The Catholic Novena Prayer

The Novena: How to Pray and Guide to Novena Prayers

The Novena prayer has been used by countless Catholics throughout the years to ask for special graces, favors, and petitions. A novena is a prayer method in which we pray for the same petition or devotion for nine days in a row. Below is a guide on how to pray a novena prayer, common novenas, and the history of Catholic Novena prayers.

“Prayer is the inner bath of love into which the soul plunges itself.” - St. John Vianney

What is a Novena Prayer?

A novena prayer is a unique way to pray for a specific intention or grace, such as for a loved one, healing, forgiveness, clarity with a major decision, and so on. A novena is a nine-day period of private or public prayer to obtain special graces, request special favors, or make special petitions. (The term novena is derived from the Latin novem, which means "nine.") The novena has always had a sense of urgency and neediness, as the definition suggests.

They are not, however, magical. We can't expect God to respond to our prayers right away or in the way we expect him to. When praying a novena, it is important to remember that God will respond to our prayers in His own time and in His own way. It is also important to have faith and trust that God will answer our prayers in the best way.

Novenas have been revealed to many saints and holy people by Christ or the Virgin Mary. For example, Christ revealed the Surrender Novena to Father Dolindo Ruotolo (1882 - 1970), who is now a candidate for beatification, to help us grow in our trust in God and surrender to Him. Mary revealed the 54-Day Novena to a young girl suffering from an incurable illness. Other novenas, such as the Holy Spirit Novena, have been prayed for centuries with no author attributed to them.

We pray novenas in order to become disciples, to improve our discipline and to open our hearts to God's will. Whether or not our intention is fulfilled, we end the nine days in gratitude for God's presence in our lives.

Types of Novena Prayers


We pray novenas in preparation for or after a funeral, praying for the soul of the deceased and asking God to be near those who mourn them. This could be a novena to a saint or a novena to Christ, such as the Sacred Heart Novena.


With these novenas, we hope to prepare for the nine days preceding a sacrament or other important day. For example, some couples may pray a novena before their wedding day, or you may pray the St. Andrew Christmas Novena in preparation for Jesus' birth.


Novenas in petition ask God to answer a prayer or request the intercession of a specific saint. First, identify your prayer request or intention. Then, choose a saint who is associated with the topic. If you're looking for work, you could pray the St. Joseph the Worker Novena.


These novenas are prayed as an act of penitence; we pray for God's mercy for nine days. They are frequently administered as a penance following the sacrament of confession. The Divine Mercy Novena is a good option for this.

How do you pray a Novena Prayer?

The right attitude is essential when using novenas. When we pray a novena, we must adopt Jesus' attitude the night before He died in Gethsemane. "Father, if You are willing, take this cup from Me; still, not My will, but Yours be done" (Lk 22:42).

A Guide to Praying a Novena:

Step 1: Determine your intention.

Take some time to consider your prayer intention before committing to nine days of prayer. Are you looking to spiritually prepare for an event? Or do you want to pray for a loved one who is in trouble? Perhaps you're simply looking for motivation to develop a strong prayer habit. Remember, seeking guidance from the Holy Spirit is always a great plan!

Step 2: Select a novena.

After you've given yourself some time to prepare for prayer, choose a novena that corresponds to your intention. This could be a prayer for that specific intention, or it could be a novena to a saint known and loved in the subject you're struggling with or thankful for in this season of your life. Understand that it does not have to be a "perfect" fit; taking time each day to pray for a specific intention will hopefully bring you clarity, peace, and lead you to put your trust in God.

Step 3: Determine your time each day.

Once you've begun a novena, set aside time each day to be present with God and pray with Him. It can be difficult to stay on track at times. We recommend setting aside a specific time for the nine days and setting a reminder on your phone or adding it to your calendar. You could also ask someone to pray the novena with you so that you can hold each other accountable.

Step 4: Be Patient each day.

Remember that novenas are not magical. If you reach the end of your novena and your prayers seem unanswered, know that God hears and loves you. And our prayers are not always answered in the way we hoped. Request God's assistance in trusting Him and desiring that His will be done.

