The 54-Day Rosary Novena

If you just want the text of the devotion without my commentary, go here.

I have little patience for “never-fail” devotions. In fact, I think they’re superstitious and presumptuous, and thus deeply offensive. God is not a gumball machine and prayer is not the coin you turn in the slot to make your desire come true. Prayer doesn’t work that way.

Madonna in Prayer by Sassoferrato, c.1640

On the other hand, a deep and consistent devotion is a pleasure to God, because the practice means you have made a commitment and are using many of His gifts–faith, hope, charity, patience, temperance, etc–to fight off many temptations in order to complete the devotion. A novena, for example, is a spiritual exercise regime in which you commit to doing something every day for a set number of days. That commitment requires grace, and grace is its fruit as well.

A little over a year ago we were up against the wall and it looked like our financial world was going to collapse. I stumbled upon a devotion called “The 54-Day Rosary Novena.” There were all kinds of miraculous promises attached to it, and it was couched in the kind of cloying language and imagery that developed in the 19th century and clings to the faith like a dank funk. I prayed it anyway.

Was my intention fulfilled in a miraculous way? I would say so, yes. Quite amazingly and suddenly, actually.

Does that mean this is a “never-fail novena”?

No! But it is a powerful devotion, and for people who are in dire straits and need to reach for the big guns, 54 days straight of a rosary offered for a single intention–27 days in petition, 27 in thanksgiving–is good medicine.

The problem is that the original novena that’s floating around out there appears to have been written by a teenage girl a hundred years ago in the sickly sweet manner of Marian devotions from days gone by. It includes lines like, “At thy feet I kneel to offer thee a — Crown of Roses! — snow-white buds to remind the of thy joys” &c &c, you get the gist.

I’m sorry, but I have a hard time believing the Blessed Mother–the Queen of Heaven, the Theotokos, the New Eve–demands that we speak to her in the voice of Madeline Bassett. A lot of this is just twee French piety that seeped into the culture a couple hundred years ago and rendered the bold and vigorous lines of the faith as limp and fuzzy as a Precious Moments figure.

To heck with that. I’ve decided to start saying a new 54 Day Rosary Novena for a new intention, but can’t bring myself to use the standard text.

There’s nothing “magical” about the traditional text. It’s not inspired or revealed. The devotion itself derives from the Marian vision known as Our Lady of Pompeii. A young girl, Fortuna Agrelli, had a vision of the Virgin in which the Blessed Mother said “Whoever desires to obtain favors from Me should make three novenas of the prayers of the Rosary, and three novenas in thanksgiving.”

That was it. No mention of, “And make sure you add a lot of sugary text as well as every prayer you know.”

So, I’ve retained the form and simplified the text for those who like a guideline. Honestly, though: create your own 54-Day Rosary Novena if you like. Devotions aren’t doctrinal or dogmatic: they arise from the faithful.

The 54-Day Rosary Novena

The 54-Day Rosary Novena was developed before the addition of the Luminous Mysteries, but you can do it either with or without them.

Whatever the case, ignore the normal schedule of mysteries and start with the Joyful Mysteries, then proceed through Luminous, Sorrowful, Glorious, and repeat for 27 days of Petition and 27 days of Thanksgiving. Say a Rosary the way you normally say a Rosary, with any addition prayers or meditations you like: just add the Petition and Thanksgiving prayers.

It does not matter if your petition has not been granted within the first 27 days: proceed to the Thanksgiving cycle anyway.

How to pray:

Sign of the Cross

Apostles Creed

I believe in God,
the Father almighty,
Creator of heaven and earth,
and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died and was buried;
he descended into hell;
on the third day he rose again from the dead;
he ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty;
from there he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and life everlasting. Amen

Our Father 

Hail Mary (x3)

Announce the First Mystery

Joyful

Luminous

Sorrowful

Glorious

Our Father

Hail Mary (x10)

Glory Be

Continue to Mysteries 2-5

Hail Holy Queen

Hail, holy Queen, Mother of Mercy,
our life, our sweetness and our hope.
To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve;
to thee do we send up our sighs,
mourning and weeping in this vale of tears.

