7 Quick Takes Faith Formation Feast Days Holy Days of Obligation Ink Slingers Kerri Saints

7 Quick Takes Friday, no. 20: All Saints Facts and Trivia

7_quick_takes_smFor today’s 7 Quick Takes fun and in honor of the feast day we celebrate, I thought I’d bring you a little history and a bit of trivia all about today.


The feast day we celebrate today, All Saints’ Day, can trace its origins back to the 7th century when Pope Boniface IV consecrated the Pantheon in Rome to Our Blessed Mother and all the martyrs. This has been celebrated in Rome ever since on the 13th of May.  This date, May 13th, is the original commemoration of all the martyrs of the Church.


In the 9th century, the Byzantine Emperor Leo VI dedicated a church to “All Saints.” He had originally wished to dedicate it to his wife who had recently passed away and had led a devout life, but was forbidden to do so. In this way, if she was in Heaven, she would be remembered with all the saints whenever the feast was honored.


Eastern churches celebrate the Feast of All Saints on the first Sunday after Pentecost and is known as All Saints’ Sunday.


The Communion of Saints
The Communion of Saints

All Saints’ Day on November 1 as celebrated today was moved to this date by Pope Gregory III (731-741) after he consecrated a chapel in the Basilica of St. Peter to all the saints. He fixed the anniversary for this consecration on November 1. Pope Gregory IV (827-844) expanded this anniversary to the entire Church.


All Saints’ Day is considered a national holiday in several countries, usually those with a strong Catholic heritage. It is also a Holy Day of Obligation in many countries, including the United States (so get thee to Church today!).


Customs vary throughout the world. In many places people visit the graves of loved ones and light candles, clean the graves, leave flowers, and clean and repair the graves. One of the most interesting customs I found was in areas around Lisbon, Portugal where children go out in the morning asking for “Bread for God.” This custom commemorates the earthquake that destroyed the city on November 1, 1755. Children collect bread, cakes, dried fruit, pomegranates, and nuts.


Another interesting piece of trivia, the NFL team the New Orleans Saints takes it’s name from All Saints Day, due in part to the large Catholic population of New Orleans.


“All Saints’ Day” at

“Halloween and All Saints Day” at Catholic Culture

“All Saints’ Day” at the Catholic Encyclopedia, New Advent

“The Catholic Origins of Halloween” at uCatholic (although it is an article about Halloween, it also describes a bit of the history of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day; a very interesting read)

Pão-por-Deus” no Dia de Todos os Santos (All Saints’ Day) a blog post about a woman’s first experience of the central Portugal tradition of children asking for cakes and bread on November 1.

“New Orleans Saints” from Wikipedia

For more Quick Takes, head on over to Jen’s place where you will be treated to many 7 Quick Takes posts on this first day in November. Happy All Saints’ Day!

Charla Feast Days Raising Saints Saints

Preparing for All Saints’ Day

As each of my kids approached mid-fall of their second grade year, an excitement comes over me in anticipation of the Saint project!  My oldest son had a thing for St. Francis.  He loved animals and thought that Francis was the man for him.  We read up on the saint’s life, found a hooded brown robe, tied a rope around his waist and then adding a stuffed wolf, we were all set.  st-francisMy second son decided St. George was who he wanted to portray.  We had some plastic “armor” for him to wear, along with a foam sword, and again, a stuffed animal, a dragon this time, completed the ensemble.  Just this week, my youngest decided to emulate St. Teresa of Avila.  This pleased me greatly, since I have an affinity for St. Teresa.  She cited that her favoritism was due to the saint’s ability to experience viteresa-of-avila-72-websions and in one image, she wears a “cool black crown.”  So three yards of brown, tan, and black fabric later, she has a costume that St. Teresa herself would be proud to wear.

Why do we do this? Our Catholic Schools and Religious Education programs promote our small children to dress up as saints once a year and it is exciting.  The kids process into Mass or a perhaps a program to the tune of “When the Saints Go Marching In”.  There is an excitement felt by all the children and the adults aike.  It is a rite of passage of sorts and for a lot of us, it has become tradition.  The kids do research on their saint and are proud to show off what they have learned.  I remember myself– as my grandmother and mother fashioned a habit  for me to wear– holding fake roses and a crucifix in the style of St. Therese of Lisieux. I was excited and a bit in awe of what I had become even if it was just one single morning.

