What is a Novena?

A novena (from Latin: novem, "nine") is an ancient tradition of devotional praying in Christianity, consisting of private or public prayers repeated for nine successive days or weeks. The nine days between the Feast of the Ascension and Pentecost, when the disciples gathered in the upper room and devoted themselves to prayer, is often considered to be the first novena.

In some Christian communities, such as in Africa, Latin America and the Philippines, novena traditions are popular and include devotional rituals such as congregational prayers, the decoration of statues, hymn singing with music, as well as community fiesta events over beverages, refreshments or processions.

Novenas are most often prayed by members of the Roman Catholic Church, but also by Lutherans, Anglicans, and Eastern Orthodox Christians; they have been used in ecumenical Christian settings as well. The prayers are often derived from devotional prayer books, or consist of the recitation of the rosary (a "rosary novena"), or of short prayers through the day. Novena prayers are customarily printed in small booklets, and the novena is often dedicated to a specific angel, saint, Marian title of the Blessed Virgin Mary, or one of the persons of the Holy Trinity.

Martyrs' Shrine Feast Days

Novenas are a type of devotion that is often done in preparation for a feast day or saint's day. It is a period of reflection that includes prayers of petition, intercession, meditation and thanksgiving. At Martyrs' Shrine, we celebrate two novenas each year that are closely related to our story. In the spring we celebrate the novena and feast day of St. Joseph, patron saint of martyrs and of Canada and whose name the Shrine Church was dedicated towards. In the autumn we celebrate the novena and feast day of the Canadian Martyrs whom the entire Shrine is dedicated towards.

Other feast days celebrated through the rest of the year are described on our Events Calendar.

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