All Saints' Day, the Day of the Dead, and All Souls' Day

Catrinas, such as the above, are among the most popular figures of the Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico (Tomascastelazo).


November 1st is observed by many as All Saints' Day and/or the Day of the Dead. It comes the morning/day after Halloween (see also Is Halloween Holy Time for Christians?) and All Souls' Day is normally the next day.

Are these days biblical holidays? How were they established?

Catholic scholars themselves admit that the day they call "All Saints' Day" was not observed by early Christians, but was a later addition:

ALL SAINTS. As early as the fourth century, the Greeks kept on the first Sunday after Pentecost the feast of all martyrs and saints, and we still possess a sermon of St. Chrysostom de-livered on that day. In the West, the feast was introduced by Pope Boniface the Fourth after he had dedicated, as the Church of the Blessed Virgin and the Martyrs, the Pantheon, which had been made over to him by the Emperor Phocas. The feast of the dedication was kept on the thirteenth of May. About 731 Gregory III. consecrated a chapel in St. Peter's Church in honour of all the saints, from which time All Saints' Day has been kept in Rome, as now, on the first of November. From about the middle of the ninth century, the feast came into general observance throughout the West. (Addis W, Arnold T. Catholic Dictionary, 6th ed. The Catholic Publication Society Co, 1887. Nihil Obstat. EDUARDUS S. KEOGH, CONG. ORAT., Censor Deputatu Imprimatur. HENRICUS EDUARDUS, CARD. ARCHIEP. WESTMONAST. Die 18 Dec., 1883. Imprimatur. John Card. McCloskey, Archbishop of New York. Feb. 14, 1884. Copyright, Lawrence Kehoe, 1884/1887. p20).

All Saints' Day

In the fourth century, neighbouring dioceses began to interchange feasts, to transfer relics, to divide them, and to join in a common feast; as is shown by the invitation of St. Basil of Caesarea (397) to the bishops of the province of Pontus. Frequently groups of martyrs suffered on the same day, which naturally led to a joint commemoration. In the persecution of Diocletian the number of martyrs became so great that a separate day could not be assigned to each. But the Church, feeling that every martyr should be venerated, appointed a common day for all. The first trace of this we find in Antioch on the Sunday after Pentecost. We also find mention of a common day in a sermon of St. Ephrem the Syrian (373), and in the 74th homily of St. John Chrysostom (407). (Mershman, Francis. "All Saints' Day." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 1. Nihil Obstat. March 1, 1907. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1907. 11 Aug. 2013 <>)

ALL SOULS Day. A solemn commemoration of, and prayer for, all the souls in Purgatory, which the Church makes on the second of November. (Ibid, p. 20)

All Saints' Day is a solemn holy day of the Catholic Church celebrated annually on November 1. The day is dedicated to the saints of the Church, that is, all those who have attained heaven. It should not be confused with All Souls' Day, which is observed on November 2, and is dedicated to those who have died and not yet reached heaven.

Although millions, or even billions of people may already be saints, All Saints' Day observances tend to focus on known saints --that is those recognized in the canon of the saints by the Catholic Church.

All Saints' Day is also commemorated by members of the Eastern Orthodox Church as well as some protestant churches, such as Anglican, Lutheran and Anglican churches.

Generally, All Saints' Day is a Catholic Holy Day of Obligation, meaning all Catholics are required to attend Mass on that day, unless they have an excellent excuse, such as serious illness.

Today, All Saints' Day is still a holy day of obligation, but only when it falls on a Sunday. Other countries have different rules according to their national bishop's conferences. The bishops of each conference have the authority to amend the rules surrounding the obligation of the day. (All Saints' Day. CatholicOnline. accessed 10/23/15)

Since teaching that "All Saints' Day" ties in with purgatory, that is also proof that it was not an original holiday as early Christians did not teach the Roman Catholic version of purgatory (for details, see Did the Early Church Teach Purgatory?) and even today, neither do the Eastern Orthodox.

The Pantheon was originally a pagan shrine for multiple gods and was turned into a Catholic shrine for multiple "saints."

Pantheon of Rome: A Symbol of Unity Among Confusion

How All Saints' Day actually became a universal holiday shows another type of pagan connection:

All Saints' Day...It was first celebrated on May 13, A.D. 610, as the Feast of All Holy Martyrs, when the Emperor Phocas gave the ancient Pantheon to Pope Boniface IV as a church (All Saints' Day. World Book, vol 1. Chicago, 1966: 354).

