Novena to Blessed John of Vercelli
Blessed John of Vercelli, is the patron of the Confraternity of the Holy Names of God and Jesus. Blessed John's response to the request of Pope Gregory X at the Council of Lyons in 1274 to spread devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus resulted in the Dominican Order erecting Altars to honor the Holy Name of Jesus in Churches all over Europe. Blessed John is credited with being the patron of the Holy Name Society due to this strong support for the Pope and his efforts to promote devotion to the Most Holy Name of Jesus throughout the Church.
Prayer for the First Day of the Novena....
John Garbella was born in Vercelli, a town of northern Italy, in 1205. He was a very bright, studious boy, and because of his great promise, he was sent to the University of Paris where he eventually gained the Doctorate in law. He remained there as a teacher, and later returned to Vercelli to begin a university in his home town. His love of learning and constant study prepared him well for his future as a leader in the Church.
Let us pray: Heavenly Father, source of all Truth, You sent your divine Son into the world to share with us the truth that makes us free - free to seek You with quiet minds and joyous hearts. Through the intercession of Blessed John of Vercelli, grant us a deep love of sacred truth, and a growing desire to know You more clearly and love You with greater ardor. We ask this in the name of Jesus, your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
Prayer for the Second Day of the Novena....
When Blessed John was about 25 years old, and busy at his teaching in Vercelli, there came to that town the head of the newly-founded Order of Preachers, or Dominicans, as they were called because of Dominic, their founder. This successor of the great preacher, Dominic, preached so movingly that the young professor, John Garbella, was touched by God's grace to ask for admittance to the new Order of Preachers. Blessed Jordan of Saxony, the Dominican Master General, gave him the habit of the Friars Preachers, and sent him to the city of Bologna to begin his preparation for the priesthood, and for an outstanding career in the history of the Order and the Church.
Let us pray: Lord, our God, You have planted deep in the heart of man a thirst for the truth, and a desire to attain union with You in love. As the young John of Vercelli sought the truth, and surrendered himself lovingly to your vocation to a great apostolate, grant that we, too, may seek You with constancy, and serve You with all our hearts. Through the intercession of Blessed John, we ask in particular that You attract the hearts of many young people to your gospel, your love, and a vocation of service in your Church as priests and religious. We ask this in the name of Jesus, your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
Prayer for the Third Day of the Novena....
After 15 years of sacred study and very successful preaching in the university city of Bologna, John was sent back to his home town of Vercelli to establish a Dominican priory there. He was made its superior. The small states of those times were wracked with war between the Germanic emperor and the papal states. John's remarkable gift of peace-making became evident, and he was sent to Venice to reconcile that city-state with its former enemies. He succeeded so well at this, that for the rest of his life, the Popes made use of his sanctity, prudence, and diplomacy to establish peace between warring rulers and states.
Let us pray: Heavenly Father, You have revealed yourself to us as a God of peace, justice, and unity. Through the grace of your divine Son, the Prince of Peace, bring peace to our divided world, justice for all men, unity to the human family. Through the intercession of Blessed John, help us root out of our own hearts the pride, selfishness, and indifference to others that lie at the root of discord and disunity. Make us truly peacemakers, as befits those who call themselves Christians. We ask this in the most Holy Name of Jesus, your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Prayer for the Fourth Day of the Novena....
God's grace continued to bear much fruit in the life of Blessed John. His religious superiors sent him as official visitator to the newly established houses in Hungary; he was elected Prior of the large priory in Bologna; he was likewise appointed spiritual guide of the Dominican nuns in that city. At the age of 52, he was elected Provincial of the province of Lombardy, and in that position, had to fight the heresies that had sprung up in northern Italy. In all of his works, he turned to God through prayer and the sacraments as his source of remarkable success in the vineyard of the Lord.
Let us pray: Heavenly Father, You gave to each of us a mission - a task in your kingdom. And you likewise prepare for us the graces we need to accomplish our tasks with success, so as to contribute to the extension of your kingdom, and our own sanctification. Let us imitate Blessed John in turning constantly to You, for the strength, the wisdom, and the resources to do your holy will and thus attain our salvation. We ask this in the most Holy Name of Jesus, your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
Prayer for the Fifth Day of the Novena....
In the year 1264, at the age of 59, Blessed John was elected Master General of the Dominican Order, the fifth successor of St. Dominic himself. He did not believe himself worthy of the great trust. He wrote to his brethren: "My fears at my inability should be yours as well, wherefore I beg you to give me the help of your prayers so that divine mercy may supply that which I lack in my own strength". As Master General, he combated the growing spirit of competition between the nations, so as to establish a truly catholic spirit within the spreading Order. He provided a uniform way of celebrating the sacred liturgy for the entire Order, thus ensuring the dignity and beauty of divine worship, and he counseled his priests and brothers constantly to be men of prayer and penance.
Let us pray: Heavenly Father, Your divine Son commands us to "seek first the kingdom of God and His holiness". Make us truly men and women of prayer, frequenting the sacraments, loving God and our neighbor, and conforming ourselves to Christ, our savior. Through the intercession of Blessed John, grant that we may always give to you the first priority in our lives, and love You with our whole heart, our whole mind, our whole strength. We ask this in the most Holy Name of Jesus, your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns, with You and the Holy Spirit, forever and ever. Amen.
