A daily study of the Network’s diverse faiths
All Saints’ Day (All Hallows, Hallowmas, Solemnity of All Saints, the day after All Hallows’ Eve). On the second of the three days of the Celtic Wiccan, Druid, Pagan and Heathen festival of Samhain (Oiche Shamnhna), this is the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Lutheran, Methodist, Reformed, Philippine Independent Church, Anglican Communion and other Christian denominations’ day to offer thanks for the work and witness of all saints and martyrs known and unknown throughout Christian history, who have arrived in heaven but not all of whom are specially celebrated. Believers attend church services and pray for the dead, trying to avoid carrying out any servile work and children’s events may be held. The Celtic festival was absorbed into Christianity on various different dates and this was eventually declared to be All Saints’ Day, with 31 October known as All Hallows Eve (Halloween, All Saint’s Eve) and 2 November as All Souls’ Day. All Saint’s Day is the Sunday after Pentecost in Eastern Christianity. As Christianity had gained a foothold in Pagan communities, early British church missionaries had held a festival at this time of year to absorb native Pagan practices into Christianity, thereby smoothing the conversion process. Two Pagan festivals of Roman origin had already been combined with Samhain: Feralia, in late October, traditionally commemorated the passing of the dead; and Lemuria honouring Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees, whose symbol was the apple. The Pagan festival in the Southern Hemisphere at this time is Beltane. Image: catholicnewsagency.com.
Rachel (רָחֵל, رَاحِـيْـل, ewe, one with purity) (d1553 BCE). Biblical figure venerated in Judaism, Christianity and Islam as the second and favourite wife of Jacob (Israel) and the mother of Joseph (يُـوْسُـف) and Benjamin (Ben Yamin). Joseph was Jacob’s favourite amongst his twelve sons, the twelve progenitors of the Tribes of Israel. Jacob had served his Pagan uncle Laban in Paddan Aram (Upper Mesopotamia) for seven years to win his younger daughter Rachel but was tricked into marrying Leah, her elder sister. After Joseph’s birth, Jacob decided to go to the land of Canaan (present-day Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Israel, Phoenicia) with Leah, Rachel, and their children. As he thought he would be stopped, he did not inform Laban, who then accused him of stealing his household idols. Rachel had taken the idols without Jacob’s knowledge and Laban pronounced the curse: “With whoever you will find your gods, he will not live.” Thus Rachel died after a difficult labour with her second son, Benjamin. Her tomb is considered holy to Jews, Christians, and Muslims, its site at the Bilal bin Rabah mosque (مسجد بلال بن رباح) located at the northern entrance to Bethlehem being contested. Rachel is not named in the Qur’an (القرآن الكريم) but is honoured in Islam as the wife of Ya‘qub (يَـعْـقُـوْب, Jacob) and mother of Joseph. Image: twitter.com.
Sts Cosmas and Damian (قُزما ودميان, Κοσμάς και Δαμιανός, Cosmas et Damianus) (dc300). Eastern Orthodox, Eastern Catholic and Oriental Orthodox Churches Feast Day for the Unmercenary Physicians (anargyroi, Ανάργυρο), two Third-Century early Christian martyrs, twin Arabian physicians in Aegea, Syria, martyred by beheading with three younger brothers in Cyprrus, Syria for staying true to their faith. Their church in Constantinople became a celebrated place of pilgrimage and in Rome the Library of Peace (Bibliotheca Pacis) became the Basilica of Santi Cosma e Damiano in the Forum of Vespasian. Their martyrdom was written of c1300 in Syriac, Coptic, Georgian, Armenian and Latin. Relics are claimed by St Stephen’s Cathedral, Vienna and San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice. The saints’ 1535 Igarassu, Pernambuco Church is Brazil’s oldest. Venerated in Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Eastern Catholic Churches. Major shrines Convent of the Poor Clares in Madrid, Basilica of Saints Cosmas and Damian in Rome and Bitonto, Bari, Italy. Feast Day 25 September in Canada, 26 September in Roman Catholic Church. Patrons of surgeons, physicians, pharmacists, dentists, protectors of children, barbers, chemists, veterinarians, orphanages, day-care centres and confectioners, and against hernias and the plague. Image: youtube,com.
Prayer We venerate above all others the memory of the glorious ever-virgin Mary, Mother of our God and Lord Jesus Christ, then of blessed Joseph, Your blessed Apostles and Martyrs, Cosmas and Damian and all Your Saints. Grant us that in all things we may be defended by Your protection. Amen