Everyone knows about Halloween. But All Souls’ Day that follows two days later on the heels of Halloween? Not so much.
You might be thinking, “Oh, yeah. I know that celebration. It’s the Day of the Dead. The sugar skulls, the picnics at the cemetery, the music, the painted faces.” It’s right there on Google today, for cryin’ out loud.
Nope, not the same thing.
Though there are connections in the dates celebrated, All Souls’ Day is primarily a Catholic feast day that’s about praying for the dead. In the Catholic tradition, souls must be in a perfect state, free from all sin, in order to enter heaven. And so most of us must go through a purification process, and it’s the prayers of the faithful here on earth who can help. We pray, and the souls wait in Purgatory in the hope to one day be with God.
When I was in Savannah this summer, I walked all around Bonaventure Cemetery one Saturday afternoon. Though my parents are buried there, and the Beneficent Mr. Hall right next to them, I don’t often spend time to visit other areas of the cemetery. But oh my goodness, it’s a beautiful cemetery!
I like to visit old cemeteries. Every tombstone tells a story, I think, and I like to stop and read those stories. The tombstone in the picture above is one of the oldest graves in the cemetery and I was struck by the inscription: Wait and Hope.
That’s just about the most perfect thought for All Souls’ Day.
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen
If you’d like to read more about what Catholics believe (and the very interesting legend surrounding this feast day) you can go here.
And here’s a great article from National Geographic called Top 10 Things To Know About the Day of the Dead.
And if you want to take a little tour around Bonaventure Cemetery, here’s a great story from CBS News Sunday Morning. It’s not the same as walking among the tombstones dripping with Spanish moss, the salty breezes blowing at you from the bluff, but it’ll do.
Hi Cathy, thanks for this article. The souls in purgatory, however, WILL go to Heaven, so it is not a mere hope, but joyful expectation.
All Souls day is a special time to pray for the souls in purgatory and the faithfully departed. The photos from the cemetery are lovely. I agree every tombstone tells a story. Thanks for this post.
You’re welcome, Donna. It’s strange to think of a cemetery being lovely, but, oh, it surely is!
You’re right. I had no idea what All Souls Day is. Thanks for the explanation. I’ll check out those links, too!
Day of the Dead would make an interesting backdrop for a romance, I think. And you’re just the gal to write it, Lisa!
I love looking at old tombstones. Oh, the stories!
Exactly, Pat! I was driving down a street the other day and in the middle of a neighborhood–I’m not kidding, in the middle of a residential neighborhood–there was an empty lot with a couple of tombstones. Really old stones and I so wanted to get out and read those stories but the lunch crowd was waiting for me. Next time, if I can find it, I WILL stop. Bound to be a good story there!
Cathy–We have some old cemeteries in St. Louis, and there are some gorgeous statues/monuments.
I agree. The Day of the Dead would be a wonderful backdrop for one of Lisa’s romances…