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What is a miracle novena?

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Quick Answer

A miracle novena refers to the Roman Catholic tradition of a nine-day series of focused prayers in petition for a miracle in a time of great need. It indicates patience and willingness to wait for an answer to prayer as well as a deep trust and devotion to the petitioned saint.

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The word novena itself comes from the Latin word novem, meaning nine. While generally not part of the modern church practice, the early Roman Catholic Church often used novenas to various saints and they are still popular amongst very devout Roman Catholics. As the patron saint of lost causes, St. Jude is often the focus of miracle novenas.

One theory about the tradition of the novena originates with the book of Acts, which references a nine-day period of prayer for the disciples of Jesus. Early Christians devoted a nine-day period to mourning deceased loved ones. However, nine-day worship periods were also common amongst ancient Romans, leading some theologists to believe that the novena is a custom adopted from Pagan traditions. The Catholic Church urges followers not to undertake a novena casually or with regard to an unworthy cause, but to dedicate those nine days to deep spiritual devotion and piety.

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