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The holidays are approaching, and right at the beginning of the season, we pause, breathe, and observe All Saints Day. For Catholics and Protestants alike, it’s a time to embrace the connection between those in heaven and those on earth, the “communion of saints” referenced in the Apostles’ Creed. But how much do you really know about All Saints Day?

All Saints Day was originally established on November 1st by Pope Gregory III in the mid-eighth century. Before that, it was observed in May by the Eastern Churches, as a way to honor the martyrs killed for their faith, in conjunction with the Easter season. When he consecrated a chapel to all the martyrs in Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome, Pope Gregory III ordered the Feast of All Saints to be celebrated annually on November 1st. Later, Pope Gregory IV extended the feast beyond the diocese of Rome, to the entire Church.

All Saints Day is followed by All Souls Day, which takes place on November 2nd, but the two are different feast days. First, all Saints Day is meant to honor every saint, including those officially known and honored on the Church calendar as well as saints known only to God. All Souls Day, on the other hand, commemorates the faithful departed who are in Purgatory, so that we may apply our efforts to their release from Purgatory, through prayer, giving, and the Mass.

One significant difference between the two holidays is that All Saints Day is a holy day of obligation, one of only six observed in the United States, which means that typically, Catholics are required to attend Mass. This requirement is waived, however, on years in which All Saints Day falls on a Saturday or Monday. Many Catholics choose to go to Mass even on years in which it’s not required, and people observe the holiday in many other ways as well. People might participate in an All Saints Day party, or teach their children about the saints, perhaps helping them dress in costumes, or reading books and watching videos about the saints. Often, people honor the saints by visiting shut-ins or tending to the graves of their loved ones, bringing flowers and lighting candles.

The Catholic Cemeteries of the Diocese of San Jose is proud to be a part of the Catholic Community in San Jose, California. Committed to providing a sacred place where families can remember loved ones in a peaceful and hope-filled setting, we welcome you and your family to visit our properties and experience the peace of these prayerful places. If you have questions, we’re happy to answer them. We have three locations: Calvary Catholic Cemetery in San Jose, Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Los Altos, and St. John the Baptist Cemetery in Milpitas. If you’d like to know more about our properties, or you need to know where to send flowers, you can contact us through our website, or call Calvary at 833-428-0379, Gate of Heaven at 833-304-0763, or St. John the Baptist at 833-428-0379.


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