The Catholic Church has many ways to pray and show our devotion to God. There is the Rosary, the Mass, the Divine Mercy Chaplet, etc. There are all kinds of prayers that the Church prays together throughout history. One of these ancient, yet still beloved devotions is the practice of praying novenas.
A novena is a set of prayers that are prayed 9 days in a row. This often leads up to a feast day or special event.
The practice of praying novenas is an ancient prayer practice that goes back to the time of the Apostles. We find the biblical reference from the book of Acts:
“When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.” Acts 1:13-14
Here they prayed for 9 days in anticipation of the coming of the Holy Spirit. Later, in chapter two of the book of Acts, it says that the Holy Spirit came on Pentecost. Well, pentecost is a greek word that means the 50th day. (This was the name hellenistic Jews gave to the Feast of the Harvest referenced in Exodus 23:16) Jesus ascended to heaven after the 40th day. Which leaves 9 days in between.
It’s not clear from history when exactly the practice of praying novenas began. However, we know that it was modeled after these 9 days.
Over the centuries, various practices surrounding 9 days of prayer became common.
If you would like to join in praying a novena, we recommend PrayMoreNovenas.com where you can easily sign up to receive the prayers by email on each day of the novena.