Whether or not their names are commemorated in the liturgy, the Church today honors all Saints, those holy souls who during life loved Jesus and strove to imitate Him and to practice His virtues.
This feast dates back to the 7th century, and the occasion of its introduction was the conversion of the ancient Pantheon at Rome into a Christian church. This famous temple, which possibly existed in the time of the Republic, is generally considered to have been built by Marcus Agrippa in his third consulate in the year 27 B.C., but it is not improbable that he merely restored and added to it. Historians do not agree as to the origin of its name, but Pliny tells us that Agrippa dedicated it to Jupiter the Avenger. It was afterward repaired by Septimus Severus and his son Caracalla.
In the beginning of the 7th century, the Emperor Phocas gave the Pantheon to Pope Boniface IV, who converted it into a church and dedicated it to the Blessed Virgin and all the Saints, about the year 608. The feast of this dedication was kept on May 13, and before that event the feast of all the Apostles had been celebrated on the first of the same month.
About the year 731, Pope Gregory III consecrated a chapel in St. Peter’s Church in honor of all the Saints, and since then the feast of All Saints has been celebrated in Rome. Gregory IV, while in France in 837, greatly encouraged the celebration of this feast in that country. The Greeks celebrate the feast of All Saints on the Sunday after Pentecost.
PRAYER: God, You allow to honor all Your Saints in one common festival. Through the prayers of so many intercessors grant us an abundance of Your merciful favors, which we so greatly desire. Amen.