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PHOTO/ All Saints' Day in Art

October Wed 31, 2012

All the Saints by Fra Angelico  All the Saints by Fra Angelico

See art depicting the saints starting on the next page.

Tomorrow, November 1st is All Saints’ Day, a solemnity in honor of all the saints, known and unknown, celebrated by the Roman Catholic Church. In the Eastern Church, the feast day is celebrated the week after Pentecost.  The Saints celebrated are all those people who were holy enough to have gone to heaven after death, whether officially canonized or not.

All Saints’ Day, or All Hallows, from which came the name Halloween for the vigil of the feast day, is a national holiday in many historically Catholic countries. The martyrs of the Church were first honored with a feast day in 609, when Pope Boniface IV consecrated the Pantheon, in Rome, to the Virgin Mary and the Martyrs, and the feast continued on that day for years. The feast day of all the Saints as it is today dates back to 731, when Pope Gregory III founded an oratory in St. Peter’s to hold the relics of all the saints, apostles, martyrs and all those who have received the beatific vision and have gone to heaven.              

This feast was made a day of obligation, which means that the faithful are obliged to attend mass, in 835 by Pope Gregory IV. The feast is usually celebrated with mass, a litany of the saints, and further prayers for intercessions. There are over 10,000 saints canonized in the Roman Catholic Church.  Many of them are the patrons saints of different places and things. For example, Saint Catherine of Siena is one of the patron saints of Italy, and Saint Francis of Assisi is another, as well as being the patron saint of animals.          

Then, the day after All Saints’ Day is All Souls’ Day, a day to commemorate the dead, those who have died but have not yet reached heaven. Christians celebrate these days in the belief that there is a bond of communion between those in Heaven (the Saints in the Church Triumphant), those in Purgatory (the faithfully departed in the Church Suffering) and the living (in the Church Militant). On the day of Souls, it is customary to go to the cemetery to leave flowers, light candles, and pray by the bodies of the dead.          

See art depicting all the saints starting on the next page.  Saints include the Apostles, the Evangelists, the Archangels, and other popular saints.



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