The Solemnity of All Saints

November 1st is the Solemnity of All Saints, a day dedicated to all of the saints of the Church, both those known and unknown.

In the early years of the Church, the tradition was to celebrate the martyrdom of saints on the anniversary of their martyrdom. However, when martyrdoms increased during the persecutions of the late Roman Empire, many local dioceses instituted a common feast day in order to be certain that all martyrs, both known and unknown, were properly honored. This common feast day was originally celebrated during the Easter season.

The current date was instituted by Pope Gregory III (731-741). He consecrated a chapel to all the martyrs in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome and ordered an annual celebration on November 1. This celebration was confined to the Diocese of Rome. It was Pope Gregory IV (827-844) who extended the Feast to the entire world and ordered it to be celebrated on November 1.

The Solemnity of All Saints is no longer a holy day of obligation in Canada; its observance has been transferred to the nearest Sunday, as per the Code of Canon Law 1246.