The Novena of Grace, which ends on the 12th March, the day of the canonization of St. Francis Xavier, owes its origin to the Saint himself. At Naples, in December 1633, Father Marcello Mastrilli, S.J. was at the point of death. The Saint appeared to him and, bidding him renew a vow he had made to work as a missionary in Japan, said:
“All those who implore my help daily for nine consecutive days, from the 4th to the 12th of March included, and worthily receive the Sacraments of Penance and the Holy Eucharist on one of the nine days, will experience my protection and may hope with entire assurance to obtain from God any grace they ask for the good of their souls and the glory of God.”
Fr. Mastrilli was instantly cured. So well has Saint Francis Xavier kept this promise that this devotion in his honour became universally known as the Novena of Grace.
The Novena of Grace has been held continuously in Gardiner St. Church since it opened in 1832. Petitions are read out at one of the daily novena masses unless the petition is private and the Novena prayer of petition is recited at all Masses. The 9 days of the Novena create an atmosphere that helps people to pray and draw closer to God. All who participate in the novena emerge closer to God who loves us unconditionally. They feel secure in the hope that having placed their petitions before the Lord. God always hears our prayers and leaves no prayer unanswered.
Richard O’Dwyer SJ