The word “novena” comes from the Latin word for “nine” (novem), and refers to a nine day prayer service. But why nine days?
As Jesus was about to ascend to heaven, he told the apostles to remain in Jerusalem until they had received the Holy Spirit. While waiting, they devoted themselves to prayer. (Acts 1:14) The Church celebrates the Ascension of Jesus on a Thursday and nine days later the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost Sunday. The Church began to set aside prayer for nine days, or a novena, in remembrance of those original nine days of prayer.
But there is nothing magical about the number nine. We can pray for a special need for as many days as we wish, whether it’s three days in a row, or six or sixteen, or even sixty!
The novena prayers presented here reflect traditional prayers used here at the Shrine. Please use them as a guide – a framework – for your own prayers. Remember, there are no rules requiring you to say certain prayers in a certain way. God hears all prayers that come from a sincere heart.