May the Saints & Feast Days for the month of November inspire you to grow closer to Jesus Christ. The month of November is dedicated to the Souls in Purgatory.

November 1: The Solemnity of All Saints

On this day the Church celebrates all the saints. Those who are canonized or beatified, and the multitude of those who are in heaven that are known only to God. This multitude was shown to St. John the Apostle in Revelation:

“After this I had a vision of a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and tongue. They stood before the throne and before the Lamb, wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands. They cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation comes from our God, who is seated on the throne, and from the Lamb.”” (Rev. 7:9-10)

The feast of All Saints is a day of great hope and inspiration for us. As the Epistle to the Hebrews states “since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let  us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us.” (Heb. 12:1)

A priest was once asked “how many people attended the early morning Mass yesterday”? He responded “There were three old ladies, the janitor, several thousand archangels, a large number of seraphim, and several million of the triumphant saints of God”. Let us keep in mind the great cloud of witnesses that surround us at every Mass.

Many people frequently ask if there is a connection between All Saints Day, All Souls Day, and Halloween. There is no such connection and this article explains this more fully.

November 2: Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed

This day is the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed, also known as All Souls Day, a day set aside to pray for all the departed. All Souls Day is the beginning of praying for the Faithful Departed throughout November. The Catechism reminds us of the purpose and reality of purgatory, “All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven”(CCC 1030).

The need for prayer for the dead has been acknowledged by the Church and is taught in Scripture: “It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from their sins.” (2 Macc. 12: 46). Our intentions are expressed in public and private prayers, and especially in the offering of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for the repose of the departed souls.

“We believe in the communion of all the faithful of Christ, those who are pilgrims on earth, the dead who are being purified, and the blessed in heaven, all together forming one Church; and we believe that in this communion, the merciful love of God and his saints is always attentive to our prayers” – (CCC, 962).

November 10: St. Leo the Great (400-461)

St. Leo reigned as Pope from 440 to 461. He was named a Doctor of the Church In 1754, based on the 100 sermons and 150 letters he wrote which are preserved to this day. He was a staunch defender of the faith and during his pontificate the Church settled a major doctrinal dispute in the Council of Chalcedon (451) which defined that Christ is one divine person with two natures, divine and human.

He is famous for stopping Attila the Hun from sacking and burning Rome. The Pope persuaded Attila to turn back, and as the story goes, when the Hun was asked by his servants why, contrary to custom, he had so meekly yielded to the entreaties of a Roman bishop, he answered that he had been alarmed by a figure dressed like a priest that stood at Leo’s side; this individual was holding a drawn sword and acted as if he would kill him if he advanced farther. As a result, Attila retreated.

“Beyond our grasp, He chose to come within our grasp. Existing before time began, He began to exist at a moment in time.” – Pope St. Leo

November 16: St. Gertrude (1256-1302)

St. Gertrude was a Cistercian nun, who at the age of five was taken to the convent at Rossdorf, Germany. When she was twenty-five years old, Christ began to appear to her and disclose to her the secrets of mystical union. Obeying a His wish, she put into writing the favors of grace bestowed upon her, her most important work is “The Herald of Divine Love”. St. Gertrude was an early devotee of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Book 2 of the Herald of Divine Love describes the veneration of Christ’s heart and the belief that Christ’s heart poured forth a redemptive fountain through the wound in His side. 

St. Gertrude showed great sympathy towards the souls in purgatory and urged prayers for them. One of her prayers for the faithful departed is:

“Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Most Precious Blood of Thy Divine Son, Jesus, in union with the Masses said throughout the world today, for all the Holy Souls in Purgatory, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the universal Church, for those in my own home and in my family.” – St. Gertrude

November 21: The Presentation of Mary

The presentation of Mary in the temple is not recorded in the Bible, but is described in an apocryphal account from the 2nd century writing, the Protoevangelium of James. The account tells us that Anna and Joachim offered Mary to God in the Temple when she was three years old. This was to carry out a promise made to God when Anna was still childless.

