Wednesday, November 1
All Saints' Day
In the earliest years of the Church, so many martyrs died for their faith, Christians set aside special days to honor them. For example, in 607 Emperor Phocas presented the beautiful Roman Pantheon to the Church. Pope Boniface IV quickly removed the statues of Jupiter and the other Pagan gods and consecrated the Pantheon to all the martyrs who had suffered during the Roman persecution in the first three hundred years after Christ--that great cloud of witnesses to the Christian faith. The venerable old building was renamed "All Saints Chapel" and a festival was set aside to remember the courage and the sacrifice of the faithful. Originally celebrated on May 1, the festival was eventually moved to the first day of November by Pope Gregory IV. It was, in a very real sense, the Church's first commemoration of "thanksgiving."