By: Sr Mariella, OCD
All Saints Day. In the Catholic Church we celebrate this day with great solemnity because we want to honor all the saints, whether canonized or not, as all who go to heaven are saints. Being canonized is official recognition by the Church that a person is holy and worthy of imitation, and are acknowledged to be in heaven (proven by miracles through the intercession of that saint that cannot be explained by medical or physical science.) All the saints we know and do not know are honored this day.
There is a long history to All Saints Day – longer than Halloween, that day of trick or treat. Halloween is a spin-off of All Saints Day. The celebration of the Eve of All Saints Day, called “All Hallow’s Eve” is the pre-celebration of All Saints Day. The early martyrs and holy people, the Saints of the Church, from the first persecution of Nero of the Christians would remember the day of death of the martyr or holy person and celebrate a commemorative Mass. The number of martyrs/ saints quickly became numerous. In order to not forget anyone, a day was set aside to remember all the saints.
The earliest records we have of the commemoration of All Saints dates back to 373 A.D. in Antioch. Later, when Pope Gregory III (731-741) consecrated a chapel to all the martyrs in Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome, he ordered his priests to celebrate the Feast of All Saints annually. This celebration was originally confined to the diocese of Rome, but Pope Gregory IV (827-844) extended the feast to the entire Church and ordered it to be celebrated on each November 1. This became All Saints Day.
This leads one to think about the ones favorite saints. Each person has his own. But the saints of one’s devotion are like good friends who will help you in times of need. So have recourse to the saints. They have made the journey before us, and know the dangers and pitfalls of this life on earth, and are willing to help us. So ask the help of the saints. They will cheer you on. Ask them to ask Jesus to help you, to give you the graces you need. They will help you, the angels will help you, Mary will help you and most of all Jesus, our Lord will help you.