Novenas, then, often, but not necessarily, have about them a sense of “urgency”; they are typically made for special intentions, one’s own or another’s (“I’ll make a novena for you”). Novenas to certain Saints are often made according to that Saint’s patronage; for ex., because of his New Testament letter encouraging Christians to persevere in the face of persecution, St. Jude is the patron of desperate situations and “hopeless” causes, so a person who finds himself or a loved one in a real tough bind might make a novena to St. Jude (by the way, it is traditional, after making a novena to St. Jude, to make a public expression of your gratitude. This is the reason for those mysterious thank you notes to St. Jude that you might see in your local newspaper’s Classifieds section).

There are four main types of novenas (a novena may fit into more than one category):

  • novenas of mourning, such as the novena made during the novemdiales — the nine day period following the death of a Pope
  • novenas of preparation, or “anticipation,” such as the Christmas or Easter Novenas
  • novenas of prayer
  • the indulgenced novenas

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