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A Miscellany of Saints

Feast of All Saints

Okay, I missed it.  But better late than never. 

Everyone thinks this is the Irish Feis Samhain, which began at sunset on 31 Oct and that the Church co-opted the date.  However, Pope Gregory III (d. 741) moved the  feast "in honor of all the saints in heaven" from 13 May to 1 Nov to correspond to the dedication day of All Saints Chapel in St. Peter’s at Rome.  There was no connection.  Later, in the 840s, Pope Gregory IV declared All Saints to be a universal feast, that is, not restricted to St. Peter's.  The holy day spread to Ireland. The day a feast is the "vigil mass" and so after sunset on 31 Oct became "All Hallows Even" or "Hallowe’en."  It had no more significance than the "Vigil of St. Lawrence" or the "Vigil of John the Baptist" or any of the other vigils on the calendar. 

In 998, St. Odilo, the abbot of the powerful monastery of Cluny in Southern France, added a celebration on Nov. 2. This was a day of prayer for "the souls of all the faithful departed." This feast, called All Souls Day, spread from France to the rest of Europe. 

That took care of Heaven and Purgatory.  The Irish, being the Irish, thought it unfair to leave the souls in Hell out.  So on Hallowe'en they would bang pots and pans to let the souls in Hell know they were not forgotten.  However, the Feast of All Damned never caught on, for fairly obvious theological reasons.  The Irish, however, had another day for partying.

After the Black Death, All Souls Day became more important, and a popular motif was the Danse Macabre (Dance of Death).   It usually showed the devil "leading a daisy chain of people — popes, kings, ladies, knights, monks, peasants, lepers, etc. — into the tomb."  Sometimes the dance was presented on All Souls’ Day itself as a living tableau with people dressed up in the garb of various walks of life.

"But the French dressed up on All Souls, not Hallowe'en; and the Irish, who had Hallowe'en, did not dress up."  During the 1700s the Irish and French Catholics began to bump into one another in British North America and the two traditions mingled.  "The Irish focus on hell gave the French masquerades and even more macabre twist." 
(h/t: John Farrell)

So in honor of All Saints Day, I offer

A Potpourri of Saints: 
(and their countries or peoples)
(Where I inserted an image, it is of the last-named individual above.  I tried for authentic images; but who knows.) 

The Jews: Joseph of Palestine; Pope Zozimus; Romanus the Melodist; Daniel of Padua; Julian of Toledo   

Syria: Habib the Martyr; John of Damascus; Pope John V

The Lebanon: Rafka al Rayes; Sharbel Maklouf

Greece: Irene; Pope Sixtus II; Macrina; Alexander Akimetes

Rome: Agnes; Cecilia; Pope Cornelius

North Africa:
Perpetua and Felicity; Cyprian of Carthage; Augustine of Hippo

Egypt: Anthony the Hermit; Maurice and the soldiers of the Theban Legion; Catherine of Alexandria

The Palestinian Arabs: Moses the Arab; Cosmas and Damian; Mary Baouardy, the Little Sister to Everyone   

Iraq: Maruthas of Maiferkat; Ephraem, the Harp of the Holy Ghost   

Persia: Anastasius Majundat; Abdon and Sennen; Shapur of Bet-Nicator

Ethiopia: Iphegenia of Ethiopia; Moses the Black   

The Yemen: Sheikh Aretas of the Banu Harith and the Martyrs of Najran

Armenia: Isaac the Great; Gomidas Keumerigian

Georgia: Nino Christiana, Apostle-Mother of Georgia; Euthymius the Enlightener; George Mtasmindeli

Italy: Thomas Aquinas, the “Dumb Ox”; Maria Goretti; John Bosco; Pope John XXIII 

Spain: Nathalia and Aurelius; Theresa of Avila; Dominic de Guzmán

The Basques: Ignatius Loyola

Portugal: Anthony of Padua; Isabella   

France: Margaret Mary Alacoque of the Sacred Heart; John Baptist de la Salle; Theresa of Lisieux, the Little Flower   

The Bretons: Alan de Solminihac 

The Belgians: Mary of Oignies   

Ireland:  Brigit; Conleth of Kildare; Colmcille of Iona; etc.

Scotland: David, King of Scots; Margaret of Scotland; John Ogilvie

England: Augustine of Canterbury; Edith of Wilton; Thomas More; Margaret Ward.

