A Novena for Parents who have Lost a Child

"The First Mourning" by William-Adolphe Bouguereau

“The First Mourning” by William-Adolphe Bouguereau

Why A Novena?

I’ll be honest, in the six years I’ve been catholic, I’ve completed two novenas. I started dozens, but never seem to make it all the way through. But after our recent experience of almost losing our youngest son, I’ve felt compelled to pray a novena for parents who have lost a child.

My wife and I have had two miscarriages, and that comes with its own profound grief, compounded by the callousness of others. But as I stared at my son’s cheeks in the emergency room, grateful for the color and vibrance of his skin, I became keenly aware of what immense pain would have been mine had he not pulled through.

As I was processing these thoughts out loud on the January 21st episode of Outside the Walls, I decided that the best way to proceed was to pray a novena for parents who had lost a child. As I looked for such a thing, I couldn’t find it. So, with the admission that I have little experience with novenas, I offer the one below for your use.

Let’s not forget those parents who are in the midst of overwhelming grief. There is nothing we can “say” that will make things easier for them, but perhaps there is something we can pray. May God grant them consolation and peace.

Day 1

Our Father…

Hail Mary…

St. Felicitas of Rome, you know the grief that comes only with the loss of a child. Your seven sons were condemned to die, and your prayer was that you might live long enough to give them strength and courage to keep the faith. How your heart must have ached knowing that your offspring would face agonizing pain and death. We ask that you would pray for parents today who have experienced the loss of a child, especially (name parents), that through your intercessions God may grant them consolation, through Christ our Lord, Amen.

Hail, Holy Queen…

Day 2

Our Father…

Hail Mary…

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, you know what it is like to walk in the shadow of death. The dark shadow cast by the death of your husband led you to recognize the light more clearly. Leaving everything, you and your children were confirmed in the Catholic Church. Even as you worked tirelessly for the Kingdom, you were not spared the pain of losing two of your young daughters. We ask that you would pray for parents today who have experienced the loss of a child, especially (name parents), that through your intercessions God may grant them consolation, courage, and hope, that they might bring glory to your name, through Christ our Lord, Amen.

Hail, Holy Queen…

Day 3

Our Father…

Hail Mary…

Most Blessed Mary, Virgin and Mother; you understand the pain of losing a child. You experienced that terror when Christ was left alone at the temple. You experienced anguish beyond what we can know when the “sword [pierced] your own soul as well.” Pray for parents, especially [name], who have lost their beloved child, that through your intercessions, they may share in the joy you experienced at the resurrection.

Intercede on their behalf so that Christ, by whose resurrection we are reconciled to God, might console them and give them a founded hope for the promised resurrection to come.

Hail, Holy Queen…

Day 4

Our Father…

Hail Mary…

Bl. Angela of Foligno, you lost your husband and children, a pain that few can imagine. You devoted yourself to God, becoming a Franciscan Third Order. You became known for your profound mystical experiences of Christ, and are the patron of parents who have lost children. We ask that you would pray for all parents who have lost a child, but especially [name], that through your intercession, God would grant them consolation, that they might have a share of the mystical experience of Christ that you enjoyed.

Hail, Holy Queen…

Day 5

Our Father…

Hail Mary…

St. Louis of France, patron saint of parents who have lost a child, you show us that even great wealth and status are no protection from the loss of a child. Pray now for parents who have lost a child, that through your intercessions, God would grant them comfort, and a share in the zeal and devotion you had for the faith.

Hail, Holy Queen…

Day 6

Our Father…

Hail Mary…

St. Clotilde, patron of parents who have lost a child, the loss of your firstborn son was doubly painful because his death caused your husband to be skeptical of the faith. Pray now for parents who have lost a child, especially (name), that through your intercessions they would be strengthened in their faith, and that God would grant them comfort and hope, through our Lord, Jesus Christ.

Hail, Holy Queen…

Day 7

Our Father…

Hail Mary…

St. Isidore the Farmer, from childhood you toiled as a servant, working in fields that belonged to others. Your only son died as a child. You know, dear saint, the anguish of loss and having no time to grieve. Pray for those parents who have lost a child, but especially the poor, the laborer, the immigrant, and the refugee, that through your intercessions God would grant them consolation in their grief, the space and opportunity to mourn, and a community to bear their burdens, through Christ our Lord.

Day 8

Our Father…

Hail Mary…

Blessed Luchesius, you know the regret of lost time. In your pursuit of wealth and influence, you missed out on time with those who were most important to you. In your early 30’s, all of your children died from natural causes. You know the compounded grief of feeling that you should have done more to know your children, knowing that you can never reclaim the time. Just as the loss of your children caused you to reevaluate the fragility of life, and to devote yourself to communion with God, pray for parents who have lost a child, who share in the grief you experienced, especially [name], that through your intercession, God might grant them consolation, and an intimacy with God like yours.

Pray also for all parents, that through your intercession they would make the most of the time given to them, to raise their children in the faith, and with the knowledge of God.

Hail, Holy Queen…

Day 9

Our Father…

Hail Mary…

St. Dorothy of Montau, you experienced hardship and heartache from early childhood, but also received mystical consolation. You are acquainted with pain both physical and emotional. Of your nine children, only one daughter survived. But the more painful life became, the more beautiful your spiritual life became. Pray for parents who have experienced the loss of a child, especially [name] that through your intercession God would grant them consolation in their grief and offer them mystical assurances of his love and care for them.

Hail, Holy Queen…

St. Felicitas of Rome, pray for us.

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, pray for us.
Bl. Angela of Foligno, pray for us.
St. Louis of France, pray for us.
St. Clotilde, pray for us.
St. Isidore the Farmer, pray for us.
Bl. Luchesius, pray for us.
St. Dorothy of Montau, pray for us.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us.