of prayers that are said for nine straight days, usually as a prayer of petition but sometimes as a prayer of thanksgiving. (See The Types of Prayer for more on prayers of petition and thanksgiving.) The nine days recall the nine days that the Apostles and the Blessed Virgin Mary spent in prayer between Ascension Thursday and Pentecost Sunday. (Links to many such novenas can be found below.) Loose Definition: Any Series of Prayers While the word novena comes from the Latin novem, meaning "nine," the term has also come to be used generically to refer to any long series of prayers. Thus, the Saint Andrew Christmas Novena is recited for more than nine days, between the Feast of Saint Andrew (November 30) and Christmas. Another popular lengthy novena is the 54 Day Rosary Novena, which is really six novenas of rosaries in a row—three in a petition, and three in thanksgiving. Other Uses of the Word Because novenas are such a popular form of prayer, many people are surprised to learn that they had no official standing within the Catholic Church until the 19th century, when indulgences were offered for novenas prayed in preparation for various feasts. But the practice of marking special events with a nine-day period of preparation (in advance) or commemoration (after the event) is quite ancient. In Spain and France, a novena of preparation was observed before the feast of Christmas, to mark the nine months that Christ spent in Mary's womb. And following the Greek and Roman custom, from the earliest days, Christians commemorated the death of their fellow Christians on the third, seventh, and ninth days after their death. The ninth day, the novena, was celebrated as a feast. Pronunciation: nōˈvēnə Examples: "Every year, we pray the Divine Mercy Novena on the nine days between Good Friday and Divine Mercy Sunday." Novenas to Our Lady A Novena to the Immaculate Heart of Mary A Novena for the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Sorrowful Mother Novena A Novena to Our Lady of Lourdes Novena to Mary, Undoer of Knots Novenas to the Sacred Heart A Novena of Confidence to the Sacred Heart A Novena to the Sacred Heart A Novena to Saint Jude and the Sacred Heart of Jesus Novenas for Various Feasts A Novena for the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary The Saint Andrew Christmas Novena The Divine Mercy Novena The Novena to the Holy Ghost Novenas to Various Saints A Novena to St. Anthony Mary Zaccaria A Novena to Saint Teresa of Avila A Novena to Saint Expeditus A Novena to Saint Charles Borromeo A Novena to Saint Anthony to Find a Lost Article A Novena to Saint Anthony for Any Need A Novena to St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Miraculous Novena of Grace to Saint Francis Xavier A Novena to Saint Benedict A Novena to St. Anthony Mary Claret A Novena to Saint Joseph A Novena to Saint Joseph the Worker Other Novenas The USCCB's 9 Days for Life Novena A Novena for the Holy Souls in Purgatory A Novena to the Holy Family Cite this Article Format mla apa chicago Your Citation Richert, Scott P. "What Is a Novena? (Definition and Examples of Novenas)." Learn Religions, Feb. 8, 2021, learnreligions.com/what-is-a-novena-542580. Richert, Scott P. (2021, February 8). What Is a Novena? (Definition and Examples of Novenas). Retrieved from https://www.learnreligions.com/what-is-a-novena-542580 Richert, Scott P. "What Is a Novena? (Definition and Examples of Novenas)." Learn Religions. https://www.learnreligions.com/what-is-a-novena-542580 (accessed April 2, 2023). copy citation Watch Now: Will God Answer Every Prayer?