Wales: Dafydd of Wales; Cadoc of Llancarfan

Germany: Gertrude of Helfta; Herman the Cripple; Hildegard of Bingen, the Sybil of the Rhine   

Austria and Switzerland: Nicholas von Flue; Jakob Gapp

Scandinavia: Gorman of Schleswig; Hallvard of Oslo; Bridget of Sweden; Thorlac of Iceland  

The Baltics: George Matulaitis of Lithuania

Hungary: King Istvan the Great; Elizabeth of Hungary

The Czechs: Good King Wenceslaus; Agnes of Bohemia; John Nepomucene Neumann

Poland: Hyacinth Ronzki; Stanislaus Szczepanowski; Mother Mary Theresa Ledochowska; Pope John Paul the Great

Albania: Mother Theresa of Calcutta

The Balkans: Sava of Serbia; Mark Korosy of Croatia; Ieremia Stoica of Romania; Bishop Eugene Bossilkov of Bulgaria

All the Russias: Sergius of Radonezh; Euphrosyne of Polotsk; Vladimir of Kiev; Josaphata Hordashevska

Native Americans: Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin of Guadeloupe; Kateri Tekakwitha, the Lily of the Mohawks

Puerto Rico: Carlos Manuel Rodríguez Santiago   

Mexico: Bartholomew Laurel; Miguel Pio   

Guatemala: Peter Betancur

El Salvador: Bishop Oscar Romero

Peru: Rose of Lima; Ana de los Angeles Monteagudo

Ecuador: Mercedes of Jesus; Mariana de Paredes, the Lily of Quito

Brazil: Antonio de Santa Ana Galvao; Paulina

Paraguay: Roque Gonzalez de Santa Cruz   

Chile: Teresa of the Andes

United States: Katherine Drexel; Mother Frances Cabrini; Dorothy Day

Canada: Marguerite D’Youville; Mary Rose Durocher

India: Alphonsa Mattahupadathus; Kuriakose Chavara; Mother Mariam Thresia Chiramel Mankidiyan

The Philippines:  Lorenzo Ruiz

China: Thaddeus Lieu; Agnes Sao Kuy   

Japan: Father Thomas Hioji Rokuzayemon Nishi; Magdalene of Nagasaki 

Korea: Agatha Kim; Paul Chong Hasang

Thailand: Philip Siphong; Lucy Khambong

Viet Nam: Agnes De; Father John Dat

African Diaspora: Benedict the Moor; Martin de Pores

Uganda: Charles Lwanga

The Sudan: 
Mother Josephine Bakhita

The Congo: 
Anuarite Nengapeta

Madagascar: Victoria Rasoamanarivo

+ + +

OK, so some of them are beati, and a couple are "in the pipeline" 
Still, from time to time it is worth recalling what was meant by the term "catholic." 



( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 4th, 2009 11:51 am (UTC)
awesome entry, I love it! Just one question -

Wikipedia says:
The origin of the festival of All Saints as celebrated in the West dates to May 13, 609 or 610, when Pope Boniface IV consecrated the Pantheon at Rome to the Blessed Virgin and all the martyrs; the feast of the dedicatio Sanctae Mariae ad Martyres has been celebrated at Rome ever since. The chosen day, May 13, was a pagan observation of great antiquity, the culmination of three days of the Feast of the Lemures, in which the malevolent and restless spirits of the dead were propitiated. Liturgiologists of the Middle Ages based the idea that this Lemuria festival was the origin of that of All Saints on their identical dates and on the similar theme of "all the dead".


The feast of All Saints, on its current date, is traced to the foundation by Pope Gregory III (731–741) of an oratory in St. Peter's for the relics "of the holy apostles and of all saints, martyrs and confessors, of all the just made perfect who are at rest throughout the world", with the day moved to November 1.

This usually fell within a few weeks of the Celtic holiday of Samhain, which had a theme similar to that of Lemuria, but which was also a harvest festival. The Irish, whose holiday Samhain had been, did not celebrate All Hallows Day on this November 1 date, as extant historical documents attest that the celebration in Ireland took place in the spring: "...the Felire of Oengus and the Martyrology of Tallaght prove that the early medieval churches [in Ireland] celebrated the feast of All Saints on April 20."

the New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia says:
In the persecution of Diocletian the number of martyrs became so great that a separate day could not be assigned to each. But the Church, feeling that every martyr should be venerated, appointed a common day for all. The first trace of this we find in Antioch on the Sunday after Pentecost. We also find mention of a common day in a sermon of St. Ephrem the Syrian (373), and in the 74th homily of St. John Chrysostom (407). At first only martyrs and St. John the Baptist were honoured by a special day. Other saints were added gradually, and increased in number when a regular process of canonization was established; still, as early as 411 there is in the Chaldean Calendar a "Commemoratio Confessorum" for the Friday after Easter. In the West Boniface IV, 13 May, 609, or 610, consecrated the Pantheon in Rome to the Blessed Virgin and all the martyrs, ordering an anniversary. Gregory III (731-741) consecrated a chapel in the Basilica of St. Peter to all the saints and fixed the anniversary for 1 November. A basilica of the Apostles already existed in Rome, and its dedication was annually remembered on 1 May. Gregory IV (827-844) extended the celebration on 1 November to the entire Church. The vigil seems to have been held as early as the feast itself. The octave was added by Sixtus IV (1471-84).

