Feast of All Saints
Today’s feast honors all the saints of the Church, known and unknown, whose virtues and efforts in this life are considered to have earned them an eternal reward with God. On this day, Catholics are asked to reflect on holiness and sainthood and to celebrate the holiness of men and women who gave their lives in faithfulness and service to God, and whose witness continues to inspire us today.
According to tradition, Catholics did honor Christian martyrs on May 13. Pope Boniface IV created Feast of All Martyrs in 615. Pope Gregory IV changed the date to November 1 to put in the place of pagan festivities in 844. He also moved it on the practical grounds that Rome in summer could not accommodate the great number of pilgrims who flocked to it. In 741, the feast was used to celebrate everyone in Heaven. The name of the day changed to Feasts of All Saints in 840. Then in 1484, Pope Sixtus IV called November 1 a Holy Day of Obligation and gave it both a vigil (known today as “All Hallows’ Eve” or “Halloween”) and an eight-day period or octave to celebrate the feast. By 1955, the eight day octave of All Saints was removed.