The Romans built the Pantheon as a temple in honor of all their gods. The name means of all the gods...Agrippa first built the famous Pantheon in Rome in 27 B.C. (Pantheon. World Book, vol 15. Chicago, 1966: 111).

Druid...priests worshiped some gods similar to those of the Greeks and Romans, but under different names (Druid. World Book, vol 5. Chicago, 1966: 289).

Of course, some feel that although the Druids worshiped the pagan deities under different names that is wrong, yet they accept the change of the names of the "gods" in the Pantheon to the "Catholic saints" is perfectly acceptable.

Here is a bit more on how and why the Pantheon became acceptable to the Roman Catholics:

In 607 A.D. the Roman Emperor Phocus defeated the Barbarians who were in control of Rome. The Pantheon in Rome, a pagan edifice which had been wrested from the barbarians, was given to pope Boniface IV. Originally, Emperor Hadrian built the Pantheon -- around 100 A.D. He dedicated it to the pagan goddess Cybele and to the other Roman deities. This temple became the central place in Rome where the pagans honored and commemorated their gods. With this splendid edifice now falling into the hands of professing Christians, the question was, What should be done with it?

The pagans had dedicated it to Cybele and all their gods. But the Roman bishop now CONSECRATED IT TO THE VIRGIN MARY AND ALL THE SAINTS of both sexes (see "The Mysteries of All Nations", Grant, p. 120). Thus this pagan building became "holy." No more did the pagan Romans use this edifice to pray for their dead. It was now the professing Christians who employed the Pantheon in praying for their dead.

This re-dedication of the pagan temple to Mary and others occurred in 610 A.D. Now converted into a Christian shrine, an annual festival was instituted to commemorate the event. The day chosen was May 13.

This May 13 commemoration of the dead saints was known by the name of "All Saints Day." It continued to be held in May for over two centuries -- until 834 A.D. In that year the NAME and the DATE WERE CHANGED.

Notice! "The time of celebration was altered to the FIRST OF NOVEMBER, and it was then called ALL HALLOW" -- from where we get the name Hallowe'en, ALL HALLOW merely meaning ALL HOLY, and the "een" is a contraction of evening ("Folklore", James Napier, p. 177).

Thus in 834 A.D. the Church in the Middle Ages began to celebrate Hallowe'en on the FIRST OF NOVEMBER for the first time. This was the very same day the Druids in Britain, the Norsemen in Scandinavia, and the pagan Germans among others were keeping their festival of ALL SOULS EVE, in commemoration of Saman, lord of death, and his demons (Marx, Gerhard O. The Origin of Halloween. Plain Truth Magazine, October 1967).

How Was November 1 Chosen for All Saints' Day?

Now why was November 1, chosen? Notice the following:

"It was a Druidical belief that on the eve of this festival Saman, lord of death, called together the wicked spirits that within the past 12 months had been condemned to inhabit the bodies of animals" ("Enc. Brit.", 11th ed., v. 12, pp. 857-8). Read what this November celebration was like! It was a pagan belief that on one night of the year the souls of the dead return to their original homes, there to be entertained with food. If food and shelter were not provided, these spirits, it was believed, would cast spells and cause havoc towards those failing to fulfill their requests. "It was the night for the universal walking about of all sorts of spirits, fairies, and ghosts, all of whom had liberty on that night" ("Highland Superstitions", Alexander Macgregor, p. 44). Literal sacrifices were offered on this night to the spirits of the dead, when, so the belief went, they visited their earthly haunts and their friends.

There was a reason why November was chosen for that particular event. The Celts and other Northern people considered the beginning of November as their New Year. This was the time when the leaves were falling and a general seasonal decay was taking place everywhere. Thus it was a fitting time, so they reasoned, for the commemoration of the dead. Since the Northern nations at that time began their day in the evening, the eve leading up to November 1st was the beginning of the festival. According to the Roman calendar it was the evening October 31 -- hence, Hallowe'en -- the evening of All Hallows.

To exorcise these ghosts, that is, to free yourself from their supposed evil sway, you would have to set out food and provide shelter for them during the night. If they were satisfied with your offerings, it was believed they would leave you in peace. If not, they were believed to cast an evil spell on you. "In Wales it was firmly believed that on All Hallows Eve the spirit of a departed person was to be seen at midnight on every crossroad and every stile" ("Folklore and Folk-Stories of Wales", Marie Trevelyan, p. 254).

In Cambodia people used to chant: "O all you our ancestors, who are departed, deign to come and eat what we have prepared for you, and to bless your posterity and to make it happy" ("Notice sur le Cambodge", Paris 1875, E. Aymonièr, p. 59).

