Solemnity of All Saints - November 1
Holy Day of Obligation
All Saints Day, the day on which Catholics celebrate all the saints, known and unknown, is a surprisingly old feast. It arose out of the Christian tradition of celebrating the martyrdom of saints on the anniversary of their martyrdom. When martyrdoms increased during the persecutions of the late
Roman Empire, local dioceses instituted a common feast day in order to ensure that all martyrs, known and unknown, were properly honoured.
This feast, first honoured martyrs only. Later, when Christians were free to worship according to their conscience, the Church acknowledged other paths to sanctity. In the early centuries the only criterion was popular acclaim, even when the bishop's approval became the final step in placing a commemoration on the calendar. The first papal canonization occurred in 993; the lengthy process now required to prove extraordinary sanctity took form in the last 500 years. Today's feast honours the obscure as well as the famous—the saints each of us have known.
The designation of Nov. 1 as the feast of All Saints occurred over time. Pope Gregory III (731-741) dedicated an oratory in the original St. Peter's Basilica in honour of all the saints on Nov. 1 , and this date then became the official date for the celebration of the feast of All Saints in
. St. Bede (d. 735) recorded the celebration of All Saints Day on Nov. Rome 1 in England, and such a celebration also existed in . Ado of Vienne (d. 875) recounted how Pope Gregory IV asked King Louis the Pious (778-840) to proclaim Nov. 1 as All Saints Day throughout the Salzburg, Austria Holy Roman Empire. Sacramentaries of the 9th and 10th centuries also placed the feast of All Saints on the liturgical calendar on Nov. 1.
Solemnity of All Souls – November 2
The Holy Catholic Church dedicates this day to pray to the Church in Heaven for the souls in Purgatory. In this sense the whole Church, in Heaven, on earth and in Purgatory is united in one unique celebration.
I am including a prayer that you can say on this day for the departed.
"O Lord God omnipotent, I beseech Thee by the Precious Blood, which Thy divine Son Jesus shed in the Garden,
deliver the souls in purgatory, and especially that one which is the most forsaken of all,
and bring it into Thy glory, where it may praise and bless Thee for ever. Amen."
Our father, Hail Mary
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.
May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.