The opening of St. Peter’s Fiesta doesn’t come for another eight days, but one important religious element of Gloucester’s annual salute to the patron saint of the fishermen is underway.

The annual novena to St. Peter — a nine-day prayer service leading up to the start of Fiesta itself — opened Monday evening, drawing people to the Lester Wass American Legion Post 3 hall on lower Washington Street.

The novena services, held before the iconic statue of St. Peter, surrounded by decorative oars from Gloucester fishing vessels, will continue each night through Tuesday, June 26, beginning each night at 7.

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