Before we can know what a rosary novena is, we need to know what a novena is. Novena, or “novem” is Latin for the word, “nine”. Therefore, a novena is a prayer said nine consecutive times in one day, or once for nine consecutive days.
Novenas are usually employed to “storm heaven” with a special request. God doesn’t need to hear our request nine times, but the act itself, is for our benefit. It disciplines us in our prayer and shows God our faithfulness.
Now, a rosary novena is when one says the rosary everyday for nine days. This is an ordinary novena. However, often the Rosary Novena most Catholics refer to, is the one that is said for 54 consecutive days. This is because it is actually six novenas back to back and it is divided into two sets of 27 days: one of petition, and the other of thanksgiving.
This particular devotion comes from the apparition of Mary at Pompeii, where on March 3, 1884, a young girl named Fortuna Agrelli, with an incurable disease, had a vision of Mary. Mary told her to pray three novenas for the cure and then three for thanksgiving. After following this advice, the girl was completely cured.
Whoever desires to obtain favors from Me should make three novenas of the prayers of the Rosary, and three novenas in thanksgiving.” – Promise of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary
The 54-Day Rosary Novena was developed before the addition of the Luminous Mysteries, but you can do it either with or without them. Start with the Joyful Mysteries, then proceed through Luminous, Sorrowful, Glorious, and repeat this cycle until 54 days have passed.
The last three novenas are important to say even if the favor isn’t yet granted. For to thank God even without seeing Him working in our lives takes an act of faith:
“Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." (John 20:29)
For the Rosary Novena, this prayer is often prayed at the beginning of each day, but it is not required:
My dearest Mother Mary, behold me, your child, in prayer at your feet. Accept this Holy Rosary, which I offer you in accordance with your requests at Fatima, as a proof of my tender love for you, for the intentions of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, in atonement for the offenses committed against your Immaculate Heart, and for this special favor which I earnestly request in my Rosary Novena: (Mention your request).
I beg you to present my petition to your Divine Son. If you will pray for me, I cannot be refused. I know, dearest Mother, that you want me to seek God’s holy Will concerning my request. If what I ask for should not be granted, pray that I may receive that which will be of greater benefit to my soul.
I offer you this spiritual bouquet of Roses because I love you. I put all my confidence in you, since your prayers before God are most powerful. For the greater glory of God and for the sake of Jesus, your loving Son, hear and grant my prayer. Sweet Heart of Mary, be my salvation.