54 Days Ago very well-intended and inspired, I began the 54 Day Rosary Novena. This particular rosary novena is known for being immensely powerful and grueling. I “knew” what I was getting myself into or not. I heard of this novena from my parents who prayed it once together during a desperate family situation 27 years ago when I was an infant.
The historical origins date back to 1884 Naples after an apparition of Our Lady of Pompeii to Commander Agrelli’s daughter Fortuna who suffered from untreatable, agonizing stomach ailments. She and her family commenced three rosary novenas. On March 3rd. 1884, Fortuna greeted Our Lady of Pompeii accompanied by St. Catherine of Sienna and St. Dominic with “Queen of the Holy Rosary.” Mary upon recognizing her title requested 3 more rosary novenas in Thanksgiving of a cure. Upon the 6th set of rosary novenas, Fortuna experienced her miraculous cure. Upon learning of this miracle, Pope Leo XIII urged Christians to pray the rosary fervently.
Considered “a laborious novena, but a novena of love,” this rosary Novena consists of praying the rosary with a specific introductory prayer, particular introduction to each mystery, closing to each mystery, a spiritual communion offered, and specific concluding prayers. The first 27 days (3 rosary novenas) are prayed in petition. The last 27 days (3 rosary novenas) are prayed in thanksgiving for the answering your prayer intention(s) whether or not it has been “answered.” Since the novena originated before the Luminous mysteries, traditionally only the Joyful, Sorrowful, and Glorious mysteries are prayed.
My 54 Day experience ranged from great highs to impressive lows. Some days I felt immense consolation. Other days I experienced spiritual isolation. Part way through the first 27 days, I felt lost. After five days of 4 hours of sleep, I felt spiritually drained and attacked. I almost quit. I continued a few more days. When one of my intentions seemed to go up in flames, I almost quit. I continued a few more days. When I lost sleep again, I almost quit. One night when I was sleep deprived, I messed up the mysteries. In tears, I ranted to my mother. I felt like I failed. Again I resumed. Another night when I was even more sleep deprived, I fell asleep during the 1st Joyful mystery. This time I entrusted my human limitations to Mother Mary and continued to pray. By the final 2 weeks, I prayed, and I felt a sense of resolve and peace. Today I completed my imperfect yet sincere 54 Day Rosary Novena. *SIGH OF RELIEF*
Some people write that if you mess up the 54 Day Rosary Novena at any point, you must restart. Congratulations to all those who pray correctly all 54 Days. But God and Mother Mary understand intention. And effort. Um, perfection isn’t the point of pray. Love is. Purpose is. Intention is. Trust is. If that means 54 days of perfection or imperfection, God and Mary know. I learned much about myself, my faith, and my relationship with Mary and her Son. But, to be honest, I don’t see another 54 Day Rosary Novena on my horizon. But God is probably laughing. If I pray another novena like this, it’ll be for a very special, prayerful occasion.