This sort of Hallowe'en festival was strenuously observed throughout the non-Christian world. Pagans would pray to their false gods to prevent "DEMONS" and "witches" from molesting them. Notice! "The Miatecs of Mexico believed that the souls of the dead came back in the twelfth month of the year, WHICH CORRESPONDED TO OUR NOVEMBER. On this day of All Souls the houses were decked out to welcome the spirits. Jars of food and drink were set on a table in the principal room, and the family went out with the torches to meet the ghosts and invite them to enter. Then, returning to the house they knelt around the table, and with their eyes bent on the ground, prayed the souls to accept the offerings" ("Adonis", Frazer, p. 244).

This, then, is the way the heathen world celebrated their Hallowe'en, their "All Souls Day". Although some aspects of the Hallowe'en festival varied with each country, the overall pattern and purpose remained the same...

When the German Frankish king Charlemagne invaded and conquered parts of Eastern Germany, he compelled the conquered German king, Wittekind, to be baptized and to accept Christianity. Having no choice and seeing his life was at stake, this heathen ruler who knew little or nothing about Christ -- was forced into this "conversion." And with him his entire people. This policy brought complex problems. These pagans, who were usually baptized EN MASSE, were still pagans at heart. Even though they became nominal Christians, they still yearned for many of their heathen practices, which they were expected to discard...

Wittekind's Germans, now professing Christians, and other conquered pagans, had a profound influence on the ecclesiastical affairs of the church in the early 800's A. D. These barbaric and uncultured people brought with them many outright pagan practices and celebrations, Hallowe'en merely being one of many. They were fervent in clinging to their past ceremonies and observed them openly -- yet supposedly converted to Christianity. What was the church to do? Excommunicate them and thus reduce her membership? This she would not do. Was she to force them into discarding their heathen practices and adopt Italian or Roman ones? This, as she had learned in past times, was not possible.

There remained only one other way. Let the recently converted pagans keep certain of their heathen festivals, such as Hallowe'en or All Souls Day -- but label it "Christian." Of course the Germans were asked not to pray to their ancient pagan gods on this day. They must now use this day to commemorate the death of the saints. To make it easy for them, the Roman Church even CHANGED HER DATE of All Saints Day from May 13 to November 1st to satisfy the growing numbers of Germanic adherents. The Church understood the yearnings the Germans and others had for their old ways (Marx, Gerhard O. The Origin of Halloween. Plain Truth Magazine, October 1967).

Since the date was not original, and was even changed, All Saints' Day obviously never was an original apostolic practice.

Furthermore, notice what a Catholic writer wrote, that republished:

Why would a pope put the Catholic celebration of the dead on top of the pagans’ celebrations of the dead? Because the Catholic feasts are in continuity and fulfill the meaning of the pagan ones. (Killian Brian. Halloween, as autumn celebration, reminder God’s name is hallowed. Catholic Online International News. 10/31/06.

It is a fact that many associated with the Church of Rome relish and boast about pagan connections for their faith. It is the Bible that they and all should look to as the source of doctrine (cf. 2 Timothy 3:16).

What About the Day of the Dead?

The Day of the Dead is of pagan origin. The Burke Museum of Natural History notes:

"The Mexican Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) festival combines ancient Mesoamerican and Christian beliefs. The Aztecs believed that the souls of the dead traveled to Mictlan, where they found rest. Several Aztec festivals merged with the Christian All Saints' and All Souls' Days to become the Day of the Dead. (Andrade M. The Day of the Dead. Note the above is no longer at that website, but was in 2012)

El Día de los Muertos begins on October 31, All Hallows' Eve. Meant to be a time to remember the dead as well as to honor the continuity of life, the community celebrations are social and festive. Families clean and decorate their relatives' graves and eat picnic meals in the graveyard. They sing songs and reminisce about the deceased. Los Angelitos ("little angels") return on this day. On November 1, All Saints' Day, adult spirits return, drawn by the ofrendas (altars with offerings), which serve as thresholds between this world and the next...A chair near the altar allows family members to visit with the dead before they depart on November 2nd, when the altar is taken down. The fragile paper decorations, like the transience of flowers, incense, and food, are reminders of the fleeting nature of life. Altars are reminders that the dead are welcomed by the living and continue to have a relationship with us as a natural part of life itself. (Andrade M. The Day of the Dead. viewed 08/06/13)

Regarding the Day of the Dead, Wikipedia reports:

Day of the Dead (Spanish: Día de Muertos) is a Mexican holiday celebrated throughout Mexico and around the world in other cultures. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. It is particularly celebrated in Mexico, where it is a national holiday, and all banks are closed. The celebration takes place on November 1 and 2, in connection with the Catholic holidays of All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day. Traditions connected with the holiday include building private altars honoring the deceased using sugar skulls, marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed and visiting graves with these as gifts. They also leave possessions of the deceased.

