PORTLAND---On the Solemnity of All Saints (Tuesday, November 1), more commonly known as All Saints’ Day, Catholics celebrate the saints, both known and unknown, and honor all those who have been faithful disciples of Christ and who now rejoice in God’s presence, including people in our own lives who have possessed great faith.
Listings of All Saints’ Day Masses at Maine churches are now available by parish and by city/town. Bishop Robert Deeley will celebrate Mass on All Saints’ Day at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland at 12:15 p.m. All Saints’ Day is a holy day of obligation.
“All Saints’ Day is truly a moment of hope, of faith triumphant, of life lived well in service to the Gospel,” said Bishop Deeley. “Even the premise of the feast is itself a sign of hope. We believe in eternal life. It is the gift that Jesus won for us by his own suffering and death on the cross. It is the promise which guides our own lives. As such, the Feast of All Saints puts a bright face on a dark day and season. It gives us hope. The Lord is with us. Dark as it might be, his presence is our true light.”
Many parishes and schools hold special events where children can dress as their favorite saint. For instance, the third-grade students at All Saints Catholic School in Bangor will dress as their favorite saint for a schoolwide Mass at St. John Church on November 1 at 9:30 a.m., and some schools are already celebrating, like the sixth graders at St. Thomas School in Sanford (pictured).
All Saints’ Day was not always a solemnity observed by the universal Church, having originated in the earliest centuries of the Church when Christians commemorated the many martyrs who died at the hands of their Roman persecutors. This practice spread throughout the Mediterranean and beyond, with commemorations of all saints showing up in Antioch, Rome, England, Salzburg, and more. Pope Gregory III consecrated a chapel at St. Peter’s Basilica to all the saints with an anniversary date of November 1, and Rome adopted November 1 as the date of the feast of All Saints in the eighth century. In the ninth century, Pope Gregory IV extended that observance to the whole of the Latin Church. Now, centuries later, All Saints’ Day is recognized as one of the most important feasts on the liturgical calendar.