Any insights on the Lemuria festival and the Irish celebrating All Saints on April 20?
Confusing stuff.

"The past is not what it was." -GK Chesterton

Happy feast of St. Charles Borromeo! =)
Nov. 5th, 2009 02:14 am (UTC)
Against lemures
I am wary of Wikipedia. It is an idee fixe among many that all Christian feasts must trace back to some pagan practice. Since pagan festivals took place at just about every time of the year, it is impossible to avoid some correlation.

Correlation is not causation. Something substantive is required beyond a mere coincidence of date or theme.

The fundamentalists began it with their contention that the Roman Church (and by extension, the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental, and Coptic churches) were actually pagan accretions onto a "pure" Christianity which somehow persisted "underground" for 1500 years without making a single mark on history). Atheists, as usual, simply repeat fundamentalist tropes.

But where we see genuine pagan practices - the Romans exchanged gifts during Saturnalia; the Germans decorated trees; etc. - there is never any question about the origin. When Romans got sprinkled, they did not cease to be Romans; when Germans got dunked, they did not cease to be Germans. They continued their normal folk practices, but invested them with new meanings. Witness how in our own day Christian feasts have been co-opted by neo-pagans and by atheists and invested with new meanings.

That a Roman bishop in the 7th century set a local feast in honor of a local church dedication so as to correspond with an obscure pagan festival in far off Ireland beggars the imagination. Why on earth would that correspondence matter to the vast majority of Christians, who at the time lived in Syria, Egypt, Greece, and North Africa?

That he would do so in imitation of an equally obscure Roman festival which by the 7th century was almost certainly long forgotten has only a little more plausibility. The modern tendency to abstract to generalities obscures the factual distinctions.

1. The Roman calendar was chock full of festivals (not all of them festive). It would be impossible to dedicate a church or anything on a day not aligned in some way with a Roman festival.

2. The lemures were specifically hostile spirits, the ghosts of the malevolent dead who had been left unburied; as opposed to the manes, who were the spirits of the good people properly buried with proper rites. What bishop would equate the remembrance of holy saints and martyrs with the appeasement of wicked spirits?

3. The lemuria was a private household rite, not a public festival. The paterfamilias would walk through the house at midnight spitting black beans out of his mouth while averting his eyes, and crying, "With these I redeem me and mine" nine times. After this he would bang brass pots together. This is not really very much like what the Church does on All Saints Day. It is more like what Ghostbusters do. It is an annual "de-ghosting" of a house.

4. The public festival of the manes, the [good] dead, was the dies parentales, which concluded on the Feralia on 21 Feb. The dies parentales was a general holiday, not a private rite. The dead to be propitiated had been duly buried in the necropolis, and were still regarded as members of the familia. [The sacra privata took place on the anniversary of the death, when the living family members visited the grave, had a meal, and cried out the solemn greeting and farewell: Salve, sancte parens.]

Note that individual saints are commemorated on the anniversary of their death with a Eucharistic meal (originally, in the catacombs), and that in Catholic and Orthodox tradition the saints are regarded as still active members of the family, the "communion" of the saints with the living and the dead. The similarity in context is far more substantive.

Had any bishop planned to co-opt a pagan festival for All Saints Day -- and the early church was not really inclined to reinforce the festivals of their persecutors -- it would have been the public feralia of the dies parentales on 21/22 Feb, not the private household exorcisms of the evil lemures. This would have had far more appeal to any pagan Romans that might by chance still be practicing old Republican festivals in the 7th century AD.

Details can be found here: http://tinyurl.com/yatyfsw
Nov. 5th, 2009 09:20 am (UTC)
Re: Against lemures
Wow, thanks very much for that detailed explanation! The Ghostbusters part made me laugh out loud.. Great, I've just removed the Lemure stuff from my note on Catholic Holydays, it was the only festival left where I hadn't found enough facts to wipe out the idea of pagan origins http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=80477377536

and now I'm off to edit Wikipedia.. =p

The part about saints being active members of the family reminds me of this: http://www.firstthings.com/onthesquare/2009/11/into-the-land-of-the-living

Happy feast of Sts. Zachary and Elizabeth!

God bless,
Feb. 26th, 2011 09:04 pm (UTC)
Hey Hey im new
Hello everyone, just come over m-francis.livejournal.com and thought I should post a quick hi!, am liking the atmosphere here. apologise if this was the wrong section to post this.

Feb. 26th, 2011 09:08 pm (UTC)
Re: Hey Hey im new
Welcome. It tends toward the eclectic here.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )


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