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Christmas Novena | Meaning and History

From 16 to December 24, in the nine days before Christmas, the faithful await the birth of Jesus. So let’s find out how to prepare best with the nine prayers of the Christmas Novena. The last days before Christmas are days of preparation: we buy the latest gifts and get on with Christmas lunches and dinners.

In this article, you will find all the information on the birth of the traditional Christmas Novena and the nine prayers to prepare spiritually for the coming of the Child Jesus.

In a CSA of Vincentian missionaries, the first Novena of the Holy Christmas was performed in 1720 in the Church of the Immacolata in Turin. Among these was Father Carlo Antonio Vacchetta, the first author of the Christmas Novena, together with Blessed Sebastiano Valfré. According to tradition, Vacchetta wrote both the lyrics and the music. From the eighteenth century, the Novena, for its charm and simplicity. Initially spread throughout Piedmont, then to the rest of the world. But what is its meaning?

Meaning of Novena 

The prophecies of Jesus’ birth were drawn from passages from the Old Testament, particularly from the prophet Isaiah. In them is expressed not only the profound messianic desire of the Old Testament with the desire that God makes himself present on earth but expressive. The supplication for the coming of Jesus, the eternal Present in the history of men, is sung.

Various metaphors nourish the joy of waiting in the Novena: Jesus will come as light, as peace. As dew, as sweetness, as a novelty, as mighty King, as universal ruler, as a child, as just Lord. The Novena wants to arouse an attitude in the believer: to stop and adore Him.

What is The Christmas Novena?

Like so many novenas, the Christmas Novena is an unofficial prayer, a “pious exercise” that has entered the faithful tradition. Also known as the Novena to the Child Jesus, the Christmas Novena consists of the recitation of some prayers (the forms and texts may vary, as there is no natural canonical form) recited from 16 to December 24, the nine days preceding Christmas.

The traditional form of Christmas Novena

Although the Christmas novena is not an “official prayer” of the Church, it constitutes a very significant moment in the life of our Christian or Catholic communities. Precisely because it is not an official prayer, it can be carried out according to customs. Still, an undisputed “primacy” belongs to the traditional Novena, in the well-known Gregorian melody born on the Latin text. But also widespread in the Italian version edited by the Benedictine monks of Subiaco.

History of Christmas Novena

The origin of the Christmas Novena is traditionally attributed to the Vincentian missionaries of Turin. It is thought that it was first recited in 1720 in the Church of the Immaculate Conception next to the boarding school that the apostles used to train the clergy.

The texts were originally in Latin and were sung with a Gregorian melody; subsequently, after the Second Vatican Council, translations into several languages ​​spread. The author to whom the texts are attributed is Father Carlo Antonio Vacchetta, “master of sacred ceremonies and prefect of the church and of singing” in the community of the Vincentians.

The spread of the Novena is also due to Gabriella Marolles delle Lanze , Marquise of Caluso. The woman moved to Turin, near the home of the Vincentians, after her second marriage to the Marquis of Salluzzo. She became so fond of this good practice that in her will, she asked to keep the recitation of the Novena every year.

The nine days of Christmas Novena

The Christmas Novena is recited from December 16 to 24 in the nine days preceding Christmas. And is based on the prophecies of the birth of Christ present in the Old Testament. And in particular in the book of the prophet Isaiah. Within the text are various metaphors of the Messiah, described as light, and peace. But also mighty King, ruler of the universe. Child, and just and correct Lord. The primary purpose of prayer is to be profound in faithful spirituality. Such as to make the child’s adoration easier on the day of his birth.

Today the Christmas Novena is not considered an official prayer. Still, it remains a critical moment for many Catholic communities. Also because it is often declined according to the customs of the territories. Becoming, in effect, the simplest way to bring the popular communities closer to the proper aspect. Significant of the Christmas party, beyond the letters to Santa Claus and family traditions.

Most of the time around Christmas, Catholics prepare to celebrate it by reading the 9 Novena prayers. If you’re interested in a spiritual cleansing before Christmas to welcome Jesus into your heart, we recommend checking out Amazon, as many Novena present recommendations await you.

Christmas novena prayers

Devotion to St. Anthony of Padua: the Novena of Nine Tuesdays and Prayers in His Honor Hardcover. See it on Amazon.

Conclusion

Among the most important Christmas traditions on a spiritual level is the Christmas Novena. Not an honest prayer, but a widespread practice celebrated in the nine days leading up to Christmas, from December 16 to 24. This is a series of readings that are used to help the faithful spiritually prepare themselves for the religious meaning of the feast on December 25, at the birth of the baby Jesus.

The Novena, which was initially celebrated in Latin, is a liturgy that has been supporting the official ones for centuries. It is part of what is counted as ‘pious exercises‘, that is, those approaches to spirituality that the people nourished themselves when the official liturgies seemed closed for linguistic reasons and the complexity of the biblical texts.

Christmas Novena prayers help the faithful prepare for the coming of Jesus. Reference is made to the Old Testament texts that foretell the Savior’s arrival. And the characteristics of the Child Jesus are emphasized: the light, peace, and justice that He brings into the world. Thanks to this Novena, children and adults can prepare their hearts. And also the spirits for the birth of Christ in the last days before Christmas.