Scholars trace the origins of the modern Mexican holiday to indigenous observances dating back hundreds of years and to an Aztec festival dedicated to the goddess Mictecacihuatl. The holiday has spread throughout the world: In Brazil, Dia de Finados is a public holiday that many Brazilians celebrate by visiting cemeteries and churches. In Spain, there are festivals and parades, and, at the end of the day, people gather at cemeteries and pray for their dead loved ones. Similar observances occur elsewhere in Europe, and similarly themed celebrations appear in many Asian and African cultures.

So, the 'Day of the Dead' is clearly pagan.

Notice also the following:

Speaking of the dead, notice also the following:

History of Day of the Dead ~ Día de los Muertos

Day of the Dead is an interesting holiday celebrated in central and southern Mexico during the chilly days of November 1 & 2. Even though this coincides with the Catholic holiday called All Soul's & All Saint’s Day, the indigenous people have combined this with their own ancient beliefs of honoring their deceased loved ones.

They believe that the gates of heaven are opened at midnight on October 31, and the spirits of all deceased children (angelitos) are allowed to reunite with their families for 24 hours. On November 2, the spirits of the adults come down to enjoy the festivities that are prepared for them. accessed 10/29/16

Of course none of those beliefs about deceased children reuniting for 24 hours are true.  But the Church of Rome allows them.

Here is another report about the Day of the Dead/Dia de Los Muertos:

"Dia de Los Muertos has its roots in Aztec tradition and is celebrated like a holiday in Mexico. NoMar is celebrating the event early, the actual holiday is November 1st and 2nd. According to legend, the spirits of the dead meet with the living as heaven’s gates open on October 31.",0,988587.story

In 610 A.D., the Roman Pontiff Boniface IV established the Feast of All Holy Martyrs, on May 13. Later in 835, Pope Gregory IV transferred the celebration to November 1, and he called it "All Saints' Day" in honor of the claimed 'saints' for his faith. What activities are associated with that day? Even today, in some Catholic countries, a popular folk tradition holds that people's departed loved ones return to their former homes once a year, during this day, also known as the "Day of the Dead."

Author Frederick Filby noted:

“Thus the old world perished and a year later a new era commenced in the same month. Both of these facts are indelibly enshrined in the memory of the human race. To many people right round the world November brings the Day of the Dead. In a number of ancient and primitive calendars November also brings a New Year at a time which has neither solstice nor equinox nor astronomical event to justify it” (The Flood Reconsidered, pp. 106–107).

Some seem feel that combining pagan practices are fine, as the following also shows:

The Filipino graveside tradition resembles the Mexican "El Dia de los Muertos," or Day of the Dead, which also coincides with All Saints Day. While the Mexican tradition has migrated to America mainly in the form of home and community altars, one local cemetery last year resurrected the graveyard tradition as it has been celebrated in Mexico for centuries.

Last year, Calvary Catholic Cemetery in East San Jose and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Silicon Valley invited families to decorate the graves of loved ones with candy skulls, photographs, ribbons and favorite food items of the deceased.

More than 500 people attended last year's inaugural event, according to Calvary spokeswoman Nicole Lecheler. This year's celebration on Oct. 29 will include Aztec dancers, skull-decorating workshops, food booths and Day of the Dead altar displays by artists, students and local community groups. (Rodriguez J. All Saints Day comes to Silicon Valley -- Filipino style. San Jose Mercury News, November 28, 2011. viewed 08/06/13)

Again, these are not biblical practices. And having Aztec skull dancers should be an obvious clue to any who does not believe that they should compromise the faith of the Bible with paganism.

The dead, of course, will be resurrected, and that is the day that the dead will be revived--and modified Aztec practices will not change that.

As we see more open ecumenism, it is no surprise to see Protestants embracing Roman and Eastern Orthodox Catholic holidays. They already do Easter and Christmas, which they most certainly did not get from the Bible, but from Rome.

