This feast honours all the saints of the Church, known and unknown. The occasion provides an opportunity to reflect on the nature of sainthood and to celebrate the exemplary faithfulness of holy men and women of every place and time whose lives and deeds continue to inspire us.

Originally a feast in the Eastern Church for all martyrs, it was extended to the whole Roman Church in the 9th century as a feast including non-martyrs. It was given this date, November 1, to counter a pagan feast on the same day. In England it was called Allhallows. (‘Hallow’ is from the Old English word for ‘holy’). Thus ‘Halloween, a vestige of this pagan celebration, is from ‘Allhallowseven’ or ‘the eve of All Saints’.

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