Christmas Novena: A Vincentian Tradition

A “novena” is a form of prayer that dates to the early days of Christianity. Over the last two millennia, several cultures and traditions have created their own unique form of novena. Most often, it consists of reciting, singing, or chanting prayers towards a particular devotion over a period of nine days (or even nine weeks).

In the early eighteenth century, Fr. Carlo Antonio Vacchetta, an Italian Vincentian priest, wrote a Christmas Novena for his parish in Turin. This specific Christmas Novena is recited in anticipation of the joy and wonder of the coming of Jesus on Christmas Day. According to Fr. John Rybolt, the Christmas Novena likely arrived in the United States with the first Vincentians who came here from Italy. Fr. Rybolt also notes, to his surprise, that “the novena is practically unknown outside the United States.”1

In the spirit of the novena, we invite you to devote yourself to meditation or prayer in your own tradition for nine consecutive days. For those who would like to participate specifically in the Christmas Novena, you can click here to listen, pray, and sing along with a version recorded by the Daughters of Charity. Here you will find 15-minute-long recordings for each of the nine days of the Christmas Novena to enjoy.

This is the last week of daily Newsline in 2020, and our last Mission Monday of the year. From all of us at the Division of Mission and Ministry, Happy Holidays!

1 John E. Rybolt, C.M., Ph.D., “The Christmas Novena,” Vincentian Heritage 6:2 (1985), 258. See: Christmas Novena

Reflection by:

Michael Van Dorpe, Program Manager for Faculty and Staff Engagement, Division of Mission & Ministry

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