All Saints’ Day (also called All Hallows or Hallowmas), often shortened to All Saints, is a feast celebrated on November 1st in Western Christianity, and on the first Sunday after Pentecost in Eastern Christianity in honour of all the saints, known and unknown. In terms of Roman Catholic theology, the feast commemorates all those who have attained the beatific vision in heaven, while the next day, All Souls’ Day, commemorates the departed faithful who have not yet been purified and reached heaven.
In the early Church, Christians would celebrate the anniversary of a martyr’s death for Christ-known as the saint’s “birth day” – by serving an All-Night Vigil, and then celebrating the Eucharist over their tomb or the shrine at their place of martyrdom. In the fourth century, neighbouring dioceses began to transfer relics, and to celebrate the feast days of specific martyrs in common. Frequently, a number of Christians would suffer martyrdom on the same day, which naturally led to a joint commemoration. In the persecution of Diocletian the number of martyrs became so great that a separate day could not be assigned to each. The Church, feeling that every martyr should be venerated, appointed a common day for all. A commemoration of “All Martyrs” began to be celebrated as early as the year 270, although no specific month or date is mentioned in existing records. The first trace of a general celebration on a specific day is attested in Antioch on the Sunday after Pentecost.
1) Father, All-Powerful and ever-living God,
today we rejoice in the holy men and women
of every time and place.
May their prayers bring us your forgiveness and love
We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
2) Almighty and Everlasting God,
who dost enkindle the flame of Thy love in the hearts of the saints,
grant unto us the same faith and power of love;
that, as we rejoice in their triumphs
we may profit by their examples, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
3) How shining and splendid are your gifts, O Lord
which you give us for our eternal well-being
Your glory shines radiantly in your saints, O God
In the honour and noble victory of the martyrs.
The white-robed company follow you,
bright with their abundant faith;
They scorned the wicked words of those with this world’s power.
For you they sustained fierce beatings, chains, and torments,
they were drained by cruel punishments.
They bore their holy witness to you
who were grounded deep within their hearts;
they were sustained by patience and constancy.
Endowed with your everlasting grace,
may we rejoice forever
with the martyrs in our bright fatherland.
O Christ, in your goodness,
grant to us the gracious heavenly realms of eternal life.
4) Almighty God, who hast knit together thine elect in one
communion and fellowship in the mystical body of Your Son
Christ our Lord: Give us grace so to follow Your blessed
saints in all virtuous and godly living, that we may come to
those ineffable joys that thou hast prepared for those who
unfeignedly love thee; through the same Jesus Christ our
Lord, who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth,
one God, in glory everlasting. Amen