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 Funerals and Memorial Services Christian Holidays Christian Entertainment Key Terms in Christianity Latter Day Saints View More By 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. our editorial process Scott P. Richert Updated 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 MaryA Novena for the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin MarySorrowful Mother NovenaA Novena to Our Lady of LourdesNovena to Mary, Undoer of Knots Novenas to the Sacred Heart A Novena of Confidence to the Sacred HeartA Novena to the Sacred HeartA Novena to Saint Jude and the Sacred Heart of Jesus Novenas for Various Feasts A Novena for the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin MaryThe Saint Andrew Christmas NovenaThe Divine Mercy NovenaThe Novena to the Holy Ghost Novenas to Various Saints A Novena to St. Anthony Mary ZaccariaA Novena to Saint Teresa of AvilaA Novena to Saint ExpeditusA Novena to Saint Charles BorromeoA Novena to Saint Anthony to Find a Lost ArticleA Novena to Saint Anthony for Any NeedA Novena to St. Frances Xavier CabriniMiraculous Novena of Grace to Saint Francis XavierA Novena to Saint BenedictA Novena to St. Anthony Mary ClaretA Novena to Saint JosephA Novena to Saint Joseph the Worker Other Novenas The USCCB's 9 Days for Life NovenaA Novena for the Holy Souls in PurgatoryA 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 March 3, 2021). copy citation Watch Now: Will God Answer Every Prayer?