It has long been customary especially in churches which possessed large collections of relics, to keep one general feast in commemoration of all the saints whose memorials are there preserved. An Office and Mass for this purpose will be found in the Roman Missal and Breviary, and though they occur only in the supplement Pro aliquibus locis and are not obligatory upon the Church at large, still this celebration is now kept almost universally. The office is generally assigned to the fourth Sunday in October. In England before the Reformation, as we may learn from a rubric in the Sarum Breviary, the Festum Reliquiarum was celebrated on the Sunday after the feast of the Translation of St. Thomas of Canterbury (7 July), and it was to be kept as a greater double “wherever relics are preserved or where the bodies of dead persons are buried, for although Holy Church and her ministers observe no solemnities in their honour, the glory they enjoy with God is known to Him alone.”
By relics of the Saints we mean all that remains of them after their death — their bones, their ashes, their clothing and other objects used by them. Enemies of the Church have condemned the cult of the relics of the Saints as being borrowed from pagan customs and without apostolic origin. The decision of the Council of Trent suffices to show the falsehood and bad faith of their reasoning. That Council, in effect, decreed quite otherwise, that the bodies of the martyrs and other Saints, who were the living members of Jesus Christ and the temples of the Holy Spirit, must be honored by the faithful, and that through them God grants a great many benefits to the living. Its decision was based on the usage already established in the first century and which has remained constant in the Church, as well as on the teaching of the Fathers and Councils.
The cult of holy relics is therefore not only permitted, but commanded; it is not only a right, but a duty. Let us note well that the cult of holy relics diverges from pagan practices in that it is supernatural. We do not honor what remains of the Saints for any motive derived from nature, but from motives based on the Faith. If one honors the memory and remains of great men worthy of that appellation, it is regarded as justice; but when one honors the memory and remains of the Saints, it is more than justice, it is the virtue of religion. The final object of the cult of the holy relics is God who sanctifies the Saints; it is Jesus Christ, whose members the Saints are. This cult is so legitimate that God Himself sometimes glorifies the relics of His Saints by heavenly perfumes, by other marvelous privileges, by countless miracles. Let us add that the cult of holy relics also has its foundation in the glorious resurrection which is awaiting the bodies of the Saints. God Himself will reassemble these remains at the end of the world and will give them all the brilliance and beauty of which they are capable.
Let us then venerate, with respect, devotion and confidence, these precious relics which once were animated by such great souls, were the instruments of beautiful and holy works and of astonishing virtues, and which will some day be honored by a brilliant and immortal glory. Let us value pilgrimages made to the tombs of the Saints, and celebrate religiously the feast of the holy relics, which appropriately follows closely upon All Saints Day, the feast day of the splendid holy souls who are in heaven.
INTROIT Psalm 33:20-21
Many are the afflictions of the just, and out of these the Lord hath delivered them: the Lord keepeth all their bones; not one of them shall be broken. Psalm. I will bless the Lord at all times: His praise shall be always in my mouth. v. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
Do thou, O Lord, increase our faith in the Resurrection, Thou that workest wonders in the relics of Thy saints: and make us partakers of that immortal glory, a pledge of which we venerate in their ashes. Through the same Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God Forever and ever. R.Amen.
Commemoration of the Octave of All Saints
Almighty and everlasting God, who hast granted to honor in one solemn Feast the merits of all Thy Saints: we beseech Thee, that since so many are praying for us, Thou wouldst pour forth upon us the abundance of Thy mercy, for which we long. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. R. Amen.
EPISTLE Ecclesiasticus 44:10-15
From the Book of Ecclesiasticus. These are men of mercy, whose godly deeds have not failed: good things continue with their seed, their posterity are a holy inheritance, and their seed stood in the covenants: and their children for their sakes remain forever: their seed and their glory shall not be forsaken. Their bodies are buried in peace, and their name liveth unto generation and generation. Let the people show forth their wisdom and the church declare their praise.
GRADUAL/ALLELUIA Ps. 149. 5, 1
The saints shall rejoice in glory: they shall be joyful in their beds. Sing unto the Lord a new song: let His praise be in the Church of the Saints. Allelúia, allelúia. (Ps. 67. 4). And let the just feast, and rejoice before God: and be delighted with gladness. Allelúia.
GOSPEL Luke. 6. 17-23
At that time, Jesus coming down with them stood in a plain place, and the company of His disciples, and a very great multitude of people from all of Judea, and Jerusalem, and the seacoast both of Tyre and Sidon, who were come to hear Him and to be healed of their diseases. And they that were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. And all the multitude sought to touch Him: for virtue went out from Him and healed all. And He, lifting up His eyes on His disciples, said: Blessed are ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled. Blessed are ye that weep now: for you shall laugh. Blessed shall you be when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of Man’s sake. Be glad in that day and rejoice: for behold your reward is great in heaven.
OFFERTORY ANTIPHON Ps. 67. 36
God is wonderful in His saints: the God of Israel is He Who will give power and strength to His people: blessed be God. Allelúia.
We implore Thy clemency, O Lord: that by the interceding merits of Thy saints whose relics we venerate, this sacrifice which we offer may be an expiation of our sins. Through our Lord Jesus Christ Thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God Forever and ever. R.Amen.
Commemoration of the Octave of All Saints
We offer Thee, O Lord, the gifts of our devotion; that they be made pleasing to Thee for the honor of all the just and, by Thy mercy, be profitable to ourselves. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. R. Amen
PREFACE of the Common
It is truly meet and just, and profitable unto salvation, that we should at all times, and in all places, give thanks to thee, O Holy Lord, Father Almighty, eternal God, through Christ, our Lord. Though whom the angels praise thy majesty, the dominions adore it, the powers are in awe. Which the heavens and the hosts of heaven together with the blessed seraphim joyfully do magnify. And do thou command that it be permitted to us join with them in confessing thee, while we say with lowly praise:
COMMUNION ANTIPHON Ps. 32. 1
Rejoice in the Lord, ye just: praise becometh the upright.
Multiply upon us Thy mercy, we beseech Thee, O Lord, through the sacraments which we have received: that even as with a pious devotion we rejoice in the solemnity of Thy saints whose relics we venerate, so also by Thy bountiful goodness we may enjoy their everlasting fellowship. Through the Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God For ever and ever. R. Amen.
Commemoration of the Octave of All Saints
Grant to Thy faithful people, we beseech Thee, O Lord, ever to rejoice in the veneration of all Thy saints and to be defended by their unceasing prayers. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. R. Amen.