Here is information from two Protestants promoting All Saints' Day:

Why Protestants Should Celebrate All Saints

I find myself reflecting again on All Saints’ Day, a church holiday I started observing only last year. I also find myself wondering why some in the Reformed tradition are apparently trying to redeem October 31st by celebrating Reformation Day instead of All Hallows Eve. The festivity looks much the same—there are costumes, treats, and games (including Pin the 95 Theses on the Wittenburg Door at at least one congregation’s festivities)—but what is being celebrated is different. Perhaps we are recoiling from the ghoulishness of Halloween and are trying to redeem what many perceive as a celebration of evil. But perhaps we, in typical Protestant fashion, are recoiling unnecessarily from a Catholic holiday.

I don’t deny that for the Protestant, the nailing of the 95 Theses to the church doors is something to remember and celebrate, but isn’t it of greater significance to celebrate the souls of our brothers and sisters who have passed into victory? They have gone on ahead of us—through temptations, doubts, despair, persecution, abandonement, rejection, loss, torture, and death—and by the Holy Spirit’s indwelling, the Lord Jesus’s intercession, and God the Father’s eternal proclamation, they have entered into rest, joy, sight, life, and peace. In celebrating All Saint’s Day, we thank God for the work he did in the martyrs of old and in the lives of believing parents, pastors, and friends. (Why Protestants Should Celebrate All Saints. October 25, 2010. accessed 10/23/15)

The communion of saints is a beautiful concept, one that Protestants need to recover. Here’s why.

All Saints is a day in honor of all people, known and unknown, who have reached heaven. It is a day to remember your sainted grandparents, who have gone to their eternal reward, along with the Apostles, Reformers, and martyrs who have borne witness to the true faith, some at the cost of their lives, and “all saints” in between. ...

All Saints Day is our souvenir of the church universal, a reminder that we are not alone. (Wilson LW, pastor. What Every Protestant Should Know about All Saints Day November 1, 2012. accessed 10/23/15)

All Saints' Day is a souvenir of paganism, and it is sad that more and more Protestants are embracing it. The Bible warns about Mystery Babylon the Great, the mother of abominations (Revelation 17:5) and Protestants who understand their history realize that they consider the Church of Rome as their ancestor.

It may be important to realize that neither of those articles cited nor quoted one scripture. So much for the claim of sola Scriptura, which Protestants claim, but do not practice (see also Hope of Salvation: How the Continuing Church of God differ from most Protestants)--neither did Martin Luther (for details, see Sola Scriptura or Prima Luther? What Did Martin Luther Really Believe About the Bible?). As far as saints supposedly now being in heaven, that is a myth and was not a belief of early Christians as even some Protestant scholars admit that it did not come from the Bible (see Did Early Christians Teach They Were Going to Heaven?).

All Souls Day

There a festival, normally on November 2, "All Souls' Day."

Here is what The Catholic Encyclopedia reports about it and a related practice:

All Soul's Day

The commemoration of all the faithful departed is celebrated by the Church on 2 November, or, if this be a Sunday or a solemnity, on 3 November. The Office of the Dead must be recited by the clergy and all the Masses are to be of Requiem, except one of the current feast, where this is of obligation.

The theological basis for the feast is the doctrine that the souls which, on departing from the body, are not perfectly cleansed from venial sins, or have not fully atoned for past transgressions, are debarred from the Beatific Vision, and that the faithful on earth can help them by prayers, almsdeeds and especially by the sacrifice of the Mass. (See PURGATORY.)

In the early days of Christianity the names of the departed brethren were entered in the diptychs {religious stylus}. Later, in the sixth century, it was customary in Benedictine monasteries to hold a commemoration of the deceased members at Whitsuntide. In Spain there was such a day on Saturday before Sexagesima or before Pentecost, at the time of St. Isidore (d. 636). In Germany there existed (according to the testimony of Widukind, Abbot of Corvey, c. 980) a time-honoured ceremony of praying to the dead on 1 October. This was accepted and sanctified by the Church. St. Odilo of Cluny (d. 1048) ordered the commemoration of all the faithful departed to be held annually in the monasteries of his congregation. Thence it spread among the other congregations of the Benedictines and among the Carthusians.

Of the dioceses, Liège was the first to adopt it under Bishop Notger (d. 1008). It is then found in the martyrology of St. Protadius of Besançon (1053-66). Bishop Otricus (1120-25) introduced it into Milan for the 15 October. In Spain, Portugal, and Latin America, priests on this day say three Masses. A similar concession for the entire world was asked of Pope Leo XIII. He would not grant the favour but ordered a special Requiem on Sunday, 30 September, 1888.

