9 Novena Prayers for a Death Anniversary

Updated

In several religious traditions, novena prayers are used as a way to express faith and devotion to God. People of faith, including Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodoxy, Lutherans, and Anglicans, all utilize the practice of novena prayers. 

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Novena prayers for the dead are a special set of prayers that are prayed on behalf of a friend or loved one who passed away. For many, novena prayers are utilized to remember the deceased and draw nearer to God. This is both an act of love on behalf of someone and a discipline meant to develop your devotion to God.

What’s a Novena for a Death Anniversary?

Novena prayers are devotional prayers that are prayed in devotion to God. Novena prayers for the dead are prayers that are recited on behalf of a deceased loved one. These prayers seek God’s mercy and grace for the deceased who may be in purgatory. 

Each novena prayer focuses on the goodness of God, Jesus’ death on the cross, and the request that the souls in purgatory might be freed to enter Heaven. These prayers are prayed for nine days on behalf of all souls in purgatory, in addition to specifically mentioning a loved one who has passed away.

Since there is no way of knowing when a soul can leave purgatory, the novena for the dead is a popular death anniversary prayer recited on behalf of deceased friends and relatives. You can pray the novena for anyone, including a relative, friend, neighbor, or even a stranger. Traditional novena wording includes the specific person you want to pray for in addition to everyone who remains in purgatory.

Pro tip: If you’re uncertain of what to say on a death anniversary to a friend or loved one who lost a relative, consider telling them that you prayed the novena on their loved one’s behalf. Your gesture of kindness and devotion is sure to bring comfort during such a difficult time of year.

How Do You Recite a Novena for a Death Anniversary?

Reciting a novena prayer can be broken into several steps. You can gather as a congregation, small group, or pray these prayers on your own. If gathered together with a religious leader, the prayers are traditionally recited in a specific format where the leader recites a portion, and the congregation responds. If you want to do the novena prayer on your own, you can pray the portion that the leader would traditionally recite.

The traditional novena prayers for the dead include nine distinct prayers to pray, one for each day, until nine days of prayer are accomplished. 

Novenas for a Death Anniversary

Whether you’re praying for someone a year after their death or on a 10 year death anniversary, you can follow the traditional nine-day novena for the dead. These prayers are traditionally prayed when assembled with a religious leader, but they can certainly be prayed on your own, as well. 

If you are invited to pray the novena for the dead with a group of people or a congregation, the following nine-day sequence is what you should expect.

1. Day 1 Novena for the Dead

During this first prayer, the leader begins with the following words:

“Lord our God, receive our supplications,
prayers and sighs
in suffrage for the holy souls for whom we make this novena….”

The leader continues to ask that God would be given honor and praise for his goodness and grace when He honors the request made for the deceased individual. The request is that the deceased would be freed from purgatory quickly and brought into heaven.

The congregation responds by saying, “Amen.”

After this, the leader and congregation will continue the recitation and response format for the following invocations:

Leader (L): “Jesus, through your blood on the cross,”
Congregation (C): “Have mercy on the soul of [your loved one’s name].”

L: “Jesus, through the blow you received on your sacred face,”
C: “Have mercy on the soul of [your loved one’s name].”

L: “Jesus, through the cruel scourging you endured,”
C: “Have mercy on the soul of [your loved one’s name].”

L: “Jesus, through the crown of thorns that pierced your head,”
C: “Have mercy on the soul of [your loved one’s name].”

L: “Jesus, through your carrying of the cross,”
C: “Have mercy on the soul of [your loved one’s name].”

This continues until all invocations are made. The congregation is then instructed to say one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and one Glory Be.

2. Day 2 Novena for the Dead

The leader again begins the prayer by saying:

“Merciful God, we ask of you,
by the pain which the Holy Mother saw you suffer…
that holy souls in purgatory be freed from those pains;
especially for the soul of [your loved one’s name]...”

The leader continues by asking on behalf of everyone gathered that everyone in purgatory would be brought to the knowledge of their sin and guilt. The prayer concludes by asking that God would bring the deceased out of purgatory for his honor and glory.

The congregation responds by saying, “Amen.”

As with the first day, invocations, one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and one Glory Be are then recited.

3. Day 3 Novena for the Dead

On day three, the congregational leader recites:

“Almighty Father…
enable suffering souls in purgatory
to be able to leave that place…”

The leader then specifically mentions the soul of a specific person and requests that they might be delivered from purgatory through the death of Jesus on the cross.

Those gathered respond by saying, “Amen.”

This is followed by invocations, one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and one Glory Be.

4. Day 4 Novena for the Dead

On day four, the leader recites:

“Gracious God,
through your mercy the saints rest eternally,
and we beg you to set free those souls in purgatory,
especially the soul of [your loved one’s name]...”

The prayer is continued on behalf of the person who passed. In this prayer, God is asked to extend his compassion and love to the person who is in purgatory so that they can enter into the Kingdom of Heaven thanks to the work of Jesus on the cross.

Everyone gathered responds by saying, “Amen.”

The traditional invocations, Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be are then recited.

5. Day 5 Novena for the Dead 

On the fifth day, the Novena prayer leader recites:

“Sovereign Lord…
have mercy on the soul of [your loved one’s name]
for whom we offer this prayer
and bring them to your eternal rest in heaven,

for the glory and honor of your name.”

This prayer continues asking for God’s grace and mercy to be bestowed upon the soul in purgatory. Mention is made of St. Michael the archangel and Mary, who both witnessed Jesus’ crucifixion. The request is made that mercy would be given for the sake of Jesus who suffered for all people on the cross.

The congregation replies, “Amen,” and proceeds with leader-led invocations. One Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be are then recited.

6. Day 6 Novena for the Dead

On the sixth day, the prayer leader recites:

“Lord Jesus,
incline your ears to our petitions.
Have mercy on souls in purgatory,
especially for [your loved one’s name]...”

The person praying continues the traditional prayer by asking that Jesus would set the person free and bring them happiness in heaven for the honor and glory of God.

Those gathered respond by saying, “Amen.” Invocations, Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be follow the Novena Prayer.

7. Day 7 Novena for the Dead

The leader recites the following on day seven: 

“Lord of mercy, hear our prayer.
May our brother/sister [your loved one’s name],
whom you called your son/daughter on earth,
enter into the Kingdom…”

The leader continues by asking that your loved one would be granted mercy to live where the saints dwell in glory, in Heaven with God.

After those gathered respond by saying, “Amen,” invocations, Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be follow.

8. Day 8 Novena for the Dead

On day eight, the leader recites:

“Creator and Redeemer of all mankind…
we beg you to shower the treasures of your clemency
on those blessed souls,
especially for the soul of [your loved one’s name]...”

The prayer continues by asking God to bring anyone in sin on earth to repentance and that those in purgatory might be freed to dwell in heaven with God.

Everyone gathered says, “Amen,” and follows the prayer with a response recitation of invocation. One Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be are then recited.

9. Day 9 Novena for the Dead

On the ninth and final day of the novena, the prayer begins by talking about the goodness of God and redemption promised to all people through Jesus Christ. The leader then recites:

“Our brother/sister [your loved one’s name],
was faithful and believed in the resurrection.
Give to them the joys and the blessings of the life to come…”

The prayer is ended by requesting this be done on behalf of your loved one through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.

Those gathered say “Amen,” and invocations, Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be are recited one final time.

Remembering Your Loved One Through Prayer

For many Catholics, remembering their loved ones by reciting the Novena prayers for the dead is a perfect way to acknowledge a death anniversary. Just because someone is gone doesn't mean they are forgotten, and praying for them can help you keep their memory and spirit close through the years.

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