Tuesday, 1 November 2016

The Feast of All Saints: Hallowe'en, All Hallows, Hallowmas and Hallowtide...

Hallowe'en, All Hallows, Hallowmas and Hallowtide...

All Saints’ Day, All Hallows, or Hallowmas begins at Vespers on the evening of 31 October – which, of course, is known as the Eve of All Hallows, Halloweven or Hallowe’en, and ends at sundown on 1 November. This is the feast commemorating the saints, all those who have attained the beatific vision in Heaven.

The following day, unless it is a Sunday, is called All Souls’ Day. The Feast of All Souls is a day of prayer for all the Faithful departed who have not yet been purified in the fires of Purgatory and reached Heaven, remembering that there is a union of prayer between those in Heaven (the "Church triumphant"),those in Purgatory (the "Church suffering") and the living (the "Church militant"). 

The Church Suffering are taken from Purgatory into Heaven to join the Church Triumphant

Some scholars believe that the Feast of All Saints may have been a christianisation of the ancient Roman observation of 13 May, the Feast of the Lemures, in which malevolent and restless spirits of the dead were propitiated. 

Churches in Britain were already celebrating All Saints on 1 November at the beginning of the 8th century to coincide or replace the Celtic festival of the Dead (Samhain). Others suggest that date was a Germanic idea, rather Celtic. Interestingly, according to Óengus of Tallaght (d. ca. 824), the 7th/8th century church in Ireland celebrated All Saints on 20 April. 

The Eastern Orthodox Church of the Byzantine Tradition commemorate all saints collectively on the first Sunday after Pentecost, All Saints’ Sunday (Greek: Αγίων Πάντων, Agiōn Pantōn). 

The feast of All Saints achieved great prominence in the ninteenth century, in the reign of the Byzantine Emperor, Emperor Leo VI "the Wise" (886–911). 

After the death of his devout wife, Empress Theophano in 893, her husband built and wanted to dedicate a church to her but, when not ecclesiastically permitted, he dedicated it to all the saints so that she would in effect be celebrated thereby.

The Emperor Leo IV the Wise and Empress Theophano

In the persecution of Diocletian the number of martyrs became so great that a separate day could not be assigned to each and the Church, feeling that every martyr should be venerated, appointed one day for all.  

On 13 May 609 or 610, Pope St Boniface IV consecrated the Pantheon at Rome to the Blessed Virgin and all the martyrs and the feast of the dedicatio Sanctae Mariae ad Martyres has been celebrated at Rome ever since.

Pope St Boniface IV

Pope St Gregory III (731–741) founded an oratory in St Peter’s Basilica for the relics of all the apostles and saints and moved the feast day from 13 May to 1 November. 

Pope St Gregory III

A November festival of all the saints was made a day of obligation throughout the Frankish empire in 835, by a decree of Emperor Louis the Pious, at the behest of Pope Gregory IV and all the bishops, with an octave added by Pope Sixtus IV (1471–1484).


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