The Toussaint is a Catholic holiday celebrated on November, 1st by the Catholic Church, in honor of God and all his saints. The memory of the holy martyrs has been celebrated from the origins of the Church. It is known to everyone, at least through the school holidays associated with it. In fact, and although its name is very clear, All Saints' Day is very frequently amalgamated with Halloween the next day, or even more marginally with the feast ofHalloween from yesterday. A few small reminders are therefore in order on this feast of all saints.
What is a saint?
Before you begin, you should know what a saint is. A saint, among Catholics, is a man or a woman (or an angel, but this is a special situation ...) who during his earthly life behaved in exemplary fashion. Behavior in perfect harmony with the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. By their commitment, by fidelity to their Faith, certain saints died as martyrs. Others have, according to Catholic tradition, worked miracles. But of course martyrdom and / or miracles are not sine qua non conditions for the acquisition of holiness.
Since the thirteenth century, this holiness has been granted by the Pope during a process of beatification, then in canonization. Canonization thus seems to distinguish on earth those who have undoubtedly obtained eternal beatitude and already rub shoulders with God. To perpetuate their memory, the Catholic Church created a martyrologist, and associated with each saint a day of the year on which he was invoked more particularly. Indeed for Catholics, as for Orthodox, the deceased saints form the triumphant Church, which does not cut the link with the militant Church, that of the living. A relationship therefore continues between living and dead Christians, what is customarily called the communion of saints, a kind of solidarity outside of any spatiotemporal framework. According to this principle believers can speak directly to the saints.
The worship of saints
Contrary to what we sometimes hear the believer does not pray to the saint, he only prays to God (in his three forms). The believer is "content" to venerate the saint (to show him his admiration) and to invoke him to intercede with God. Thus, the saint is not a deity, but an intermediary to which the believer can refer to address God. This differentiation was particularly well determined at the Council of Trent (1545 - 1563) in response to Protestants who accused Catholics of worshiping saints. Even today, Protestants do not believe in the communion of saints.
As we have seen, the Catholic Church canonizes those whom it is certain have directly joined God, and assigns them a calendar day. However, the Catholic Church does not claim to have known of all the saints who lived on earth and also joined God. Therefore, She assumes that there are a multitude of saints that she does not know and yet who are just as deserving of worship and invocation.
The feast of All Saints responds to this problem and reminds us of the bond of believers with the saints who preceded them, those who can be found in the calendar, but also all the "forgotten"! The purpose of All Saints' Day is therefore not to forget anyone, but also to remind believers of this solidarity with the saints which must also serve as a model for them in their own life. The saints therefore also have a significant didactic function. Moreover, the choice of the passage of the Gospel of Saint Mark read on that day is not trivial, it is in some ways a notice, in its most synthetic form, to access holiness.
All Saints' Day: a feast for all saints
This feast of all saints is much older than the definition of devotion to saints in the 16th century, and even older than the process of canonization in the 12th century. Indeed, even before the canonization by the Pope, there were more or less decentralized forms of canonization by the various Christian communities. Thus, the feast of All Saints dates back to the fifth century. At this time the date is not yet universally fixed, it is generally celebrated around Easter as is the case in Syria or Rome.
On May 13, 610, Pope Boniface IV consecrated the transformation of the Roman Pantheon into a Christian sanctuary under the name of the Church of Sainte-Marie-et-des-Martyrs: therefore May 13th becomes the official date of All Saints. There is still a debate to know from when the date of November 1 was adopted: some believe that this date was fixed as early as the 8th century by Pope Gregory III during the dedication of a chapel dedicated to all the saints in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome; for others the date is not fixed until 830 when Pope Gregory IV orders the universality of this feast which is therefore common to all of Christendom.
In France, All Saints' Day has been a public holiday since the Concordat of 1801, unlike the Feast of the Dead which takes place the next day. For this reason, believers tend to do on All Saints Day what should traditionally be done on Day of the Dead such as visiting cemeteries with the deceased.
- Christian festivals: History, meaning and traditions, by Edith Momméja. EDB 2012.