A novena (from Latin: Novem, meaning Nine) is an institutional act of religious devotion in the Roman Catholic Church, often consisting of private or public prayers repeated for nine successive days in belief of obtaining special intercessory graces.

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 is often dedicated to a specific saint, angel, a title of the Blessed Virgin Mary, or invoking one of the personage of the Holy Trinity.

Within the Roman Catholic discipline, Novena prayers for public use must have an Imprimatur, Nihil Obstat, and Imprimi potest. These ecclesiastical sanctions are usually granted by a Bishop or any ranking prelate for publication and approval.

There are four recognized categories of novenas:

  • Mourning, or in anticipation of a Burial
  • In anticipation for a Church Feast or ending in Vespers (often requires Church attendance)
  • Individual or Group Petition (Expiatory)
  • Indulgence for the remission of Sins (often requires Sacrament of Confession or Church attendance)

A given novena can belong to more than one of these categories. They may be performed in church, at home, or anywhere where solemn prayers are appropriate, though some indulgenced novenas do require church attendance. Sometimes, a special candle or incense is lit at the beginning of the novena which burns during the nine days of prayer.

Read more about Novena:  History, Other Christian Use

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