Remembering the Faithful Departed: All Saints Day and All Souls Day at the Basilica

All Saints Day and All Souls Day provide us with the opportunity to reflect on the faithful who have gone before us. While All Saints Day is dedicated to the saints who have reached heaven, All Souls Day is dedicated to those in purgatory. Both days are important as we remember those who have passed, directing our gaze to Christ and what waits for us beyond this world.

The Origin of All Saints Day

The first observance of All Saints Day is uncertain, but it may have its origins with the dedication of the Pantheon in Rome to the Blessed Virgin and all martyrs by Pope Boniface IV. During the reign of Pope Gregory III (731–741), the day was moved to November 1, and expanded to include general saints as well as martyrs.

The Origin of All Souls Day

All Souls Day is attributed to Odilo, Abbot of Cluny (c. 962- 1049), who instituted a general day of intercession following All Saints Day. The observance became universal by the end of the 13th century, a day dedicated to prayer and remembrance.

As Pope Benedict XVI said on the occasion of All Souls Day in 2008:

Today, with our heart[s] still turned toward this ultimate reality, we commemorate all of the faithful departed, who have “gone before us marked with the sign of faith and… who sleep in Christ” (Eucharistic Prayer I). It is very important that we Christians live a relationship of the truth of the faith with the deceased and that we view death and the afterlife in the light of Revelation. Already the Apostle Paul, writing to the first communities, exhorted the faithful to ‘not grieve as others do who have no hope. “For since,” he wrote, “we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.” (1 Thessalonians 4: 13-14).

Made for Heaven

The example of those gone before us should inspire us and draw our thoughts heavenward. As Pope Francis said:

Let us ask ourselves which side we are on: that of heaven or that of earth? Do we live for the Lord or for ourselves, for eternal happiness or for some immediate gratification? Let us ask ourselves: do we truly want holiness?

As we remember the faithful departed, our thoughts should be drawn beyond the earth and its fleeting joys. In Christ, we have the hope that there is more to our lives than our short time on earth. Thanks to His sacrifice for us, we will one day reside with Him in glory and gaze upon His face.


Join us at the Basilica as we observe All Saints Day and All Souls Day:

Solemnity of All Saints Mass at the Basilica – November 1

Join us on Friday, November 1 for the Solemnity of All Saints, a Holy Day of Obligation. View the Mass schedule for the Solemnity of All Saints, a Holy Day of Obligation.

Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed Choral Concert – November 2

In addition to the Basilica’s regular schedule of Masses on Saturday, November 2, the Choir of the Basilica will perform a special concert at 7:00 p.m. View the details for the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed Choral Concert in honor of All Souls Day.

A Guide to November Events at the Basilica
Honoring the Legacy of Saint John Paul II