We can pay no greater honor to the Saints than by offering up to God in their name the Blood of Jesus. The efficacy of their past merits and present prayers is greatly increased when offered to God in close association with the merits and prayers of Our Lord. Therefore the Church commemorates on this day all the Saints in Heaven without exception, and thus honors also those who are unknown and who have no public recognition in the liturgy. The custom of keeping holy one day in the year as the festival of all God’s saints, whether commemorated in the Liturgy or not dates back to at least the beginning of the Fifth Century.
In ancient times it was usually called the feast of All Holy Martyrs. The day of its celebration varied; and in the East, even now, All Saints is in most places a movable feast. Pope St. Boniface IV, when dedicating the Roman Pantheon as the Church of Our Blessed Lady and All Holy Martyrs, appointed November I for the chief annual festival in the sacred building.
Pope Gregory III built an oratory at St. Peter’s in honor of all the saints, confessors as well as martyrs who had died in all parts of the world. Pope Gregory IV chose November 1st as the Feast of All Saints. The octave was added by Pope Sixtus IV.
On November 8 there is also the commemoration of the Four Crowned Martyrs.
The old guidebooks to the tombs of the Roman martyrs make mention, in connection with the catacomb of Sts. Peter and Marcellinus on the Via Labicana, of the Four Crowned Martyrs (Quatuor Coronati), at whose grave the pilgrims were wont to worship (De Rossi, Roma sotterranea, I, 178-79). One of these itineraries, the “Epitome libri de locis sanctorum martyrum”, adds the names of the four martyrs (in reality five): “IV Coronati, id est Claudius, Nicostratus, Simpronianus, Castorius, Simplicitus”. These are the names of five martyrs, sculptors in the quarries of Pannonia (now a part of Austria-Hungary, south-west of the Danube), who gave up their lives for their Faith in the reign of Diocletian. The Acts of these martyrs, written by a revenue officer named Porphyrius probably in the fourth century, relates of the five sculptors that, although they raised no objections to executing such profane images as Victoria, Cupid, and the Chariot of the Sun, they refused to make a statue of Æsculapius for a heathen temple. For this they were condemned to death as Christians. They were put into leaden caskets and drowned in the River Save. This happened towards the end of 305. The foregoing account of the martyrdom of the five sculptors of Pannonia is substantially authentic; but later on a legend sprang up at Rome concerning the Quatuor Coronati, according to which four Christian soldiers (cornicularii) suffered martyrdom at Rome during the reign of Diocletian, two years after the death of the five sculptors. Their offence consisted in refusing to offer sacrifice to the image of Æsculapius. The bodies of the martyrs were interred at St. Sebastian and Pope Melchiades at the third milestone on the Via Labicana, in a sandpit where rested the remains of others who had perished for the Faith. Since the names of the four martyred soldiers could not be authentically established, Pope Melchiades commanded that, the date of their death (8 November) being the same as that of the Pannonian sculptors, their anniversary should be celebrated on that day, under the names of Sts. Claudius, Nicostratus, Symphorianus, Castor, and Simplicius. This report has no historic foundation. It is merely a tentative explanation of the name Quatuor Coronati, a name given to a group of really authenticated martyrs who were buried and venerated in the catatomb of Sts. Peter and Marcellinus, the real origin of which, however, is not known. They were classed with the five martyrs of Pannonia in a purely external relationship. Numerous manuscripts on the legend as well as the Roman Martyrology give the names of the Four Crowned Martyrs, supposed to have been revealed at a later date, as Secundus, Severianus, Carpoforus, and Victorius. But these four martyrs were not buried in Rome, but in the catacomb of Albano; their feast was celebrated on 7 August, under which date it is cited in the Roman Calender of Feasts of 354. These martyrs of Albano have no connection with the Roman martyrs described above. Of the four Crowned Martyrs we know only that they suffered death for the Faith and the place where they were buried. They evidently were held in great veneration at Rome, since in the fourth and fifth century a basilica was erected and dedicated in the Caelian Hill, probably in the neighbourhood of spot where tradition located their execution. This became one of the titular churches of Rome, was restored several times and still stands. It is first mentioned among the signatures of a Roman council in 595. Pope Leo IV ordered the relics removed, about 850, from the Via Labicana to the church dedicated to their memory, together with the relics of the five Pannonian martyrs, which had been brought to Rome at some period now unknown. Both group of maryrs are commemorated on 8 November.
