All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day


Sister Lynn Winsor

Father Glenn and the altar servers celebrate mass in the Xavier chapel.

Fall is an exciting time for many people. It brings cooler weather, Halloween, Thanksgiving and the excitement of the holiday season. This time of the year is also a special time in the Catholic church because of the holidays All Saints’ Day, on November 1, and All Souls’ Day, on November 2.

“November has been, traditionally, a month that has been set aside to pray for those who have died,” said Sister Joanie, Xavier’s principal. Father Nathaniel Glenn, the chaplain at Xavier, said that All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day “form a time when we as Christians remember all those who have died and gone before us.” 

While these holidays connect with each other, there are differences in what they celebrate. “All Saints’ Day is when we celebrate all the saints of the Catholic church, those who have died and are considered by the Church to be saints,” said Sister Joanie.

So, who are considered saints? Danielle Burr, a sophomore theology teacher at Xavier,  said, “To be a saint means to be in heaven with God. There are so many saints that we don’t even know about, people that led lives of heroic virtue but they may not just have been known to the Church or to the rest of the world.”

“As Catholics, we say it all the time in the creed, ‘the communion of saints’, well what does that mean? It means that we have a relationship with those who have died,” said Sister Joanie. We can have a relationship with them by remembering them and honoring their memories, as well as asking for their intercessions.

While All Saints’ Day celebrates all of the saints, “All Souls’ Day is the feast in which we remember everyone who has died. It has been a tradition to pray for people who have died so that they can be made perfect so that they end up in heaven,” said Sister Joanie.

All Souls’ Day can often be a much more personal day for people who celebrate because they remember all of their loved ones who have passed away. Remembering and praying for those who have passed away is an important way to stay connected to those who are gone.

“When we pray for those people, we are asking for God to give them an abundance of grace. Praying for someone is really the greatest way we can show we love them,” said Burr.

All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day are both typically celebrated with Mass. This year, Xavier held an all-school Mass virtually on All Souls’ Day. During the celebration, a basket of names of those who have passed away sent in by students, faculty and alumni was brought to the altar.

All Souls’ Day has many other traditions as well. Father Glenn said, “All Souls is celebrated in many cultures with visits to cemeteries, various ways of remembering the dead there (food, songs, flowers, etc.), and special prayers. ‘Dia de los Muertos’ in Mexican culture is a strong example of this.”

Sister Joanie said the most important thing to remember during these holidays is “there is life after death. Life is changed, not ended. I think that is something we need to think about more often, that what we are doing here is going to continue.”

“These days are an important moment each year to stop and remember the dead, and to keep in mind the thin veil that separates them from us,” said Father Glenn.