Prayer for the Sixth Day of the Novena....
Pope Clement IV had such admiration for Blessed John, and depended so heavily upon his wisdom and counsel that the Pope requested that John go to live in Viterbo, where the papal court was then located. Blessed John remained with the Pope until Clement died. A number of cardinals wished to elect Blessed John, but he had no such ambition, and was destined to govern his own Order, until his death. Again, he was called upon to make peace between the feuding states of Venice and Genoa, and between France and Castille. He wrote to his priests and brothers: "Watch the little things. He who grows careless in little things, little by little falls. He who does not push himself to make progress, goes backward."
Let us pray: Lord, our God, grant us the generosity to seek opportunities for doing good; the prudence to do it wisely and well; and the humility to rely upon God for all that we need, and to trust in Him unquestioningly. In imitation of Blessed John, help us to be true apostles of Jesus, our Lord, and faithful followers of His gospel of peace and humility. We ask this in the most Holy Name of Jesus, your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
Prayer for the Seventh Day of the Novena....
In April, 1273, Pope Gregory X announced an ecumenical council to be convoked in May, 1274, in the city of Lyons in southeastern France. Among the acts of that council, in which Blessed John actively participated, was a decree that greater reverence, should be paid to the Holy Name of Jesus by all Christian people. Pope Gregory entrusted Blessed John with the leadership of this renewed devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus throughout Europe. In his letter to Blessed John, Pope Gregory wrote: "Let them honor with special reverence that Name which is above all names, the only Name given by heaven to men for their salvation, which is the Name of Jesus, who saved His people from their sins".
Let us pray: Heavenly Father, by the message of an Archangel, You instructed both Mary, the Mother of the Savior, and St. Joseph, his foster-father, that his name was to be JESUS, meaning "God is Savior". Grant us a deep reverence for this HOLY NAME of JESUS, and a constant gratitude to our Divine Savior for the graces of redemption, which He has lavished upon us by his life of sufferings, death, and resurrection. We ask this in that Most Holy Name of Jesus, your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
Prayer for the Eighth Day of the Novena....
Upon receipt of Pope Gregory's commission to spread devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus throughout Europe, Blessed John immediately wrote to all Dominicans as follows: "Desirous of protecting the honor of God, of obeying this apostolic command, and of promoting in our neighbor an increase in devotion, we beseech you to stir up your zeal to the end that you personally see to it that this request of the Holy Father receives full compliance by having your subjects preach with convincing arguments and with scrupulous diligence the need for reverencing the Holy Name". Confraternities of the Holy Name were founded in every Dominican church; altars were dedicated to the Holy Name of Jesus. As the movement spread and gathered momentum, it coalesced into the Holy Name Society as we know it today, brought into being by an ecumenical council and nurtured and spread by Blessed John of Vercelli.
Let us pray: Heavenly Father, give to all of us a warm, loving reverence for the Holy Name of Jesus, your divine Son, our Lord. Bless and prosper the work of the Holy Name Society throughout the world. As it has existed and functioned for seven centuries, grant that its purpose of spreading reverence and respect for the Name of Jesus may continue and grow to your glory and the good of souls. We ask this in that most Holy Name of Jesus, your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns, with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
Prayer for the Ninth Day of the Novena....
In the year 1276, Blessed John had the great happiness of seeing one his own brethren, Peter of Tarentaise, elected as the first Dominican Pope. Two years later, when John was 73 years old, Pope Nicholas III appointed him to be Archbishop of the city of Jerusalem. Besides his basic modesty which shied away from the honor of the episcopacy, his prudence dictated that a man of his years and declining health was not up to the job of governing a diocese wracked by war between Christian crusaders and Moslems. He begged to be released from that appointment, and to be allowed to retire as Master General of his Order. The Pope acceded to his first request, but left to the Dominican brothers the decision as to his retirement. They would not hear of it, and he thus served his brethren as their General until his death in 1283, at the age of 78.
His Dominican brothers, and all who know him, realized that a saint had gone to his eternal reward. In 1903, Pope St. Pius X officially inscribed the name of John of Vercelli among the Blesseds of the Church; we await the day when he will be accorded the full recognition of canonization.
Let us pray: Heavenly Father, we give you thanks and praise for the life, the accomplishments, and the virtues of Blessed John. Through his intercession, we commend to your love and your protection the Order of Preachers to which he devoted his life, the Holy Name Society, which he is the patron, and the devotion to the most Holy Name of Jesus, which he promoted with such great zeal. We pray in that most Holy Name of Jesus, your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
Prayer for Canonization - Blessed John of Vercelli
O God, Who has willed that Blessed John of Vercelli shine with wondrous prudence and strength, grant that through his intercession, our families may always and everywhere be governed and blessed by your salutary rule, through Christ our Lord.
O God, we humbly beg You, should it be Your holy will that Blessed John of Vercelli, Your glorious apostle of the Holy Name, be raised to the honors of the altar, to make known Your will by heavenly favors through his intercession.
O God, grant that all members of the Holy Name Society who make ardent petition for the canonization of Blessed John of Vercelli, may be filled both with zeal for honoring the most Holy Name of Your Divine Son and with perseverance in living according to the Holy Name Pledge.Blessed John of Vercelli, promoter of devotion to the most Holy Name of Jesus, pray for us!