|Devotion to Our Lady||
While All Souls Day (November 2nd) is now paired with All Saints Day (November 1st), which celebrates all of the faithful who are in Heaven, and is associated with the three days of Allhallowtide, including the Vigil of All Saints (All Hallows Evening) on October 31st, and All Saints' Day (All Hallows Day) on November 1st.
It originally was celebrated in the Easter season, around Pentecost Sunday (and still is in the Eastern Catholic Churches).
In the early days of Christianity the names of the departed brethren were entered in the diptychs—an ancient writing tablet consisting of two hinged leaves with waxed inner sides. These would be displayed as a reminder of those souls who passed away into eternity.
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).
By the tenth century, the celebration had been moved to October. 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.
Sometime between 998 and 1030, St. Odilo of Cluny (d. 1048) ordered the commemoration of all the faithful departed to be held annually in the monasteries of his congregation and decreed that it should be celebrated on November 2nd in all of the monasteries of his Benedictine congregation. The legend connected with its foundation is given by Peter Damiani in his Life of St Odilo: a pilgrim returning from the Holy Land was cast by a storm on a desolate island. A hermit living there told him that amid the rocks was a chasm communicating with purgatory, from which perpetually rose the groans of tortured souls. The hermit also claimed he had heard the demons complaining of the efficacy of the prayers of the faithful, and especially the monks of Cluny, in rescuing their victims. Upon returning home, the pilgrim hastened to inform the abbot of Cluny, who then set November 2nd as a day of intercession on the part of his community for all the souls in Purgatory.
Over the next two centuries, other Benedictines and the Carthusians began to celebrate it in their monasteries as well, and soon the commemoration of all the Holy Souls in Purgatory spread to the entire Church.
Of the dioceses, Liège, in Blegium, was the first to adopt it under Bishop Notger (d. 1008).
The commemoration of all the Holy Souls in Purgatory is then found in the martyrology of St. Protadius of Besançon (1053-66). Bishop Otricus (1120-25) introduced it into Milan, for the 15th of October.
The renowned sequence, from the Mass for the Dead, the Dies Ira, was first sung in Italy in the fourteenth century; and in two centuries more it had spread to the entire Church.
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 favor 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.
The importance of All Souls Day was made clear by Pope Benedict XV (1914-22), when he granted all priests the privilege of celebrating three Masses on All Souls Day: one for the faithful departed; one for the priest's intentions; and one for the intentions of the Holy Father. On only a handful of other very important feast days are priests allowed to celebrate more than two Masses.