INTROIT Apocalypse 5: 12, 1
Let us all rejoice in the Lord, celebrating a feast day in honor of all the Saints, on whose solemnity the angels rejoice, and join in praising the Son of God. Ps 32:1 Exult, you just, in the Lord; praise from the upright if fitting. 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.
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.
For Four Crowned Martyrs
Grant, we beseech You, almighty God, that we who know how courageously Your holy Martyrs have confessed the faith, may experience their goodness as they intercede for us with You. 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 Apocalypse 7: 2-12
Lesson from the Book of The Apocalypse of Blessed John the Apostle. In those days, behold, I, John, saw another Angel ascend-ing from the rising of the sun, having the sign of the living God. And he cried with a loud voice to the four Angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, saying, Hurt not the earth, nor the sea, nor the trees, till we sign the servants of our God in their foreheads. And I heard the number of them that were signed: a hundred and forty-four thousand were signed out of every tribe of the children of Israel. Of the tribe of Juda were twelve thousand signed: of the tribe of Rube twelve thousand signed: of the tribe of Gad twelve thousand signed: of the tribe of Aser twelve thousand signed: of the tribe of Nephthali twelve thousand signed of the tribe of Manasses twelve thousand signed: of the tribe of Simeon twelve thousand signed: of the tribe of Levi twelve thousand signed: of the tribe of lssachar twelve thousand signed: of the tribe of Zabulon twelve thousand signed: of the tribe of Joseph twelve thousand signed: of the tribe of Benjamin twelve thousand signed. After this, I saw a great multitude which no man could number, of all nations, and tribes, and peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and in sight of the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands and they cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God who sitteth upon the throne, and to the Lamb. And all the Angels stood round about the throne, and the ancients, and the four living creatures and they fell down before the throne upon their faces, and adored God, saying, Amen. Benediction, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgivinq, honor, and power, strength to our God for ever and ever. Amen.
GRADUAL/ALLELUIA Psalm 33: 10, 11
Fear the Lord, all ye His Saints: for there is no want to them that fear Him. V. But they that seek the Lord shall not be deprived of any good. Alleluia, alleluia. V. (Matt. 11: 28) Come to Me all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you. Alleluia.
GOSPEL Matthew 5: 1-12
At that time: Jesus seeing the multitudes, went up into a mountain: and when He was sat down, His disciples came unto Him. And opening His mouth, He taught them, saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven. Blessed are the meek, for they shall possess the land. Blessed are they that mourn; for they shall be comforted. Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice: for They shall have their fill. Blessed are the clean of heart; for they shall see God. Blessed are the peace-makers; for they shall be called the children of God. Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice’ sake; for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven. Blessed are ye when they shall revile you and persecute you, and speak ail that is evil against, untruly, for My sake: be glad and rejoice, for your reward is very great in Heaven.”
OFFERTORY ANTIPHON Wisdom 3: 1-3
The souls of the just are in the hand of God, and the torment of malice shall not touch them: in the sight of the unwise they seemed to die, but they are in peace. Alleluia.
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.
For Four Crowned Martyrs
May Your bountiful blessing descend upon us, O Lord, and by the prayers of Your holy Martyrs may it make our gifts acceptable to You, and make them a sacrament of redemption for us. 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 Holy Trinity
It is truly meet and just, right and for our salvation, that we should at all times, and in all places, give thanks unto Thee, O holy Lord, Father almighty, everlasting God; Who, together with Thine only-begotten Son, and the Holy Ghost, art one God, one Lord: not in the oneness of a single Person, but in the Trinity of one substance. For what we believe by Thy revelation of Thy glory, the same do we believe of Thy Son, the same of the Holy Ghost, without difference or separation. So that in confessing the true and everlasting Godhead, distinction in persons, unity in essence, and equality in majesty may be adored. Which the Angels and Archangels, the Cherubim also and Seraphim do praise: who cease not daily to cry out, with one voice saying:
COMMUNION ANTIPHON Matt. 5: 8-10
Blessed are the clean of heart; for they shall see God: Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God: blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice’ sake; for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.
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.
For Four Crowned Martyrs
We who have been fed with heavenly sacraments and joys, humbly pray You, O Lord, that we may enjoy the protection of those in honor of whose victories we rejoice. 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.