Did You Know: The Feast of All Saints
Many scholars think that the commemoration of all the saints at the beginning of November began in Ireland, spread from there to England, and then to the continent of Europe. By the ninth century the festival was observed throughout the Western Church. Even so, the desire of faithful people to express the intercommunion of the living and the dead seems to have been part of the piety of believers from the very beginning of Christianity. The deaths of the early martyrs fueled the conviction that Christians were one with those who had led lives of grace and crowned them with heroic deaths. By the year 270 reference is found to the observance of a festival of all martyrs. In Eastern Churches observances of all the saints appear in the fourth and fifth centuries.
In the Book of Common Prayer, All Saints’ Day is considered a Principal Feast, which means it takes precedence over any other day or observance that conflicts with it. The feast is also one of the four days recommended for the administration of Holy Baptism.
Reprinted from News from St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Wells, Vermont