CELEBRATION, MEANING AND HISTORY OF ALL SOULS DAY IN THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH - DR. GIL HAAS, ST. AUGUSTINE OF CANTERBURY EPISCOPAL CHURCH
The Christian calendar is highlighted by multiple feast days each honoring an individual saint. All Saints’ Day (November 1) was placed on the Church’s calendar as early as 373 AD to celebrate notable saints who lived a godly life but did not have a feast day assigned to them. In 998 AD, November 2 was designated by the monastic, Odilo of Cluny, as All Souls’ Day to commemorate the souls of all the faithfully departed. In our Book of Common Prayer (p 29) this day is designated “Commemoration of All Faithful Departed” to honor all those Christian individuals who are unknown in the wider fellowship of the church, especially family members and friends. The 1979 Book of Common Prayer is the first American Prayer Book in which this feast is listed on the calendar. The commemoration on this day is of those Christians who were neither martyrs nor confessors - people not especially distinguished by their death or by their way of life. During World War I, Pope Benedict XV allowed priests to celebrate the Eucharist three times on All Souls’ Day. He felt that the “useless slaughter” of the war warranted a special commemoration for all those persons who had lost their lives.
~ Dr. Gil Haas, St. Augustine of Canterbury Episcopal Church