In the Greek Rite this commemoration is held on the eve of Sexagesima Sunday, or on the eve of Pentecost. The Armenians celebrate the passover of the dead on the day after Easter. (Mershman, Francis. "All Souls' Day." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 1. Nihil Obstat. March 1, 1907. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1907. 6 Aug. 2013 <>)

A diptych is a sort of notebook...The liturgical use of diptychs offers considerable interest. In the early Christian ages it was customary to write on diptychs the names of those, living or dead, who were considered as members of the Church a signal evidence of the doctrine of the Communion of Saints. Hence the terms "diptychs of the living" and "diptychs of the dead." Such liturgical diptychs varied in shape and dimension. Their use (sacrae tabulae, matriculae, libri vivorum et mortuorum) is attested in the writings of St. Cyprian (third century) and by the history of St. John Chrysostom (fourth century), nor did they disappear from the churches until the twelfth century in the West and the fourteenth century in the East. (Maere, René. "Diptych." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 5. Nihil Obstat. May 1, 1909. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1909. 6 Aug. 2013 <>)

So, from the above we see that All Soul's Day is not part of original Christianity and the date has varied. The Roman Catholic practices to it are related to its purgatory doctrine, which is something that did not get developed until many centuries after Jesus--neither purgatory nor All Soul's Day were endorsed by the original Church of God (see Did the Early Church Teach Purgatory?). And those in the Continuing Church of God do not endorse it to this day.

The "festivals of the dead" turn people away from God's plan of salvation as laid forth by His Holy Days. And these death festivals encourage people to commune with, appease, serve and even worship the dead.

While many Catholics prefer the term 'venerate' to worship, the reality is that they are worshipping the dead. Notice the following, which admits that:


Saint Peter’s ancient tomb ...

Still nothing can be said about the origin of the relics or their authenticity, while those worshiped in St. Peter, in the place where the tomb of the Prince of the Apostles has been identified with certainty, are compatible with the bodily remains of a man who lived in the first century AD. New examinations and maybe a comparison between the different relics attributed to Peter within the city of Rome are scheduled, as the mystery continues.

Notice what the New Jerusalem Bible (a Catholic-approved translation into English) and the NKJV (a Protestant translation) shows:

10 ... God alone you must worship. (NJB)

10 ... Worship God! (Revelation 19:10, NKJV)

We are to worship God, not dead people considered to be saints.

Should YOU Pray to Dead 'Saints'?

Pope Francis has urged his followers to pray to the dead for intercession:

June 21, 2017

Here is the Vatican-provided English-language summary of the Pope’s address at the General Audience this morning:



Dear Brothers and Sisters: In our continuing catechesis on Christian hope, we now look to the saints, to “those who have gone before us marked with the sign of faith”. The Letter to the Hebrews speaks of the saints as “a great cloud of witnesses” who support us on our pilgrim way through this present life. In the sacraments of baptism, marriage and ordination, we pray the Litany of the Saints to implore their intercession and help in the particular vocation we have received. The lives of the saints remind us that the Christian ideal is not unattainable. Despite our human weakness, we can always count on God’s grace and the prayers of the saints to sustain us in faith and in hope for the transfiguration of this world and the fulfilment of Christ’s promises in the next.

Did early Christians believe that they should pray to the dead for intercession for the lives, salvation, or their vocations?


Here is some of what The Catholic Encyclopedia reports about this:

The Communion of Saints

(communo sanctorum, a fellowship of, or with, the saints).

The doctrine expressed in the second clause of the ninth article in the received text of the Apostles’ Creed: “I believe . . . the Holy Catholic Church, the Communion of Saints”. This, probably the latest, addition to the old Roman Symbol is found in:

The communion of saints is the spiritual solidarity which binds together the faithful on earth, the souls in purgatory, and the saints in heaven in the organic unity of the same mystical body under Christ its head, and in a constant interchange of supernatural offices. The participants in that solidarity are called saints by reason of their destination and of their partaking of the fruits of the Redemption (1 Corinthians 1:2 — Greek Text). The damned are thus excluded from the communion of saints. The living, even if they do not belong to the body of the true Church, share in it according to the measure of their union with Christ and with the soul of the Church. St. Thomas teaches (III:8:4) that the angels, though not redeemed, enter the communion of saints because they come under Christ’s power and receive of His gratia capitis. The solidarity itself implies a variety of inter-relations: within the Church Militant, not only the participation in the same faith, sacraments, and government, but also a mutual exchange of examples, prayers, merits, and satisfactions; between the Church on earth on the one hand, and purgatory and heaven on the other, suffrages, invocation, intercession, veneration. These connotations belong here only in so far as they integrate the transcendent idea of spiritual solidarity between all the children of God. Thus understood, the communion of saints, though formally defined only in its particular bearings (Council of Trent, Sess. XXV, decrees on purgatory; on the invocation, veneration, and relics of saints and of sacred images; on indulgences), is, nevertheless, dogma commonly taught and accepted in the Church. …