Though scholars debate the historical accuracy of the Protoevangelium of James,  the Presentation was also attested to by St. Maximus the Confessor, and the mystics Venerable Maria of Agreda and Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich. The feast of Mary’s Presentation has an important theological purpose. It emphasizes that the holiness conferred on Mary at her Immaculate Conception, continued through her early childhood and beyond.

“Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of His covenant could be seen in the temple… A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.” (Rev 11:19, 12:1)

November 23: St. Clement of Rome

St. Clement was the fourth Pope of the Catholic Church and served from 92 AD to 99 AD. He is believed to have been exiled at the end of his pontificate and since he died while in exile is considered a martyr. He was converted to Christianity by St. Peter and said to have been anointed by him as bishop. While there is a certain degree of uncertainty about his life, one item that is uncontested historically is that he wrote a letter to Corinth to admonish them for internal strife and rebelling against their ordained leaders. What is noteworthy about this letter is the firm belief in apostolic succession and the primacy of the Bishop of Rome. It is with kindness and authority that St. Clemens urges the Corinthians to repent of their strife and humbly obey their anointed presbyters and deacons. The letter was read aloud in church and so well received, that it continued to be read aloud in church for years afterward.

It is clear from St. Clement’s letter that the 1st-century church believed that the apostles received the Gospel from Jesús Christ,  and they in turn, preached the Gospel to others and appointed bishops and deacons to carry on this work after their death. Certain Corinthians appealed to St. Clement to intervene and resolve their internal disputes while the apostle St. John was still alive, which further supports our belief in the primacy of Rome.

“But, if some shall disobey the words which have been spoken by Him through us, let them know that they will involve themselves in no small transgression and danger.” – St. Clement

November 26: Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, formerly referred to as “Christ the King,” was established by Pope Pius XI in 1925 as an antidote to secularism. This is a way of thinking in which a person organizes their life as if God did not exist. The purpose of the feast is to proclaim Christ as Creator, Redeemer, Shepherd, and Judge. As King of the Universe, His kingdom extends to all nations and places, is eternal, and is not of this world.

Just as the universal Church celebrates Christ as King of the Universe, our family domestic church can celebrate this through the Enthronement of the Sacred Heart. Let us continue to honor Christ in the liturgy and our home, as King, Savior, and Friend.

“I saw coming with the clouds of heaven one like a son of man. When He reached the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him, He received dominion, splendor, and kingship; all nations, peoples, and tongues will serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not pass away.” (Dan. 7:13,14)

November 30: St. Andrew the Apostle

St. Andrew was born in the village of Bethsaida on the Sea of Galilee during the early first century. He was a fisherman, a disciple of St. John the Baptist, and the brother of St. Peter. In the Gospel of John, when Jesus walked by one day, John the Baptist stated, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” At this point, St. Andrew and another disciple, made the decision to follow Jesus. Later, St. Andrew introduced his brother St. Peter to Jesus, saying, “We have found the Messiah.” 

Per Christian tradition, St. Andrew went on to preach the Gospel around the shores of the Black Sea and throughout what is now Greece and Turkey. Andrew was martyred by crucifixion in Patras, Greece during the persecution of Nero around 60 AD. He was bound, rather than nailed, to a cross that was in the form of an X (called a saltire or crux decussata). Today this is commonly referred to as “St. Andrew’s Cross”. It is believed Andrew requested to be crucified this way, because he deemed himself “unworthy to be crucified on the same type of cross as Jesus.” St. Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland and their flag is a white saltire on the backdrop of a blue sky.

There is a tradition of praying the St. Andrew Christmas Novena prayer 15 times per day, starting on St. Andrew’s feast day and ending on Christmas. Even praying this once per day, it is a good prayer to help us focus on the real meaning of Christmas and to prepare ourselves spiritually for His coming:

+Hail and blessed be the hour and moment in which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in piercing cold. In that hour vouchsafe, O my God, to hear my prayer and grant my desires, [here mention your request] through the merits of our Savior Jesus Christ, and of His blessed Mother. Amen.

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