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Feast of All Saints’ Day: Origin and Meaning, Celebration, Prayers

Feast of All Saints’ Day: Origin and Meaning, Celebration, Prayers

The feast of All Saints, also known as the feast of All Hallows or Hallowmas, is celebrated on November 1 by Catholics. On this particular day, the Church pays tribute to all the saints in heaven.

Often confused with the All Souls’ Day or even with the feast of the dead celebrated in Buddhist traditions—All Saints' Day is not a feast that emphasizes not death, but life! This feast is a real call to holiness and invites us to joy, because it allows us to enter into the mystery of heaven and eternity!

All Saints' Day: what does the date of November 1 mean for Christians?

All Saints' Day, the feast of all saints!

As its name suggests, All Saints' Day is the feast of all saints! 

This means that on November 1, the Church celebrates all those who have already entered into divine glory! It is about all people, known or unknown, who are in beatitude because of their state of holiness. 

Among them, many have been canonized by the Church, that is to say, officially recognized as saints. However, many others are unknown, but have also lived as witnesses of Christ throughout their lives. That's why we also celebrate them on November 1. 

The feast of All Saints has a very special meaning for Christians: it is an opportunity to remind us of our deep vocation to holiness, regardless of our state of life! It concerns all those who decide to follow Christ! The Catholic Church states this as follows: “The call to the fullness of Christian life and to the perfection of charity is addressed to all those who believe in Christ, regardless of their state or rank” (Vatican II, Lumen gentium 40). 

 All Saints' Day is a feast that invites us to rejoice by contemplating those who are already in heavenly beatitude! 

The Communion of Saints 

On All Saints' Day, we also celebrate one of the dogmas of the Church: that of the “communion of saints”. Every Sunday, we proclaim this article of faith, proclaimed in the Symbol of the Apostles in the 5th century. What does it mean exactly?


The term “communion” refers to the union of the people of God, composed of all the saints and all the living faithful of Christ. By belonging to Christ and united by the gifts of the Holy Spirit, they share the same “holy things” and are called to grow together in faith, hope and charity.


Also called “doctrine of the mystical body”, it is based on the teaching of Saint Paul in the letter to the Corinthians: “Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body”.


Thus, the communion of saints is a reality that every Christian experiences right now: the deployment of God in us, in order to unite and sanctify us!

Since when does the Catholic Church celebrate the saints?

In the 4th and 5th centuries, the Eastern Churches already honored the saints and martyrs the Sunday following Pentecost. Pope Boniface IV formalized these traditions two centuries later when he dedicated the Pantheon to Mary and all the holy martyrs, on May 13. 

It was not until the 8th century that the date of November 1 became that of the celebration of the feast of All Saints: it was chosen following the dedication of the basilica of Saint Peter of Rome by Pope Gregory III. His successor, Gregory IV, then ordered the celebration of this feast to all Christendom: the Carolingian emperor Louis the Pious then officially instituted the feast of All Saints on November 1.

In the 9th century, a celebration of the dead appeared after the feast of All Saints. Initially called “feast of the deceased”, it entered the Roman liturgy in the 13th century as a commemoration of the deceased faithful. 

Liturgy of the celebration of the feast of All Saints’ Day

Solemnity of All Saints’ Day

The solemnity of All Saints' Day begins on the evening of October 31 during Vespers, and continues until the evening of November 1


The Mass of All Saints leads us to read the Book of Revelations by Saint John, which emphasizes the multitude of saints: “There before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language.” (Revelation 7:9).

We then read the first letter of Saint John: “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” (John 3: 2). 

These texts plunge us into the mystery of heaven and show us the multitude of men and women who became saints because they followed Christ! To meditate on these writings is to enter into the joy and hope of eternal life!

The Gospel of the Celebration of All Saints' Day: the Beatitudes

The celebration of the Mass of All Saints is based on the reading of the Gospel of Saint Matthew, with the text of the Beatitudes: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven… Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” (Matthew 5:3, 8).

This sermon on the mount by Jesus summarizes by itself His public ministry and tells us what our expected path of holiness is!

On All Saints' Day, we can meditate on the many saints who, with their lives turned towards Christ, filled with the presence of the Holy Spirit, sought to put into practice this path of the beatitudes. The saints we pray to on this day are not only the best-known great saints, they are also all those “poor in heart”, those “thirsty for justice”, etc. 

Let us take as an example all those men and women who became saints by following the path of the Beatitudes and allowing themselves to be transformed by Christ!

Pray on the occasion of the feast of All Saints’ Day

Pray for the support of the Saints in Heaven

“Lord, we thank you for all the saints in heaven, the angels, the patriarchs, the prophets, the Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph, the apostles, the evangelists, the martyrs, the priests, the men and women of the clergy, the laity who chose you in every moment of their lives. In celebrating all the saints in heaven, we celebrate your action in their lives. Like them, you call us to be holy as you are holy. We can't do this without you. Realize yourself in our vocation to holiness by the power of the Holy Spirit. You want that where there is more holiness, there be more humanity. Help us not to be discouraged by our shortcomings, our sins, our delays. We don't want to be heroes who rely only on themselves, but saints who rely only on you to do your will with every move of our lives. That in this time of autumn, this feast of All Saints reminds us of the eternal promise of life that you send us at baptism. Grant us the support of the saints, who are our companions in heaven. We entrust to You all our loved ones who have died, so that they too may share the fate of the saints in Your light. So be it.”

Dom Ludovic Lécuru, Benedictine of Saint-Wandrille


Also discover the Guide to Saints to learn about their exemplary lives and ask for their intercession!

Pray to the Virgin Mary to become holy!

“I choose you today, oh Mary, before all of the heavenly court, for my mother and queen. I give you and consecrate, in all submission and love, my body and soul, my inner and outer goods, and the very value of my good deeds past, present and future, leaving you with a full and complete right to dispose of me and all that belongs to me, without exception, according to your good pleasure, to the greatest glory of God, in time and eternity.”

Saint Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort


Pray the litany of saints on the occasion of the feast of All Saints’ Day 

Pray with the saints on Hozana!


The innumerable crowd of saints, true witnesses of the love of God, are role models for us who are walking towards holiness! Pray to them with Hozana in order to learn to live like them and become holy yourself:



Also turn to the Blessed Virgin, because “learning from her is the fastest way to holiness”, as John Paul II told us during the canonization of the children of Fatima!


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