Novena for February


Saint Agatha

Feast Day: February 5

So Fierce are the powers attributed to Saint Agatha, it is said that even pagans and Jews flocked to pay homage to her soon after her death. Martyred in AD 251, Saint Agatha is credited with keeping the fires of Mount Etna from erupting and engulfing her home city of Catania in Italy. Millions of people still parade in her honor on her feast day. God’s reaction to her martyrdom was great and instantaneous: as she was being tortured a major earthquake erupted. Her crypt bears the inscription: “Do not offend Agatha’s nation, because she will avenge all offenses.”

Saint Agatha’s Novena Prayer

O Saint Agatha, who withstood the unwelcome advances from unwanted suitors, and suffered pain and torture for your devotion to Our Lord, we celebrate your faith, dignity, and martyrdom.

Protect us against rape and other violations, Guard us against breast cancer and other afflictions of women, and inspire us to over come adversity.

O Saint Agatha, virgin and martyr, mercifully grant that we who venerate your sacrifice may receive your intercession. Amen

(Mention your request)

Say this novena nine times in a row for nine days in a row.

Saint Agatha is invoked against: Breast Disease, Volcanic Eruptions

She is the patron saint of Bell Founders

Edited excerpt from “Novena: The Power of Prayer”
by Barbara Calamari and Sandra DiPasqua


Some Saints for February


Saint Valentine

His feast day is embedded in Western civilization. His name has become synonymous with a certain type of romantic card, yet few realize that Valentine actually existed.  As a saint, his first great work was to unite young couples in marriage.

In the year a.d. 269, when the Roman Empire was under constant attack from barbarian tribes, Emperor Marcus Aurelius Claudius issued an edict outlawing marriage for young men. He speculated that more soldiers would join the legions to defend it if they were unfettered by wives and children. Valentine was a respected healer and priest in the outlawed Christian faith. He had great sympathy for those young couples whose plans for a life together were shattered by the state and he encouraged anyone who wished to wed to come to him to be married in secret. He was arrested and imprisoned in Rome for defying the emperor. But his reputation as a learned man remained untarnished and many of his followers would visit him in prison for counseling; others came for health cures. Personally afflicted with epilepsy, Valentine was particularly drawn to treating those also suffering from the disease.

 The jailer, having witnessed many successful healings at Valentine’s cell door, asked the saint to treat his daughter, who had been blind since birth. During her subsequent visits to the prison, Valentine read to the girl, taught her mathematics, and beautifully described the natural world. Valentine’s wisdom and kindness so impressed the jailer and his family that they converted to Christianity despite the fact that the young girl remained blind. This conversion established Valentine’s status as a true threat to the state, a charge punishable by death. His execution came on February 14, the eve of the Roman festival of Lupercalia. Valentine was beaten with clubs and then  beheaded. Before his sentence was carried out however, he sent a yellow crocus to the jailer’s daughter enclosed with a note that read, “With love, from your Valentine.” The bright color of this flower was the first thing she ever saw, her eyesight having been miraculously restored. She is said to have planted an almond tree on Valentine’s grave, and to this day the almond tree is considered a symbol of friendship and devotion.

     Valentine was buried on the Flaminian Way in a catacomb that still bears his name. A church was dedicated to him there in a.d. 496. The wall of the city, the original Flaminian Gate, was a pilgrim’s first stop upon entering Rome and was known as Porta S. Valentino until the seventeenth century, when it was renamed Porta del Popolo. In the ninth century, relics of the early martyrs were removed from the catacombs and transferred to local Roman churches. Valentine, too, was reinterred in the church. His body was moved to the church of Saint Praxedes, very near his original burial place. Many cities besides Rome claim his relics, among them Terni, Italy; Madrid, Spain; Dublin, Ireland; Glasgow, Scotland; and Rocamador, France.

