A Novena to Saint Peregrine: Please Pray for Cancer Patients

Late last summer, my friend, Christy, told me that her three-year-old son, Paul, had been diagnosed with leukemia.

My heart broke for their family. I wanted to do something to help them, but they were hundreds of miles away. Thankfully, the God of mercy allows us to help others from far away with one mighty word: prayer.

Sometimes, when a person is suffering greatly, I am tempted to doubt that my prayers have any effect at all. Then I remember the lowest points of my life, when others were praying for me. I remember the tangible graces that I saw and felt then, and I have no doubt left in my mind: Prayers move mountains.

The mountains melt like wax before the Lord, before the Lord of all the earth,” Psalm 97:5 assures us, and I have seen it happen. I have seen mountains that seemed impassable crumble to pieces before the God of the universe as a direct answer to fervent prayers. I believe the heart of the Father is deeply moved when His beloved children pray for one another.

Since Paul’s diagnosis, he has lost his hair. He has a port inserted near his heart for chemotherapy to drip into. He has rounds of steroids that send his emotions into a tailspin. Last week, he had to be hospitalized for days because he caught a cold and had a fever; every illness is potentially life-threatening. He cries miserably when he is separated from his siblings, who cannot visit him in the hospital because of risk of infection. At three years old, he endures needles, lumbar punctures, and caustic drugs coursing through his tiny veins.

And his dear family has to watch him suffer.

There are no words that convey the depth of what this family is enduring. And sweet little Paul, they say, is one of the “lucky ones.” He has a very high chance for full recovery. There are many children whose prognoses are far worse.  Let us pray that God will melt the mountains that loom ahead of them.

I’ve never had cancer, but it has affected my life profoundly. A wicked cancer took a beloved friend’s life five years ago; she left behind a husband and young children. Cancer has threatened my friends and relatives, leaving them with wounds and scars and fears.

“Cancer is no respecter of persons,” a friend once said to me. When cancer stretches out its menacing grip, when we feel its claws digging in and taking hold, we must turn to the One who does respect every person—to the One who created every person and longs to heal them all—and place every cancer patient in His arms.

When we pray for those with cancer, we can also seek the intercession of St. Peregrine, patron saint of cancer patients.

St. Peregrine had a cancerous ulcer on his leg. The night before his leg was scheduled to be amputated, he prayed intensely and received a vision of Jesus touching and healing his wound. The next morning, no sign of the cancer remained. Since his death, he has been renowned for obtaining miraculous cures and especially assisting those with cancer.

Those who want to invoke St. Peregrine’s intercession for cancer patients can pray a novena to St. Peregrine leading up to his feast, May 1, and also at any other time during the year.

Today, January 16, PrayMoreNovenas.com is beginning a novena to St. Peregrine (http://www.praymorenovenas.com/st-peregrine-novena/). The website will send the novena daily by email to those who sign up to receive it.

Even if you aren’t able to begin today, any day will do. Please join me in asking St. Peregrine’s intercession for little Paul, for his family, and for all cancer patients and those who care for them. I imagine every person reading this article has someone in particular to pray for, and I join with you in lifting up these people who are so close to Jesus’ Sacred Heart.

May the Divine Physician, in His endless mercy, ease their suffering and bring them healing, hope, and strength.

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted, and those crushed in spirit he saves.

-Psalm 34:18


Maura Roan McKeegan is the author of several children's books, including the award-winning The End of the Fiery Sword: Adam & Eve and Jesus & Mary, Into the Sea, Out of the Tomb: Jonah and Jesus, and St. Conrad and the Wildfire. Her newest picture book is Where is Jesus Hidden? Her articles have appeared in publications such as Catholic Digest, The Civilized Reader, Franciscan Magazine, Guideposts, and The Imaginative Conservative. You can contact her at Maura.Roan.McKeegan@gmail.com.

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