Roman Catholics Throughout Slovakia Mark All Saints Day

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People lighting candles at a memorial to unborn children in front of Nitra City Cemetery on All Saints Day. (Photo by TASR)

Bratislava, November 1 (TASR) – On November 1, Roman Catholics throughout Slovakia observe All Saints Day – a day on which people gather in churches and cemeteries to pray for relatives who have passed away.

Priests in their sermons point to the saints as setting an example to living Christians by their lives.

The history of the All Saints Day holiday goes back to the beginning of the 7th century, when Pope Boniface IV converted the pagan Pantheon in Rome into a Christian church in the year 610 AD. He consecrated the church in honour of the Virgin Mary and all the saints who had been martyred in defence of the faith and the Catholic Church.

In the 8th century Pope Gregory III declared November 1 to be All Saints Day. November 1 has been celebrated in Slovakia as a public holiday since 1994.

In the 10th and 11th centuries All Souls Day or the Commemoration of all the Faithful Departed was introduced to follow All Saints Day. It’s based on the Catholic doctrine of purgatory, which states that the souls of the faithful who at death have not been cleansed from venial sins or have not fully atoned for mortal sins cannot yet attain the beatific vision but may be helped to do so by prayer and by the sacrifice of the Holy Mass. On November 2, priests usually appeal to people to repent and to strive to avoid sin.