St. Peregrine, whose name means "pilgrim," was an Italian Servite who dedicated himself to the care of the sick and the poor. He worked tirelessly, spent long hours in prayer, and drew people to God. A life of poverty and penance eventually left its mark on the aging Peregrine. A painful cancerous sore devoted on his leg, and in order to save his life the doctors decided to amputate. Peregrine spent the night before in prayer. He was taken up into a mystic state and saw the figure of Jesus on the crucifix come down and touch the painful wound. The next day the doctors confirmed that the sore was gone and that no trace of the cancerous growth could be detected. For this reason, Peregrine is the patron of all who suffering from any type of cancer. Having suffered from this disease, he understands the pain of those who are ill, and intercedes for them before God. He is also the patron of those who suffer from skin diseases and people with AIDS. The booklet contains morning and evening prayers, a Novena to St. Peregrine, Prayer for Someone with Cancer, Prayer for the Family of a Cancer Patient, Litany in Honor of St. Peregrine, and more.
The tradition of praying novenas has its roots in the earliest days of the Church. Christians have always prayed for various needs, trusting that God both hears and answers prayer. The word "novena" derives from the Latin term novem, meaning nine. In a novena we pray a prayer for nine days. "But," we might wonder, "doesn't God know our needs before we even ask? Isn't praying once for something enough?" Although we believe in God's love for us, something we need to remind ourselves of this. Although we know we are held in God's hands and that God will not let go, sometimes we need reassurance. What may appear to be mere repetition in a novena is really a continual act of faith and hope in our loving God.
Just as we pray for each other while here on earth, those who have gone before us and are united with God in heaven can pray for us and intercede for us as well. We use the term "communion of saints" to refer to this exchange of spiritual help among the members of the Church on earth, those who have died and are being purified, and the saints in heaven. Devotion to the saints can help us witness to our faith and encourage us in our commitment to lead lives of holiness and service as they did.