St. John’s Church, in Worcester, Mass., is continuing a long tradition this week, celebrating the Novena of Grace made in honor of St. Francis Xavier – the 91st year that St. John’s parishioners have taken part in this devotion.
The Novena of Grace is offered in parishes throughout the world, with roots dating back to the 17th century, when St. Francis Xavier – the early Jesuit and missionary saint – appeared before a gravely injured Jesuit priest in Naples. Xavier instructed the injured priest to re-state his intentions of traveling to overseas missions, to pray for nine days and to receive the sacraments of penance and Holy Communion. The priest did so and was miraculously healed, but would later die a martyr just days after arriving in Japan to serve the Jesuit Mission.
In the centuries since, people have prayed for the intercession of St. Francis Xavier each year from March 4-12, in recognition of the innumerable graces and extraordinary favors obtained by this novena.
Beginning this week and continuing through March 12, parishioners will attend Mass, gather in prayer and hear from three Jesuit speakers – Fr. Robert Keane, SJ, Fr. Charles Currie, SJ, and Fr. Jeremy Clarke, SJ – who will discuss their ministerial experiences abroad in the Middle East, Japan, El Salvador, Vietnam and China.
“Help us pray upon Xavier’s story and reflect upon the ways that that encourages us to be better people, better Christians and better people in the world,” Fr. Clarke said in a promotional video and invitation to the novena.
The novena is organized by Fr. John Madden, pastor of St. John’s Church, and by Mr. Frank Carroll. It is open to persons of all faith traditions and degrees of faith, affording time for reflection, intercession and the opening of oneself to God’s rejuvenating and transformative spirit.
For the complete St. John’s Church Mass and novena prayer schedule, click here.