All Saints and All Souls

One of the things that I have to be aware of at St Mary’s is that there are always quite a lot of people there who have not come from an Episcopal background. That means that when it comes to festivals, there are folk who don’t know what to expect. (Former Roman Catholics are exceptions. They generally know exactly what we are up to).

This weekend we keep the joint festivals of All Saints and All Souls. All Saints falls on 1 November and All Souls falls the next day. They are both in their way related to Easter and one of the glimpses of resurrection that we receive to spur us on our way through the year.

All Saints comes first and is a day of thanksgiving for, well, all the saints. That means remembering those heroes of faith who have stuck lingered long in the church’s collective memory. A good spiritual exercise at an All Saints service is to try to name those saints whose story has touched you. That might include saints from the Christian calendar, but it might also include your granny or a Sunday-school teacher or someone whom you have known who shone with God’s brightness in a special way. The thing to focus on is those people who have passed on the faith to you. The people who have made sure that you could know about God.

All Souls comes on Monday evening. The colours change from the White and Gold of Allsaintstide to Black and gold for a special service where we remember by name those who have died who have touched our lives. (Again, this might include your granny). We always remember those who have died in the past year whose funerals have taken place from St Mary’s and the congregation is invited to add names to the list. It is one of the most moving parts of the year to remember with thanksgiving all those who have died and to pray for them and for one another whilst we do so. The music that we offer at this service is always the most beautiful that we can manage and this year we are having the Fauré Requiem. (This is a first for the trebles). At the end of the service, the list of names is carried to the High Altar and put under the altar cloths where it will remain until this time next year.

So there you are.

Now, lets start this weekend off with a few saints worth remembering.

Here is my list …

  1. St Columba – I was ordained on 9 June, his Feast Day
  2. St Cuthbert – whose tomb I prayed at when I was trying to work out my vocation
  3. St Aelred – beloved friend of friendship. (Whom I preached about in January)
  4. St Mary – because she is with us as we worship

Now, who are your favourites?


  1. Marion says

    St. Benedict- his rule still makes a lot of sense today.

    St. Aidan – for his example of faith and humility.

  2. St Etheldreda – I prayed in her chapel in Ely Cathedral when I was down for the Bishops’ Advisory Panel and felt complete affirmation, peace and surrender.

  3. Rosemary Hannah says

    St Cuthbert
    St Vey – who lived on Cumbrae surrounded by animals and gave good advice.
    St Gregory of Tours, family patron and historian – need I add more??

  4. More are welcome, Rosemary.

    I’ve prayed in a lovely church in France that had a bit of St Gregory’s jawbone. Made me feel close to Ninan in a way. The mouth that taught Ninian how to pray…

  5. fr dougal says

    Ah, mine would be:

    St Columba (time on Iona pre Coates hall),

    St Ignatius Loyola (prayed in his apartments in the Gesu in Rome)

    John Henry Newman (a great inspiration)

  6. For St Rita and battered wives everywhere and for women.

    For St Catherine of Siena whose head and finger I have seen and adored. For her persistence and for bringing people together.

    For Teresa and Therese, for their utter differences and their similar devotion to the One.

    For Mary for her understanding of troubled sons.

    For Julian for being a wise woman and for knowing that all shall be well.

  7. Zebadee says

    My parents

  8. Gordon Aitken says

    Simeon The Holy Fool – for attempting to strip Christianity back to it’s basics.

    Basil Of Moscow – If even Ivan The Terrible is scared of you then you must be pretty good.

    James The Letter Writer – For creating a simple epistle that transcends time and space to still have full relevance today.

    Mary Magdalene – For all the slurs on her good name.

  9. Gordon Aitken says

    I should also add Oscar Romero for showing us how it’s done.

    Martin Luther King Jnr. – A man whose words still inspire me.

    Dietrich Bonhoeffer – For taking a stand and showing that turning the other cheek doesn’t mean giving up.

  10. Peter of Verona, for reasons I’d have a hard time enumerating.

    I’m associated with the Dominicans, so Dominic and his heirs — Catherine of Siena, Thomas Aquinas, Jacobus de Voragine (I love The Golden Legend), Fra Angelico — and our patronesses, Mary Magdalene and Catherine of Alexandria.

  11. Peter R Mackin says

    Saint John Ogilvie

    His last words were

    “If there be here any hidden Roman Catholics, let them pray for me but the prayers of heretics I will not have”.

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