Common Novena Prayers

Some novenas, such as the Divine Mercy Novena, are prayed at specific times, such as Good Friday. Many people traditionally choose to pray novenas for a saint's intercession on the nine days preceding that saint's feast day. You will pray the novena for nine days before or after a sacrament or event. In reality, you can pray a novena at any time. Novenas help us to strengthen our faith in God, which is essential in all stages of life.

Novena to St Jude

The patron saint of hopeless causes and desperate situations is Saint Jude. With confidence, pray these novena prayers to Saint Jude. For centuries, Catholics have relied on his intercession in times of great need. Pray the St. Jude Novena for your intentions, asking St. Jude to intercede on your behalf to God the Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit! We like to call him the patron saint of "Impossible Causes," because even when things appear hopeless, there is always hope with God.

Divine Mercy Novena 

Many people pray this devotion on a daily and perpetual basis, but it also has its own set novena period. It begins each year on Good Friday and concludes on the Sunday following Easter, also known as Divine Mercy Sunday. You recite the Divine Mercy Chaplet for nine days, with a different intention each day. Souls who are far from God, little children, and lukewarm believers are among the intentions. Every day at 3 p.m., you pray in remembrance of the hour when Our Lord died. Our Lord bestowed this devotion on St. Faustina beginning in 1931. Now, in a time of great sin, there is great mercy.

Miraculous Medal Novena 

Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal is the title given to the Blessed Virgin Mary when she appeared to a Sister of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul in Paris. This is a powerful Novena asking for Mary’s intercession.

54 Day Rosary Novena 

A 54 day Novena is a great and wonderful practice to ask for specific intentions in our life. A Rosary novena is a traditional Catholic practice of praying the Rosary for nine days in a row. Each day has a specific petition. A 54 day Novena is 6 novenas said in a row.

Novena to St. Raphael

Catholics find solace in countless novenas to saints who have dealt with every problem imaginable, including marriage and family life. But what about romance? When that happens, the St. Raphael Novena is your best bet. Though there are many saints to invoke, including the great St. Joseph, who had the ideal wife, St. Raphael is our favorite matchmaker. He was an angel sent by God to bring together two people: a young man named Tobias and a young woman named Sara. They both had a lot of issues before they met. People said their case was cursed because it seemed impossible. Nonetheless, God desired to bless Tobias and Sara. He wanted their marriage to happen, so he sent Raphael to introduce them.

St Jospeh Novena

St. Joseph is a strong patron. He is the Guardian of the Redeemer, as John Paul II referred to him. He accepted his role as guardian, husband, and father in the Holy Family with humility. As a result, for centuries, people have sought St. Joseph's intercession. St. Joseph was clearly very close to our Lord, and because of his great humility, we come to him with this novena with a sense of humility. Saint Joseph has several feast days, but March 19th has been the most widely observed as his feast day in Western Christianity. You can, of course, pray a novena to him at any time.

What is the history of the Novena Prayer?

This tradition is thought to have been passed down through the centuries and is now seen in many Catholic devotions. The Novena prayer has been used by countless Catholics throughout the years to ask for special graces, favors, and petitions.

“All these devoted themselves with one accord to prayer, together with some women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.” - Acts 1:14

The novena's origins are difficult to trace. There is no mention of a nine-day celebration among the Jewish people in the Old Testament. In the New Testament, however, at the Ascension scene, our Lord gives the apostles the Great Commission and then instructs them to return to Jerusalem and await the arrival of the Holy Spirit.

"After that, they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet near Jerusalem—a mere Sabbath's journey away," according to Acts of the Apostles. They dedicated themselves to constant prayer as a group" (Acts 1:12,14). This is when the Apostles prayed in the Upper Room for nine days before the Holy Spirit descended upon them and gave them the courage to preach the Gospel. The Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles nine days later at Pentecost. Perhaps the apostles' "nine-day period of prayer" is the inspiration for the novena.


The Rosary Card - Use to pray your Novena Rosary! 

As you learn to pray the Novena Prayers, check out our Rosary Cards. They are designed for convenience (same size as a Credit Card) and make it much easier to pray the Rosary often. 

Novena Rosary
See more options here.


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