The saints are the rock stars of the Catholic world.  They are what we should emulate as human beings.  They have accomplished what we all strive to achieve, and that is heaven.  We know all about them: the way they died– think St. Jean de Brebeuf, the way they lived– think Mother Theresa, what they wrote– St. John of the Cross, how they persevered– St. Monica, and their relationships with the Lord.  These are just a few examples of amazing people who were amazing souls.  We talk to them, ask them the favor of putting in a good word for us to the Big Guy, and they never let us down.  The important thing is that they were mostly just human beings who had so much faith, they changed themselves– which we all know is hard to do– and they changed the world– something we quite often give up on george

We have to introduce our children to their role models early enough that they will attempt to be like them and grow their own faith.  These characters can be flawed (St. Paul and St. Augustine), they can be pretty and feminine (St. Rose of Lima), they can be masculine (St. Michael and St. Ignatius), they can be loners (St. Calistus), they can be just like us!  What they all have in common is faith and trust in Almighty God.  They prayed with fervor and had faith enough to move mountains.  Just as we hope for our kids to discover the saints, we can’t forget to “dress up” either.  We can wear the smile of the joyous saints, we can suffer with grace like the martyrs, and we can wear the armor of faith that protects us from the enemy.  As adults, we can get ready for All Saints’ Day and choose a role model, just like our kids do, and we can profess to “be” that saint for the year.

Who will you be when the saints go marching in?

Allison Feast Days Ink Slingers Saints Uncategorized

Happy Lupercalia, Saints, Valentines, Birthday

What connection could possibly exist among a bawdy Roman fertility festival, the deaths of holy saints, a sentimental holiday, and the birthday of a modern child? Plenty.

Lupercalia was celebrated in mid-February from prior to Julius Caesar (It is mentioned in Shakespeare’s historical play of the same name.) to its outlawing, attributed to Pope Gelasius in the fifth century. The ceremony involved naked young men sacrificing goats, and then running a course while waving around the goat skins. Women lined the path’s edges, presenting themselves to be smacked by the skins, hoping for good luck in childbirth, or to be purged from the bad luck of infertility. Afterward, spectators and participants lounged about the cave where Romulus and Remus were rumored to have been nursed by a she-wolf (Lupus), flirting, eating, and hopefully getting those long-for babies coming. In AD 278, during Lupercalia, a priest was beheaded by Claudius the Cruel.


The Saints Valentine were actually several martyred priests of the Roman Empire, of whom are told legendary stories of daring, rebellion, and romance: performing secret weddings, aiding prison excapes, and penning notes from behind bars on heart-shaped leaves, signed, “from your Valentine.” At least one of them was killed on February 14 and it was his feast day that replaced Lupercalia per Pope Gelasius’ decree. The good saints were venerated as part of the liturgical rhythm for eight hundred years. Then a poet gave voice to his feelings on art and love.

Chaucer’s 14th century poem, The Parliament of the Fowls, contains this couplet, “For this was on Saint Valentine’s Day, when every bird cometh there to choose his mate,” for the first time connecting the name of the loving saints with mating birds. From this, our current celebration of love pursued and proclaimed hails. Many special friendships commenced with cards (to the tune of 190 million a year) and dinners; many relationships deepened with diamonds and proposals; many marriages made and anniversaries honored on this day.

Last year’s Valentine’s Day, this married couple, grateful to God for healthy fertility (without bloody goat skins, thankfully), welcomed a new soul to the world, appreciating the prayers of the Valentine saints. Our adorable Adah Marie is one year old today, shamelessly dressed in hearts and flowers! Like women 3000 years ago, I rejoice in the blessing of a child with much jubilation. And introspection.

Even in pagan Rome before the life of Jesus was known, people desired love and children, meaning and ceremony, fun and entertainment, beauty and alleviation of suffering.  These universal desires of the human heart from time immemorial find rest and fulfillment in the Son of God. This is the connection among Lupercalia, martyrs, sentiments, and babies ~TRUE LOVE.  Jesus changed everything.

For God so loved the world that He gave His Only Begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.  (John 3:16)

Grow old along with me; the best is yet to be.  (Robert Browning)

Eighty-six years I have served Him and He has done me no wrong. How can I blaspheme my King and Savior?  (Polycarp, moments before his execution)

Adah Marie, sweet as can be.  (Me, in a little tune I sing to her.)

Advent Christmas Domestic Church Ink Slingers Liturgical Year Misty

20 Great Things about Being Catholic

  1. Who needs Stephen King or Paranormal movies when you have real-life martyrs?

    We’re friends with the REAL Saint Nicholas–the Catholic bishop who lived in the 4th century, whose generosity served as a model for Father Christmas, Pere Noel, Sinter Klaus, and all the other secular knock offs.

  2. With multiple weekend Masses, you can go to church AND still sleep in on Sunday morning.
  3. Our kids don’t need to watch horror movies for thrills and childhood nightmares; they can just read stories about how our martyrs died instead.
  4. We have a saint for every cause and occasion. Sore throat? There’s an app(arition) for that. Work as an elevator operator? There’s an app for that, too.
  5. We get to keep our Christmas decorations up nearly two weeks later than the rest of the world.
  6. We have so many feast days there’s no end to the excuses for a party. (A month ago, my family had a birthday party for St. Augustine, complete with Algerian food.)
  7. We have confession, the cheapest and most effective form of therapy.
  8. We gave the world the Bible (even if half the world uses it against us).
  9. We can believe in evolution AND God.
  10. We get two mothers and one of them is Queen of the Universe.
  11. Women are considered “God’s masterpiece.” (You notice He stopped after creating us.)
  12. The Incorruptibles–what’s not to love about saintly corpses that don’t rot?
  13. Yep, my daughter is a nun and my son-in-law is perfect. No, I mean REALLY perfect.

