All Saints DayAll Saints Day is a Holy Day of Obligation

The Feast of All Saints (All Saints Day) is a holy day of obligation for Catholics in most countries. In the United States, the feast is abrogated (moved to Sunday) if it falls on a Saturday or Monday. If it falls on any other day of the week, attendance at mass is required unless a serious reason exists preventing the person from attending (such as illness).

All Saints Day honors all saints known and unknown. It is a feast for remembering all the holy men and women who have attained the reward of Heaven. While the Catholic Church recognizes thousands of saints officially, there are undoubtedly many more saints who are in Heaven, enjoying the beatific vision, but who are not known to be in Heaven. While many saints have their own feast days, the feast of All Saints gives the due honor to all the saints who have done so much good in their lives for Christ and His Church.

Our Connection with the Saints

There is a special connection between the souls in purgatory (the “Church Suffering”), those in heaven (the “Church triumphant”), and the faithful who are still living in the world (the “Church militant”). The mutual prayers of the Church Triumphant, Suffering, and Militant are a channel of many graces for the Church, both living and suffering. We build each other up, praying for one another so that one day we may all enjoy the reward of Heaven.

History of the Feast of All Saints

The Christians in the early years of the Church would celebrate the anniversary of a martyr’s death by observing an all-night vigil, and then celebrating mass over their tomb or the shrine at their place of martyrdom. In the 300s, Christians began to share in the celebration of martyrs from neighboring areas. During the great persecutions, so many martyrs arose that they could not each be given their own feast day. A common feast day was appointed for all martyrs, which was celebrated as early as the year 270. The origin of the festival of All Saints celebrated in the West dates to the year 609 or 610, when Pope Boniface IV consecrated the Pantheon at Rome to the Blessed Virgin and all the martyrs; the feast of the dedicatio Sanctae Mariae ad Martyres has been celebrated in Rome ever since.

The feast of All Saints, on its current date, began with the dedication by Pope Gregory III (731–741) of an oratory in St. Peter's for the relics "of the holy apostles and of all saints, martyrs and confessors, of all the just made perfect who are at rest throughout the world", with the day moved to 1 November and the 13 May feast suppressed. It was made a holy day of obligation throughout the Frankish empire in 835, by a decree of Louis the Pious, issued "at the instance of Pope Gregory IV and with the assent of all the bishops", which confirmed its celebration on 1 November. The octave was added by Pope Sixtus IV (1471–1484).

 

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