     It is no coincidence that the liturgical feast day of the patron saint of love falls on the eve of Lupercalia, an erotic Roman fertility festival. It was common practice for church holidays to coopt pagan celebrations. The Romans considered this the official beginning of Spring, a time of reawakening fertility and warming weather. One of the activities held in honor of the goddess Februata Juno consisted of the city’s bachelors drawing the names of unmarried women out of an urn. They would then become a couple for the rest of the year, with many of these matches resulting in marriage. In twelfth century southern France, this practice was reawakened as part of the Langue d’Oc poetry movement. This was a time when art and literature took on a heightened importance to the ruling classes. Noble youths known as gallants wrote missives of love they called galantines. The local pronunciation confused this with the word valentine and Valentines clubs sprang up. On February 14, after a Mass in honor of Love, a silver casket containing the names of unmarried local men was presented to the single women in town. The men whose names each woman drew was required to be the guardian of that lady, providing her with flowers, poems, and gifts throughout the year. He was to guard her honor chivalrously. Marriage between these Valentines was strictly forbidden.

     Because of the wide dispersal of his remains, the cult of Saint Valentine became extremely popular in Northern Italy, southern France, and England. His head, which was reputed to be in England, was said to bestow incredible miracles and healings on those who kissed it. Since the middle of February was considered the time of year when birds began to pair, the English, like the Romans a thousand years before them, looked upon this as the beginning of mating season. Celebrating the Feast of Saint Valentine by citing the fidelity of doves seems to be an English tradition. The oldest valentine note in existence today was written by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife in 1415, while he was imprisoned in the tower of London.

     By the middle, nineteenth century sending and receiving anonymous Valentine’s cards and poems declaring one’s love became common in both America and England. By then, the story of the saint who had inspired this industry might have faded away, but his name and feast day is celebrated universally.

In art Saint Valentine is sometimes depicted as a bishop since it is believed he could possibly be the same person as the first martyred bishop of Interamna (Terni, Italy). Frequently a pair of doves symbolizing faithful unions, the sword he was martyred with, the sun of honest knowledge, and the rose of ardent love can be found as part of his portrait as well as martyr’s palms. Because he suffered from epilepsy, he is invoked against that disease, as well as fainting spells.




Prayer to Saint Valentine

O glorious advocate and protector, 

Saint Valentine,

look with pity upon our wants,

hear our requests,

attend to our prayers,

relieve by your intercession the miseries

under which we labor,

and obtain for us the divine blessing,

that we may be found worthy to join you

in praising the Almighty for all

eternity; through the merits of

Our Lord Jesus Christ.



Excerpted from “Saints: Ancient and Modern” by Barbara Calamari and Sandra DiPasqua






Fever / Genevieve, 422–500, Feast Day: January 3

This young mystic saved the city of Paris from starvation after an invasion by the Franks. She was so respected by the conquering forces that she converted the king. She later repelled an invasion by Attila the Hun with the power of her prayer. When an unstoppable plague of fever killed many in the city in 1129, a parade of her relics through the streets was credited with ending it.

religious_cards-00143 Paris; the Women’s Army Corps; chandlers, shepherds, shepherdesses

Invoked: against plague, leprosy; for an end
to excessive rain, the
healing of kings

infantjesus-prague1The feast of the Infant of Prague  January 14
Appeal to the Infant of Prague in times of desperation, to stop an epidemic or for abundance
Few novenas promise the instantaneous results of those to the Infant of Prague. It necessitates a suspension of all doubt as it is completed in one day over a nine-hour time span. Perhaps the most invoked aspect of Christ in the world, this novena promises that anything is possible for those who believe. Christ is presented as both a kindly child and a king. The Infant of Prague is a statue of the child Jesus dressed in actual clothing. Instead of the modest garments of a poor child, he is wearing the sumptuous gown of royalty. Because the Infant of Prague looks like a little doll, we are welcome to approach him with the open faith of a child. Reflecting the faith of Jesus, the novena requires an intensity of devotion. Many people have a version of this statue in their homes, as it is said to guarantee abundance. This novena, frequently utilized by those in financial difficulties, can be said during any desperate situation.
Divine Infant of Prague, dearest Jesus, you who so lovingly said,
“Ask and it shall be given you; seek and you shall find;
knock and it shall be opened to you,” have mercy on me now,
and through the intercession of our most holy Mother,
I humbly ask you to grant me the grace I need.
(Mention your request)
Divine Infant of Prague, dearest Jesus, you who so compassionately taught,
“If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes,”
have pity on me now. I do believe; help me.
Increase my weak faith through the Blessed Mother’s intercession.
I humbly ask you to answer my request.
(Mention your request)
Divine Infant of Prague, dearest Jesus, you who once said to the Apsotles:
“If you have faith like a mustard seed, you will say to the mulberry tree,
‘Be uprooted and be planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.”
Hear my prayer, I humbly ask.
Through the intercession of Mary most holy,
I feel certain that my prayer will be answered.
(Mention your request)
Because this novena is said for those in great distress or emergency situations, it is completed in one day.
Say this novena nine times in a row at the same time every hour for nine consecutive hours.
An edited excerpt from “Novena: The Power of Prayer”

