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(Lat. novem, “nine”). A Roman Catholic practice intended to encourage devotion and piety by means of nine successive days of prayer, public or private, to obtain special favors and grace. Unlike the more festal octave, and though recommended by the church, the novena has no place in the liturgy. The scriptural prototype is seen in the nine days of apostolic waiting in Jerusalem prior to the descent of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2. Although the observance is practiced as a preparation of the soul for some event of spiritual significance, it is primarily associated with a period of mourning. Since the early nineteenth century, novenas have been enriched by the granting of indulgences.

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