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Feasts of All Saints, All Souls express our belief in the communion of saints

The Catholic observances of All Saints (Wednesday, Nov. 1) and All Souls (Thursday, Nov. 2) launch a month-long commemoration of the dead. Because All Saints is such an important feast, it is a Holy Day of Obligation for Catholics in the Unites States.

Find & contact a parish for Mass times |
See parish events for All Souls

Since the eighth century, the solemnity of All Saints marks a day when we rejoice in the holy men and women of every time and place, canonized or beatified, who are now in heaven. Some were famous; others lived smaller lives going about God's business on earth relatively unnoticed.


What are the origins of All Saints and All Souls Day? Are these linked with paganism and Halloween?

Why does it help to turn to the saints when we pray? 

We are all called to lives of virtue and holiness and the saints are friends and intercessors who can inspire us toward this goal! Saints are people who are aflame with the Holy Spirit; they keep God's fire burning in the Church. Even during their earthly life, the saints prayed ardently, in a way that was contagious. At Mass on All Saints, we praise and thank God for their example, their selflessness, and their holiness. We express our faith that they are now around God’s throne, where they “sing his praise forever.” And we ask them to give us “both strength and good example” so that one day we will meet them. 

The feast of All Souls 

All Souls is observed on Thursday, Nov. 2 this year. The official title for All Souls Day is “The Commemoration of all the Faithful Departed.” This is when we remember people who were more like us – needing further purification to be ready to enter into God’s unconditional love. A traditional way of describing this situation is that they’re “in purgatory” – or in process.
At Mass on All Souls, we pray that through Christ’s loving mercy, God’s “departed servants…may be granted pardon and peace, and be brought to the joy of God’s eternal home. All Souls is an especially rich cultural experience for Hispanic Catholics, who call it "Día de los Muertos" or "The Day of the Dead."
These November traditions express our belief in the communion of saints – of which we are already a part. As one of our prayers at Mass reads "with death, life is changed not ended." Our Masses and prayers this month voice our hope that Christ will eventually bring all of us home, together. (© 2009 Office for Worship, Diocese of Grand Rapids)

Additional resources

Description ​Resource
​Find Mass times at your parish or one near you; contact a parish  Parish locations & Mass times
Suggested Intercessions (diocesan Office for Worship) ​Read more
​All Saints Day, Feast of All Souls and Dia de los Muertos
resources from the Cathedral of Saint Andrew
Visit the cathedral website
​Two Great Feasts: All Saints and All Souls (For your marriage,
Catholic 101)
Read article
​The Making of a Saint (For your marriage) Read more
​About the Solemnity of All Saints (Franciscan Media) ​Read article
​For All Saints Day And the Year Of Faith: ‘Ten Saints
Who Were Great Evangelizers’ (USCCB)
Read more
​Prayers for death and dying (USCCB) Read more
​Vatican guidelines on cremation (CNS, Oct. 2016) Read article
​Holy Days of Obligation or Holy Days of Opportunity?
(Catholic Culture)
Read article

 Things to do:

  • Visit a cemetery and pray for the dead during the Octave of All Saints' Day. This gains a plenary indulgence that can be applied only to the souls in purgatory. On other days, this work gains a partial indulgence.
  • Spend a little time after Mass thanking God for all the unnamed saints, some of whom could be our own relatives.
  • Have a special meal and if you have young children have them dress up like saints and play games.
  • Craft Project for Children - Make Cupcakes for All Saints/ Celebrando Todos los Santos con Pastelitos (Catholic Diocese of Dallas)
  • Pray the Litany of the Saints -- you could make it really special by chanting it ("he who sings prays twice"). (Eternal Word Television Network)

Photo: Communion of Saints, courtesy of Ave Maria Press