Thursday, October 31, 2019

Halloween and Catholicism

May 13, which is the feast of Our Lady, Queen of All Martyrs, was the original All Saints Day. So the origins of All Saints and Halloween had nothing to do with Samhain, as some people seem to think. Later, the Pope changed All Saints from May to November because after the harvest there was more food in Rome to feed the pilgrimsAnd for other reasons, as told in the article. From uCatholic:
The practice of a festival day to honor the whole communion of Saints, rather than that just a single saint, seems to happen for the first time in the Catholic Church with the consecration of the Pantheon as a public place for the Church’s worship. This happened in the year 609 (or 610) on May 13th. The Pantheon had been originally dedicated for the use of Roman religion as a place where all the gods would be honored. Boniface displaced the images of the gods from their shrines and gave the building over to the Saints of the Church, particularly the Martyrs. This was a kind of “in your face” to pagan culture. Boniface was saying that the old gods had been defeated and were defeated by the faith of the Church’s Martyrs. 
Also, May 13th was a day associated in Roman religion with what was called the festival of the Lemurs or ancestral spirits. It is likely that Boniface’s choice of this day to claim the Pantheon for Christian worship was intentional and it was a way of saying that the Martyrs are the great ancestors of all the baptized and it is their memory and witness that is rightly honored on the day that Romans recalled their ancestors. 
How we get from May 13th to November 1st is interesting. The festival of All Saints seems to emerge from the dedication of another Roman church that was consecrated by Pope Gregory III. The church is named St. Peter and all the Saints. It was a subsequent pope, Gregory IV, who extended the annual festival that commemorates this church dedication to the whole Church as All Saints Day. The extension of festivals specific to the Church of Rome is an part and parcel of how the Catholic Faith becomes the underlying cultural matrix from which a new kind of European civilization would emerge. (Read more.)

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