Dining with the Saints


Cuccia for St. Lucy’s Day

Sicilians eat cuccia in honor of St. Lucy to this day because of a miracle attributed to her that happened in 1582. That year Sicily was suffering from a terrible famine, and a flotilla of ships carrying grain showed up on December 13—either in Palermo or in Siracusa. December 13 is St. Lucy’s saint’s day. The people of Sicily felt that this huge blessing was the work of their beloved saint.

The people where so famished that they didn’t wait to grind the wheat; rather they boiled the grains whole. Sicilians honor the memory of Santa Lucia on December 13 by refusing to eat anything made with ground flour—no bread, no pasta, the staples of their diet.

Sicilians eat sweet cuccia on Santa Lucia’s day and only then. It’s especially popular in Palermo and in Siracusa, where Lucy was born. It’s made by mixing boiled whole wheat berries with sweetened ricotta, usually sheep’s milk ricotta. It’s served warm and makes a really delicious afternoon snack. Every cook, usually the mom in a Sicilian family, flavors cuccia in their own personal way, creating a taste their family comes to expect each year. You can add candied citron or orange peel, honey, a few shavings of chocolate, cinnamon, orange flower water. I prefer mine with toasted pine nuts and raisins, sugar, and a dusting of cinnamon.

Sweet Cuccia with Pine Nuts and Raisins

(Makes 4 servings)1 cup hard wheat berries (avoid red wheat berries, as they don’t cook up soft enough)

Sicilian sea salt (from Trapani)

1 cup whole milk ricotta, cow or sheep’s milk

3 tablespoons powdered sugar

A few drops of vanilla extract

¼ cup toasted pine nuts

¼ cup raisins soaked in a tablespoon or so of sweet Marsala

A dusting of ground cinnamon

Soak the wheat berries overnight in abundant cool water. Drain them. Pour them into a saucepan. Cover them with  fresh water by at least four inches. Add about ¼ teaspoon of sea salt. Bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat. Turn the heat down so the wheat can cook at a low simmer, partially cover the pan, and cook until the wheat is tender and has just started to burst, about an hour. If the water level gets low at any time during cooking, just add a little.


Drain the wheat and pour it into a pretty serving bowl. Mix the ricotta with the powdered sugar and the vanilla, and fold it into the wheat. Add the pine nuts and raisins with their Marsala soaking liquid. Mix gently. Dust the top with ground cinnamon. Serve warm.



Australia / Francis Xavier, 1506–1552, Feast Day: December 3

A friend of Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, Francis became one of the most successful missionaries in history. Dedicated to working in the Far East, he converted over forty thousand people in Goa, India, Malaysia, the Philippines, and the outer islands of Japan. He died before he could reach China. After his death, he often became the patron of territories in newly discovered regions of the world.

Other patronages: Borneo, China, India, Japan, Pakistan, Portugal; foreign missions; sailors, tourists Invoked: against hurricanes, plague



Since 1999, when our first book, “Novena” was published by Viking Studio, we have created seven books devoted to the saints and the Virgin Mary. This is our first attempt at a website and we look forward to an interactive relationship with our audience. As we become more adept at using this new medium, we welcome your input and personal stories relating to answered prayers, tradition of devotions or basic curiosity regarding the lives and miracles of the saints and the art works that they inspire. We look forward to sharing other sites of interest and hearing from you.

Barbara Calamari     Sandra DiPasqua