All Saints Day

The fall season has finally made its way to much of the United States. Leaves are changing, the winds have turned chilly, and pumpkin spice is popping up everywhere. But autumn is about more than fun community festivals and romps through the ruby red and golden yellow leaves. For the Church, fall is a time of both joy and solemn remembrance.

Solemnity of All Saints

Catholics across the world are familiar with the Solemnity of Saints, or All Saints Day. Different cultures observe the day at different times of the year, and many also have different means and rituals of honoring the departed saints and martyrs who have attained everlasting peace in heaven. All Saints Day is observed on November 1st in most Western cultures, and on the first Sunday after Pentecost in most Eastern Cultures. In Western theology, All Saints Day is understood to be a celebration of the lives of all those people who have attained the beatific vision in heaven, whereas All Souls Day (November 2) honors those whose souls have not yet reached eternal rest.

History: Pagan Holiday or Catholic Celebration?

There has been much debate over the years about the true origins of All Saints Day. These debates usually include discussion about Halloween due to the fact that the two holidays are inseparable from one another. All Saints Day comes to us from the Middle English word Alholowmesse, which means “All Saints’ Day.” The day before this celebration and feast came to be known as All Hallows Eve which morphed into our modern word “Halloween.”

The Feast of Lemures

The issue with the origins of the holidays begins and ends with the days on which they are celebrated. On May 13, 609 A.D., Pope Boniface IV dedicated the Pantheon in Rome to all Christian martyrs, and consecrated it for the Roman Catholic Church. The day was celebrated with a great feast and has been celebrated ever since. The interesting thing about that particular date is that it also coincides with Lemuralia, the Ancient Roman feast dedicated to appeasing the malevolent spirits of the dead. During Lemuralia, it was customary for the head of the household to appease evil spirits by walking through the home barefoot at midnight, tossing black beans over his shoulder as an offering. Some scholars suggest that the Church hoped to de-paganize the day by celebrating the saints and martyrs and to bring pagans to the church by keeping certain rituals that were already familiar to them.

Stay posted until next time when we will examine the parallels between All Saints Day and the Celtic festival of Samhain. In the meantime, St. Jude shop is proud to offer a wide selection of religious goods and gifts suited for baptisms, confirmation, and other important events. Shop our selection today.