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Books for Devotion: The Novena in Mexico

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The Novena in Mexico

The novena was a type of Christian prayer book developed for especially urgent heavenly petitions. Immensely popular among Catholic believers in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Mexico, the novena (from the Latin "novem," meaning nine) contains a selection of brief vernacular prayers addressed over a nine-day period to the Virgin Mary or other favorite saints in the hope of obtaining special graces, favors, aid, or guidance. These inexpensive booklets often were illustrated with a devotional woodcut or engraving depicting the addressee of the prayers. The exhibition features three novenas printed in Mexico City. The earliest is dedicated to St. Teresa of Ávila (1783). Two others, each bearing a devotional image, were dedicated respectively to the miraculous image of Our Lady of Pueblito (1840) and to Our Lady of Guadalupe (1843), the patroness of the Americas.