The Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed (All Souls' Day)

Feast Day November 2

Saints Stories for All Ages

Catholics believe that death can separate people who they love from them for only a while. We are still united with them in the Communion of Saints. On this feast of All Souls, and throughout the entire month of November, we recall our deceased relatives, friends, and all the faithful departed who may yet be waiting for the full joy of heaven in purgatory. We pray for them, remembering that likewise these people being purified have the power to intercede us too.

In Mexico, All Souls Day is celebrated as Dia de los Muertos (the Day of the Dead). Altars are assembled in honor of the departed and decorated with flowers and sugar candy skulls, skeleton toys, candles, photographs, bread, chocolate, and the favorite food and drink of the departed. Families then go to cemeteries and wash the tombstones and decorate them. Modern urban Mexican families usually observe the Day of the Dead with a special family supper featuring the “Bread of the Dead” (pan de muerto). It is good luck to be the one who bites into the plastic toy skeleton hidden by the baker in each rounded loaf.

Activities for All Souls Day:

  • Visit the cemetery. Some cemeteries have special sections for infants, and you might wish to pray especially here.

  • Go to Mass. Find out the schedule of Masses for the day.

  • Pray the following:

Let perpetual light shine upon them,
with your Saints forever, for you are merciful.
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon them,
with your Saints forever, for you are merciful.

from Saints and Feast Days, by Sisters of Notre Dame of Chardon, Ohio

Image credit: The Day of the Dead by William-Adolphe Bouguereau, 1859. Public Domain via Wikimedia..