All Souls' Day

In 998 AD St Odilo, Abbot of Cluny, ordered that in all his monasteries November 2nd should be observed as a day to remember the departed and to pray for them.  This observance of All Souls’ Day afterwards spread to the whole of the Western Church. (1)

All Souls’ Day is also known as the Commemoration of the Faithful Departed and it is still observed on November 2nd.  On this day we pray for the souls of all those who are in Purgatory, that intermediate state of spiritual cleansing and healing which prepares them for Heaven and the visible Presence of the all-holy God.

Requiem Masses are offered on All Souls’ Day for the souls of all the faithful departed.  It is called a Requiem because the traditional words of the Introit are, “Rest eternal (Latin Requiem aeternam) grant unto them, O Lord: and let light perpetual shine upon them”.  Members of the congregation can ask to have the names of their departed relatives and friends read out at the Requiem.

Unlike All Saints’ Day, the mood on All Souls’ Day is solemn and this is reflected in the liturgical colour which is purple.  In some churches the colour is black.


1. Attwater, D. (1965) The Penguin Dictionary of the Saints, Harmondsworth: Penguin Books.

Short talks

Short talks, Praying for the dead and Eternal life are available in this section of the Holy Faith website.  The following talks are suitable for children: The Church in Purgatory and The Requiem.