    We get the world’s only perfect son-in-law when our daughters become nuns.

  14. Babies–they’re a good thing.
  15. Sex–it’s a great thing. (Those looking for the meaning of life, just click on the link.)
  16. There’s no such thing as pointless misery–suffering actually has a purpose.
  17. We’re friends with spiritual heavyweights such as St. Peter, St. Ambrose, and St. Joan of Arc in THIS life, not just the next.
  18. The fruit of the vine is a blessing, not a curse.
  19. Candles, incense, liturgical colors–every new season of the year is a new feast for the senses.
  20. We get to witness (and experience) a miracle at every Mass–a piece of bread and cup of wine becoming God himself. It doesn’t get any better than that, folks.
Ink Slingers Kerri Respect Life Saints

Protectors of Life or Threat??

Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the Wise Men, was in a furious rage, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time which he had ascertained from the Wise Men.(Matthew 2:16)Somewhere in the world today a child has died.  This child could have brought much joy and happiness to the world.  This child could have been a positive force in some one’s life.  This sweet, loving, innocent child could have prevented many other children just like her from being killed in the same way.

But none of those things will happen, because this child is now gone.We don’t know who this child is, but like the Holy Innocents that we remember today, her death is the result of a selfish, meaningless act.

The Holy Innocents that the Church remembers today are those male children that died under Herod’s hand.  Herod killed them in a selfish rage, fearing the newborn King he was told about.  Herod was a king, a king of a people he was supposed to protect.  Instead he killed his own citizens.

We are all familiar with the horrors of abortion.  Abortion is a meaningless act often turned to out of selfishness and fear.  So far in 2011, Expose Planned Parenthood reports that one baby is killed every 96 seconds resulting in a total of 324,774 babies just this year (as of this writing).  That is a staggering number!

(Links to statistics, facts, and other resources listed at the end of this article.)

There is no doubt that the abortions of thousands and thousands of children is a tragedy in our country today.  But I can’t help but think of the innocent children who are aborted out of fear due to a positive prenatal test for Down Syndrome or some other sort of disability.  Down Syndrome, in particular, has been on my mind lately.

With about 90% of children who are prenatally diagnosed with Down Syndrome (DS) being aborted, we are already becoming a country where DS children are few and far between.  If you know someone with DS or have a DS child or family member than you know how loving, sweet, and happy these children and adults can be.  Despite medical issues they might have, despite mental disabilities they may face, these children bring joy to their families and those around them.  DS is not a disease, it is not contagious; many people with DS live healthy lives and life expectancy has increased to around 60 years or so.

And yet, the more I read about it, the more I find that many doctors don’t paint a very nice picture and often recommend abortion to parents at a time when they are feeling vulnerable and fearful of the unknown.  Doctors are supposed to be in the business of protecting life, correct?  Why would they recommend killing one?

As I reflect on this question I think about the Holy Innocents.  Herod was supposed to be a protector as well.  Yet out of fear, he killed many children, known to us now as the Holy Innocents, the first martyrs for Christ.  Today’s doctors are not much different than Herod was in Jesus’ time.

Fortunately there are many groups and individuals advocating for life for these children.  There are studies being done showing the positive side of DS.  And, most importantly, there are children with DS who are living proof that a DS diagnosis is not to be feared.

That child that was killed today may still be able to have a positive impact on someone.  With many prayers and support her mother will hopefully realize what she did, and will one day be able to share her story and her regret with others and thus save the life of another child.  And her child, now in heaven with the other Innocents, can intercede with Our Heavenly Father for those contemplating ending the life of their child.

We pray, dear Lord, for an end to abortion in all circumstances.  We also pray for all the mothers and fathers who must live with the regret of abortion.  And, Lord, we also pray for the misguided doctors, may they come to see the beauty and dignity of all human life and work to preserve it and care for it at all stages. Holy Innocents, please pray for us.

Statistics and Studies
Down Syndrome: Facts, Stats, Concern for Eugenics:
Life with Down Syndrome overwhelmingly happy, says US study: (includes links to study itself)
Parents of Down Syndrome children divorce less: study:
Expose Planned Parenthood, statistics:

Advocacy, Blogs, and Testimonies:
The Diseased Culture of Death:
International Down Syndrome Coalition for Life:
KIDS: Keep Infants with Down Syndrome:
Stop Aborting Down Syndrome Individuals Now:
Cause of our Joy: (includes links to many other blogs and advocacy and support groups)