Learn About the Saint Andrew Christmas Novena Prayer

Saint Andrew Mosaic, Basilica of Sant Vitale
Clipeus with St Andrew's image, mosaic, intrados of the arch at the entrance to the presbytery, Basilica of San Vitale (UNESCO World Heritage List, 1996), Ravenna, Emilia-Romagna. Italy, 6th century. De Agostini Picture Library/Getty Images

While a novena is normally a nine-day prayer, the term is sometimes used for any prayer that is repeated over a series of days. That is the case with one of the most beloved of all Advent devotions, the Saint Andrew Christmas Novena.

An Advent-Long Devotion

The Saint Andrew Christmas Novena is often called simply the "Christmas Novena" or the "Christmas Anticipation Prayer," because it is prayed 15 times every day from the Feast of Saint Andrew the Apostle (November 30) until Christmas.

It is an ideal Advent devotion; the First Sunday of Advent is the Sunday closest to the Feast of Saint Andrew.

While the novena is tied to the Feast of Saint Andrew, it is not actually addressed to Saint Andrew but to God Himself, asking Him to grant our request in honor of the birth of His Son at Christmas. You can say the prayer all 15 times, all at once; or divide up the recitation as necessary (perhaps five times at each meal).

An Ideal Family Devotion for Advent

Prayed as a family, the Saint Andrew Christmas Novena is a very good way to help focus the attention of your children on the Advent season. Be sure to bookmark this page and return every day until you have the prayer memorized, and sign up for our free Catholicism newsletter to be notified every year when the Saint Andrew Christmas novena begins!

The Saint Andrew Christmas Novena

Hail and blessed be the hour and moment in which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in piercing cold. In that hour, vouchsafe, O my God! to hear my prayer and grant my desires, through the merits of Our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of His Blessed Mother. Amen.

An Explanation of  the Saint Andrew Christmas Novena

The opening words of this prayer—"Hail and blessed be the hour and moment"—may seem odd at first. But they reflect the Christian belief that moments in the life of Christ—His conception in the womb of the Blessed Virgin at the Annunciation; His birth in Bethlehem; His death on Calvary; His Resurrection; His Ascension—are not only special but, in an important sense, still present to the faithful today.

The repetition of the first sentence of this prayer is designed to place us, mentally and spiritually, there in the stable at His birth, just as an icon of the Nativity or a Nativity scene is meant to do. Having entered into His presence, in the second sentence we place our petition at the feet of the newborn Child.

Definitions of Words Used in the Saint Andrew Christmas Novena

Hail: an exclamation, a greeting

Blessed: holy

Most pure: spotless, unstained; a reference to Mary's Immaculate Conception and her lifelong sinlessness

Vouchsafe: to grant something, especially to someone who doesn't deserve it on his own

Desires: something one wants strongly; in this case, not a physical or gluttonous desire, but a spiritual one

Merits: good deeds or virtuous actions that are pleasing in God's sight