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Great Novena of the Immaculate Conception

Great Novena of the Immaculate Conception

France knows what is called the "Great Novena of the Immaculate Conception," which is held annually from November 30 to December 8. It was founded in 1936, and is practiced to this day without discontinuing. The original reason for this Novena was, according to the founders, the "extreme gravity of present events," alluding to the combined threat of communism and fascism, Nazism in particular. the Novena asked for zealous prayer in favor of the social and Christian regeneration of France and for universal peace. This call in homage of Pope Pius XI's eightieth birthday was addressed not only to the Catholics of France. It received a positive answer from hundreds of thousands of faithful in many countries of the world.

The participants in the "Great Novena of the Immaculate Conception" were asked to say every day at least one decade of the rosary, followed by three times the invocation: "O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you." Indulgences were granted to those who attended the Novena prayers in the/a church (three-hundred days each time) and received Holy Communion on one of the days of the Novena during or the octave. Even after sixty-six years of its existence, the basic prayer obligations remain the same, though from 1947 on, a special prayer to the Immaculate was added. This prayer reflects the special concerns and events of the time. The Novena is publicized by way of a special holy card featuring on one side the image of Our Lady, and on the other side the guidelines on how to pray the Novena. In particular, it lists the special prayer to the Immaculate.

Here are some of the highlights and intentions mentioned over the years:



Jubilee year commemorating the consecration of France to Mary by Louis XIII. Prayer is requested to avert the threat of universal war.


For the return of France to God, her "primary vocation."


For the victory of our armed forces.


The intention mentioned states simply: For France.


For the salvation (understood in a comprehensive way) of France.

A special prayer to the Immaculate Conception is added from now on.


For the salvation of France and world peace in the face of "broken hearts, ruins, and the immense suffering of the whole universe."

- The same intention characterizes 1943 and 1944. In 1944, it is specified as:
- Sustain those who fight
- Console those who weep
- Comfort those who suffer
- Assist those who die
- Hasten the return of prisoners
- Accord victory to our armed forces
- Give peace to the whole world


The prayer expresses gratitude for the newly-found peace, but also mentions inner peace for conversion of France. The years 1946 and 1947 express similar concerns.


The danger of new wars is looming but, even more prominently, there is a need to retrieve authentic Christian faith.


Deals with the preparation of the coming Holy Year (1950). The prayer is a consecration to Our Lady, the Immaculate Virgin.


Reflects Church persecutions and prays for protection against the armies of evil, their hate of God and God-loving people.


Takes up the same intentions, alluding no doubt to the communist threat.











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