What is the difference between All Saints and All Souls (or All the Faithful Departed)?

It is believed by many scholars that the commemoration of All Saints on November first originated in Ireland, spread from there to England and then to the continent of Europe. The tradition reached Rome and had been adopted there early in the ninth century, and from there the observation of the festival spread throughout the Holy Roman Empire. It is a day in which the church commemorates all those who, having professed faith in the living Christ in days past, crowned their faith with heroic lives and deaths and made a significant contribution to the Christian Church. All Saints is a principal feast day in the Episcopal Church. It may be celebrated on the Sunday following November first or on the first of November itself. It is one of four days recommended in the Prayer Book for the celebration of Holy Baptism.

All Souls Day, or the day of All the Faithful Departed is celebrated in the Episcopal Church on November second. In the New Testament, the word “saints” is used to describe the entire membership of the Christian community. From very early times, however, the word “saint” came to be applied primarily to persons of heroic and holy lives, whose deeds were recalled with gratitude by later generations. Beginning in the tenth century, it became customary to set aside another day as a sort of extension of All Saints, on which the church remembered the body of the departed faithful who, though no less members of the Body of Christ, are unknown in the wider fellowship of the Church. It was also a day one could remember and celebrate family members and friends who have died. All Souls Day is an optional observance of the Episcopal Church.

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