1. Religion & Spirituality
Send to a Friend via Email
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

What Is a Novena?

By

What Is a Novena?
Paul Burns/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Definition: 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.

While the word novena comes from the Latin novem, meaning "nine," the term has also come to be used generically to refer to any lengthy series of prayers. Thus, the Saint Andrew Christmas Novena is recited for more than nine days, between the Feast of St. Andrew (November 30) and Christmas.

Pronunciation: nōˈvēnə

Examples: "Every year, we pray the Divine Mercy Novena on the nine days between Good Friday and Divine Mercy Sunday."

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.