Turn then, most gracious advocate,
thine eyes of mercy toward us;
and after this our exile,
show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.

Fatima Prayer

O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, lead all souls to Heaven, especially those most in need of Thy mercy. Amen.

Petition Prayer (27 Days): Blessed Mother, hear my plea and bring it before the throne of your Son, my Lord, Jesus Christ. Please look with favor on this devotion, and grant me [say your intention here.] I ask these things of you, my Mother, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Thanksgiving Prayer (27 Days): Blessed Mother, thank you for hearing my prayer and interceding on my behalf. Mary, Mother of my Soul, be with me all my days, and accept my humble thanks for your many gifts, which I accept in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

About Thomas L. McDonald

Thomas L. McDonald writes about technology, theology, history, games, and shiny things. Details of his rather uneventful life as a professional writer and magazine editor can be found in the About tab.

  • http://www.parafool.com/ victor

    On your recommendation, we’ll have to give this a try because, to date, this blog as NEVER BEEN KNOWN TO FAIL.

  • Rebecca Freeh Thornburg

    Do you happen to know of an iphone app or something similar to help track days/prayers/mysteries? Despite my best efforts, I frequently lose track…thanks!

  • http://www.godandthemachine.com/ Thomas L. McDonald

    I program my task manager (Toodledo) with four reminders (one for each mystery) each repeating every four days. Just count out the end point and either set a conclusion date or a reminder when you’ve done 27.

  • Whimsy

    I’ve said the Rosary regularly for 15 years but this has inspired my fist 54 day novena. Thank you. And I have teens now. Kelly

  • CW

    Can someone help me with a question? Why is it necessary (or even suggested) to start with joyful and go through each cycle, rather than following the normal pattern that the rest of the world is praying (Joyful on Mon & Sat, etc). Was it revealed that way? Who made up that guideline?
    Couple issues I experience:
    1) If I end up somewhere where people are praying the rosary as a group, they are likely doing the regular established mysteries, so merging my devotion that day wouldn’t work well.
    2) In the past when I’ve done this novena, I’ve been out and didn’t have my schedule and can’t remember where I am, don’t know which mysteries to pray. When its the established “norms”, I have those memorized.

    I’m posing this question here, because this blog mentioned “create your own devotion”… and then mentioned the guideline. So, I gather there is some legitimate source for it?

  • http://www.godandthemachine.com/ Thomas L. McDonald

    There is no source or revelation for the structure of the devotion, just for the devotion itself: 6 sets of rosary novenas, half for petition, half in thanks. I believe you can adapt it however you like, and keep to your regular schedule. I prefer to start at the Joyful because I consider that the start of a cycle, and the devotion seems like it should be a fresh cycle. However, for those praying in community (which I do not do) I would certainly suggest staying on the community cycle.

    You can find very rigid rules for this in various pamphlets and online. I do not see devotions as rule-bound unless the rules themselves spring from a genuine source or authority. As it stands, all of the 54-Day Rosary Novena guidelines I have read do not spring from an official source, but from habit enforced by publication of a particular devotional structure.

  • msheaver

    Hey Thomas, I love this blog post, it made me laugh in a good way. However, I would like to add one little, but IMHO very important point that was omitted here. In her apparition to Fortuna Agrelli , our beloved Mother revealed something special to her:
    “Child”, responded the Blessed Virgin, “thou hast invoked me by various titles and hast always obtained favours from me. Now, since thou hast called me by that title so pleasing to me, ‘Queen of the Holy Rosary’, I can no longer refuse the favour thou dost petition; for this name is most precious and dear to me. Make three novenas, and thou shalt obtain all.”

    Please do not get me wrong, for I, like you, am very sensitive about any hint of legalism or superstition. However, if Mama Mary (as she is lovingly addressed by Filipinos) revealed something that touches her heart in a special way, it might be good for us, as her beloved children, to take heed. Don’t you agree? I remember when I first found about this novena and read these word quoted above, something moved in my heart.
    Again, thanks for sharing this for the world!


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