Remembering saints and souls
It is an important week for the Catholic Church as we remember our saints and loved ones who have passed. Tomorrow is All Saints’ Day while Thursday we observe All Souls’ Day.
To help commemorate All Saints’ Day, Majellan Media has a Celebrating Saints page that includes detailed information about saints. Our AI generated app, SaintScape, will provide information about your patron saint or any saint in an instant. Just type in the saint’s name and a way you go. You can also watch one of our videos on the lives of saints (Sensational Saints) or read about saints in the articles provided. Go to https://majellan.media/saints/
So where did it all begin? On May 13 in 609 AD, Pope Boniface IV formally started what would become known as All Saints Day when he dedicated the Pantheon in Rome as a church in honour of the Virgin Mary and all martyrs.
Pope Gregory III (731-741 AD) established the current date of November 1 when he dedicated a chapel in St Peter’s Basilica in honour of all saints. While originally limited to Rome, in 837 Pope Gregory IV extended the celebration to the entire Church and ordered All Saints Day be observed on November 1 each year.
While many canonised saints are celebrated with their own feast day, such as St Patrick on March 17, saints that have not been canonised have no particular holiday. While no longer considered a Holy Day of Obligation in Australia the Church encourages prayers.
All Saints’ Day is a time to consider the example set by saints and see how we can improve our lives. As Pope Benedict XVI said, “All Saints’ Day calls us ‘to see the Church … as Christ wanted it, that is, as the communion of saints.”
All Saints’ Day is followed by All Souls’ Day when we remember our loved ones who have passed. Catholics believe that through the power of prayer the faithfully departed are cleansed of their sins so they may enter into heaven. Prayers and Mass are offered for the souls in Purgatory.
Many cultures mark the day differently. In North America, Americans may say extra prayers or light candles for the departed while in parts of Latin America, families visit the graves of their ancestors and sometimes leave food offerings for the departed.
All Souls’ Day
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord.
And let perpetual light shine upon them.
May they rest in peace.
Feature Image: Australia’s first saint Mary MacKillop. Painting by Paul Newton.
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