8 of the most popular novenas — By: Catholic News Agency

Holy Spirit stained glass in St. Peter’s Basilica. / Credit: Alexey Gotovskyi/CNA

CNA Staff, Mar 9, 2024 / 07:00 am (CNA).

A novena is a traditional form of Catholic prayer lasting nine days. Typically, novenas focus on asking God for a specific intention and many are prayed through a saint’s intercession. Novenas are a beautiful way to grow in prayer and nurture your spiritual life. 

Here are eight of the most popular novenas: 

Novena to the Holy Spirit 

Also known as the Pentecost Novena, this was the first novena ever prayed by Jesus’ disciples and the Blessed Virgin Mary after Jesus ascended into heaven. Catholics pray this novena during the nine days that fall between the feast of the Ascension and the feast of Pentecost. The novena asks for the Holy Spirit’s seven gifts: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord.

Novena to the Sacred Heart of Jesus

The devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus was started by St. Margaret Mary Alacoque after experiencing apparitions of Jesus to spread this devotion. It is also said that St. Pio of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio) prayed the Sacred Heart novena prayer every day. The Sacred Heart Novena is traditionally prayed during the nine days leading up to the solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which is always 19 days after Pentecost.

Novena of Divine Mercy

The Divine Mercy Novena was given to St. Faustina Kowalska by Jesus. He told the Polish nun that the novena was to start on Good Friday and gave her an intention to pray for on each day. The novena consists of praying a Divine Mercy Chaplet followed by the daily prayer intentions. While this novena can be prayed during any time of the year, it is recommended to begin on Good Friday in preparation for the feast of Divine Mercy, which is celebrated on the first Sunday after Easter. 

Novena to the Holy Family

The Holy Family Novena is typically prayed during the nine days leading up to the feast of the Holy Family, which is celebrated on the Sunday after Christmas, and encourages the faithful to meditate and reflect on the Holy Family so that we can model our own families after them. It also serves as a great way to grow closer with your family and strengthen your relationships through prayer.

Christmas novena

The Christmas novena starts on Dec. 16 and ends on Christmas Eve. It includes a daily Scripture reading, a meditation, an antiphon, the Magnificat, intercessions, and a closing prayer. Father Charles Vachetta is credited with writing the novena in 1721 in hopes of inspiring his parishioners with the coming of Christ during Advent.

Surrender Novena

In the Surrender Novena, the faithful focus on letting go of their own will for their lives and strive to live their lives according to God’s will for them and place complete trust in him. The novena comes from Father Dolindo Ruotolo, who is a servant of God and candidate for beatification. We can pray this novena whenever we are struggling to let go of worries or doubts and need the Lord to take care of things. 

Mother Teresa’s emergency novena

Have you ever found yourself in need of an answer but don’t have the time for prayers of petition for multiple days in a row? St. Teresa of Calcutta would turn to the Blessed Virgin Mary in these cases and pray her “Flying Novena.” The quick novena consists of saying 10 Memorares — a centuries-old prayer asking for the intercession of the Blessed Mother. 

The 54-Day Novena

The 54-Day Novena originated in the late 19th century in Naples, Italy, after a young girl suffering from what was thought to be an incurable illness called on the Blessed Virgin Mary for help. The Blessed Mother appeared to the young girl and told her she would be healed if she prayed three novenas. The young girl was miraculously healed. The Blessed Mother appeared once more to the young girl and this time added that those who want their requests granted should pray three novenas in petition and three novenas in thanksgiving. 

Therefore, the first 27 days of this novena consist of a rosary said each day in petition followed by another 27 days consisting of a daily rosary said in thanksgiving, whether or not your request has been granted. This novena can be prayed anytime, however, and many choose to begin or end the novena on a Marian feast day.

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