But the complete presentation of the dogma comes from the later Fathers. After the statements of Tertullian, speaking of “common hope, fear, joy, sorrow, and suffering” (On Penance 9-10); of St. Cyprian, explicitly setting forth the communion of merits (De lapsis 17); of St. Hilary, giving the Eucharistic Communion as a means and symbol of the communion of saints (in Psalm 64:14), we come to the teaching of Ambrose and St. Augustine. (Sollier, Joseph. “The Communion of Saints.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 4. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1908)

So, from the above we see that the late second century writer Tertullian may have hinted about it, but that the earliest clear reference comes from Cyprian (who was a Greco-Roman bishop of Carthage in the mid-3rd century). Augustine promoted it.

Thus, this ‘dogma’ was not an original Christian practice.

What about praying for intercession?

Notice what even a Roman Catholic approved translation of the Bible, the Douay-Rheims, teaches:

5 For there is one God, and one mediator of God and men, the man Christ Jesus: (1 Timothy 2:5, DRB)

34 Who is he that shall condemn? Christ Jesus that died, yea that is risen also again; who is at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. (Romans 8:34, DRB)

The only mediator in the Christian religion is supposed to be Jesus the Christ.

Notice something from the New Jerusalem Bible (another Roman Catholic approved translation):

10 It was Yahweh’s good pleasure to crush him with pain; if he gives his life as a sin offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his life, and through him Yahweh’s good pleasure will be done.

11 After the ordeal he has endured, he will see the light and be content. By his knowledge, the upright one, my servant will justify many by taking their guilt on himself.

12 Hence I shall give him a portion with the many, and he will share the booty with the mighty, for having exposed himself to death and for being counted as one of the rebellious, whereas he was bearing the sin of many and interceding for the rebellious. (Isaiah 53:10-12, NJB).

25 It follows, then, that his power to save those who come to God through him is absolute, since he lives for ever to intercede for them.

26 Such is the high priest that met our need, holy, innocent and uncontaminated, set apart from sinners, and raised up above the heavens;

27 he has no need to offer sacrifices every day, as the high priests do, first for their own sins and only then for those of the people; this he did once and for all by offering himself. (Hebrews 7:25-27, NJB)

Both the Old and New Testaments demonstrate that Jesus is the one who intercedes. Not that dead Christians can intercede in the lives of living Christians.

Notice both a Protestant and Catholic translation from the Bible:

10 Let no one be found among you who sacrifices their son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, 11 or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. 12 Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord; because of these same detestable practices the Lord your God will drive out those nations before you. (Deuteronomy 18:10-12, NIV)

10 Neither let there be found among you any one that shall expiate his son or daughter, making them to pass through the fire: or that consulteth soothsayers, or observeth dreams and omens, neither let there be any wizard, 11 Nor charmer, nor any one that consulteth pythonic spirits, or fortune tellers, or that seeketh the truth from the dead. 12 For the Lord abhorreth all these things, and for these abominations he will destroy them at thy coming. (Deuteronomy 18:10-12, DRB)

Those who believe the Bible do not consult with the dead.

Pope Francis has implored his followers to also pray to dead saints related to their vocations.

When this practice entered the Greco-Roman churches can be debated, but there can be no debate that:

Related to that last point, notice the following:

And since the Bible lists Christ as the Only intercessor and the Only Mediator between God and mankind, many feel that praying to or through the saints, is a form of sacrilege or apostasy. Upon researching into the saints and their feast days,and their particular occupational expertise, one finds that these “patron” saints are the leftover residue of pagan gods and goddesses around the world. Some of them have become christian saints without even having their names changed.

Good examples of this is the trinity goddess of Ireland, Brigid, who later on became Saint Brigid when Ireland was converted to Christianity. The god of wine, Bacchus, was absorbed and changed to Saint Bacchus. The god, Dionysius was changed to St. Dionysius or St. Denis, etc.

