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All Saints Day: November 1st

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Posted 11-01-2012 at 07:50 AM by lauriebear

All Saints Day, the day on which Christians 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 (sp ???) 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 honored.

The Date is November 1st
Type of Feast: Solemnity; Holy Day of Obligation
Typical Readings: Revelation 7:2-4, 9-14; Psalm 24:1bc-2, 3-4ab, 5-6; 1 John 3:1-3; Matthew 5:1-12a
Typical Prayers: Litany of the Saints

History of All Saints Day:
By the late fourth century, this common feast was celebrated in Antioch, and Saint Ephrem (sp ???) the Syrian mentioned it in a sermon in the year 373 AD. In the early centuries, this feast was celebrated in the Easter season, and the Eastern Churches, both Catholic and Orthodox, still celebrate it then.

The current date of November 1 was instituted by Pope Gregory III, of the Rome Catholic Church when he consecrated a chapel to all the martyrs in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome and ordered an annual celebration. This celebration was originally confined to the diocese of Rome, but Pope Gregory IV extended the feast to the entire Church and ordered it to be celebrated on November 1.

The vigil or eve of the feast, October 31, is commonly known as All Hallows Eve, or Halloween. Despite concerns among some Christians (including some Catholics) in recent years about the "pagan origins" of Halloween, the vigil was celebrated from the beginning—long before Irish practices, stripped of their pagan origins (just as the Christmas tree with similar connotations), were incorporated into popular celebrations of the feast.
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