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Great Novenas



When I first proposed my idea for The PennySaviour, Larry Deck suggested we do something with the large number of novenas Windsorites liked to run in local papers.


A high percentage of Windsor's population is Catholic, helped along by a highly visible, stalwart Italian minority. In many ways the Italian community is the backbone of Windsor. I joke you can't graduate from Catholic school in Windsor without becoming 1/10th Italian. I know all the swear words. Italian and Spanish Catholics raise Mary and saints to an almost magical status. If you chant certain words, you can have your wish come true. The idea was if you said the prayer (i.e., the novena), and then made your wish, it would come true. Upon your wish being granted, you then had to publish the prayer in a newspaper. The Pennysaver was filled with these little prayers. If you backed out on the deal, horrible things would happen.


The interesting thing about the novenas published in The Pennysaver was how they were so carefully written not to sound like you were asking for anything, aside from a touch of God's grace. In actual fact the person was really saying the prayer so her cheating husband's mistress would die of cervical cancer. It's a bit like a john and a prostitute dancing around the subject of trading money for sex. They're trying to say everything but "look, will you take $150 for greek?"


For our novenas, Terry and I decided they would be just a little bit more transparent. Terry wrote the vast majority. His best were "let it be" and the "drunk Scotsman's prayer". I penned the one about the prayer to raise the winged demon. The one to Our Lady of Perpetual Motion was a Karl-Terry co-production. For some reason we were always fascinated by the idea of a guy who thinks up a simple, economical way to put payloads into space and suddenly has NASA out to get him.


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(a subdivision of The Karl Mamer and Terry Brown Foundation for Creative Penury)


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