“Christian saints began as Pagan gods and goddesses that they were based upon.” – Pagan Saints Proto-Indo-European Religion

“Many Greek goddesses became Christian saints but if they were powerful in Greek pagan religion then they were either reduced to rape victims or repentant prostitutes or they had to change their gender and become male warrior saints.” – Pagan Saints Proto-Indo-European Religion

“The countless host of divinities – both gods and goddesses they worshipped and propitiated as vice-gerents of the supreme power.These possessed a legitimate place in the divine hierarchy of the pagans.The transition from this to angel-worship and saint-worship was obviously easy.” – E. Belfort Bax The Decay of Pagan Thought (January 1890)

“Since converts from paganism were reluctant to part with their ‘gods’- unless they could find some satisfactory counterpart in Christianity – the gods and goddesses were renamed and called “saints”. -‘Babylon Mystery Religion’by Ralph Edward Woodrow

“Demeter is a goddess of many festivals in late October. She became St. Demetrios, a masculine warrior saint, whose feast date is 10/26.” – Pagan Saints Proto-Indo-European Religion

“Aphrodite became St. Aphrodite, of which there are several, all with saints’ tales that tell how she became
a “repentant LovePeddler.” – Pagan Saints Proto-Indo-European Religion

“The Greek goddess Nike was picked up as Saint Nicholas, who was extremely popular wherever shipping was important. He is the ‘patron saint’ of Russian, Holland and Germany, all on the north sea coast.” – Pagan Saints Proto-Indo-European Religion

“Roman gods who became Catholic saints.Many Catholic Saints are “votive saints”, that is, their names were copied off votive offerings for Pagan Gods, especially altars and statues which were still standing
in Rome in the fourth century CE.” – Pagan Saints Proto-Indo-European Religion

“The Roman god Mars was originally a god who guarded wheat fields. He became St. Martin (esp. St. Martin-in-the-fields). Although March is the month associated with Mars (it was the beginning of the military campaigning season in Roman times), the major festival for him in Christian times now usually falls in February, called Mardi Gras “Great Mars.” – Pagan Saints Proto-Indo-European Religion  …

“The Roman god ‘Quirinus’ became St. Cyrinus, of which there are various “equestrian warrior saints” such as St. Cyr in France, and St. Quirina, mother of St. Lawrence. The element quir- means (or was understood to mean) ‘horse.’ These saints were very popular and widely worshiped in the Middle-Ages, in France, Holland and also eastern Christian countries.” – Pagan Saints Proto-Indo-European Religion

“The Roman gods known as the Lares became St. Lawrence, esp. St. Lawrence beyond-the-wall. The Lares were field gods who protected the grain growing in the fields. In Italian, he became St. Lorenzo beyond the Walls, meaning outside of the walls of the city, for which there is still a church in Rome, with many “daughter” churches which developed from it.” – Pagan Saints Proto-Indo-European Religion

“The Roman goddess Venus became St. Venera. She had a major church in Rome in early Christian times, but that didn’t last long.” – Pagan Saints Proto-Indo-European Religion

There are more (like the similarities between aspects of 'Mary' and the goddess Diana), but the above should give any who claim to believe the Bible, and not paganism, pause to consider that what Pope Francis is advocating is not Christian.

The same can be said of many of the holidays and festivals that his church (along with the other Greco-Roman-Protestant churches) observes.

Jesus is the one mediator. Pray to Him, not dead people claimed to be saints. For more information about prayer, check out our free online booklet: Prayer: What Does the Bible Teach?

The Bible Lists God Holy Days and Warns About Pagan Practices

In Leviticus chapter 23, it lists:

"The feasts of the LORD, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, these are My feasts" (vs.2).

Neither All Saints' Day, the Day of the Dead, or All Souls' Day is listed as one of them. None are biblically enjoined feasts day for Christians (there is not any hint of either in the Bible; they may even be warned against in Deuteronomy 4:15-24). Actually the Bible warns against worshipping God the way the pagans, etc. did (Leviticus 18:3; Deuteronomy 12:31, Jeremiah 10:2-3).

And it specifically warns against creating images such as those used in the Day of the Dead:

15 Keep therefore your souls carefully. You saw not any similitude in the day that the Lord God spoke to you in Horeb from the midst of the fire: 16 Lest perhaps being deceived you might make you a graven similitude, or image of male or female (Deuteronomy 4:15-16, Douay OT).

Note: I intentionally used the Douay Old Testament translation above as it is an official Catholic-accepted translation to point out that Catholics are violating their own Bible when they are involved with images.

The Bible repeatedly warns against the practices of witches (Exodus 22:18; Deuteronomy 18:10, Galatians 5:20) and dealing with ghosts/etc. (Deuteronomy 18:11, I Chronicles 10:13).

Christians who wish to remain faithful to the original apostolic faith will not observe All Saints' Day, the Day of the Dead, or All Souls' Day. (Nor Halloween, see Is Halloween Holy Time for Christians? )

COGwriter 2013 2015 2016 2017 0904

Back to home page