All Saints’ Day is a Holy Day of Obligation celebrated by the liturgical Church on November 1. We turn to the saints, those known and unknown by the Church, as guides and models of holiness on this day.
Table of Contents
- All Saints’ Day FAQ
- Holy Day of Obligation — All Saints’ Day Mass
- All Saints’ Day & the Beatitudes
- How to Celebrate All Saints’ Day
- All Saints’ Day Prayers
- Related Prayers and Guides
All Saints’ Day FAQ
All Saints’ Day celebrates the feast or solemnity of all the saints in Heaven, both saints recognized by the Church as holy men and women and those who remain unknown.
All Saints’ Day is celebrated on November 1 every year. In 2023, All Saints’ Day falls on a Wednesday.
Yes, All Saints’ Day is a holy day of obligation. Catholics are expected to attend Mass on All Saints’ Day.
All Saints’ Day celebrates the holy men and women in Heaven, those known and unknown by the Church, on November 1, whereas All Souls’ Day honors all of the faithful departed on November 2. In some countries, such as Mexico, people know All Souls’ Day as the second day of “Día de Los Muertos.”
The Church recognizes white as the liturgical color for All Saints’ Day. The color white symbolizes the holiness and purity of the saints in Heaven.
Pope Boniface IV instituted All Saints’ Day in the Church in 609 when the Roman temple of the Pantheon in Rome became a Church named the Basilica di Santa Maria ad Martyres (the Basilica of St. Mary and the Martyrs). Initially instituted in May, Pope Gregory IV moved the holy day to November two centuries later, in 837. Since then, Christians have celebrated All Saints’ Day on the first day of November.
Holy Day of Obligation – All Saints’ Day Mass
All Saints’ Day is one of the Holy Days of Obligation in the Catholic Church; Mass attendance is expected on November 1 for all who are able. For this All Saints’ Day on November 1, 2023, the Mass readings for the Solemnity of All Saints are from Revelation, the First Letter of John, and the Gospel of Matthew, in which we will hear the Beatitudes.
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain,
and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him.
He began to teach them, saying:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the land …Matthew 5:1-5
Often, in All Saints’ Day Masses, priests speak of the saints we look to as guides and teachers, reminding us that we, too, can pursue sainthood amidst all our human imperfections.
As St. Francis de Sales encourages us, “You learn to speak by speaking, to study by studying, to run by running, to work by working; in just the same way you learn to love by loving.”
All Saints’ Day & the Beatitudes
With this reading of the Beatitudes on All Saints’ Day, Pope Francis and St. (Pope) John Paul II have offered beautiful homilies exploring this connection between the saints and the beatitudes.
In his homily on the Solemnity of All Saints in 2000, St. John Paul II reflected,
“The saints took these words of Jesus seriously. They believed that they would find “happiness” by putting them into practice in their lives. And they realized their truth in everyday experience: despite their trials, moments of darkness and failures, they already tasted here below the deep joy of communion with Christ. In him they discovered the initial seed, already present in time, of the future glory of God’s kingdom.”
Twenty years later, on the same day, Pope Francis likewise encouraged us to draw inspiration from the saints as guides for living out the Beatitudes:
“On this solemn Feast of All Saints, the Church invites us to reflect on the great hope, that is based on Christ’s Resurrection: Christ is risen and we will also be with him. The Saints and Blesseds are the most authoritative witnesses of Christian hope, because they lived it fully in their lives, amidst joys and sufferings, putting into practice the Beatitudes that Jesus preached and which resound in the Liturgy today. The evangelical Beatitudes, in fact, are the path to holiness.”
How to Celebrate All Saints’ Day
- Go to Mass; most parishes offer morning and evening Mass times on Holy Days of Obligation; check your local parish website for more information.
- Take some time to explore some religious art of the saints! You might be able to find a parish near you with stained glass windows of the saints. Or, you could even take a virtual tour of Raphael’s Rooms or the Sistine Chapel on the Vatican Museums website.
- Pray with a saint; check out our guide on praying with saints here.
- Read about a saint’s life or read a book by one of the saints. On Hallow, you can listen to St. Thérèse of Lisieux’s spiritual classic The Story of a Soul, narrated by Sr. Orianne, FSP, or St. Francis de Sales’ Intro to Devout Life, narrated by Fr. Simon Esshaki.
All Saints’ Day Prayers
Collect Prayer for All Saints’ Day
This prayer is said in churches all over the world on All Saints’ Day.
“Almighty ever-living God, by whose gift we venerate in one celebration the merits of all the Saints, bestow on us, we pray, through the prayers of so many intercessors, an abundance of the reconciliation with you for which we earnestly long. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever.”
The Merton Prayer – Discernment
In reflecting on the lives of the saints, I sometimes feel lost when discerning my journey. This prayer of discernment from Thomas Merton has been helpful to me, and I hope you will find it comforting.
Related Prayers and Guides
- How to Pray With Saints
- Padre Pio – Healing Prayer
- St. Teresa of Ávila
- St. Thérèse of Lisieux Novena
- St. Jude Novena
We hope you found this guide helpful in understanding All Saints’ Day’s origin, meaning, and celebrations! Also, check out some of the most recent community prayer challenges on Hallow – Saints in 7 Days with Padre Pio, Sts. Louis & Zelie Martin, St. Martín de Porres, and Mother Teresa.