- (Photo: AP Images / Hidajet Delic)
Millions of Christians worldwide observed All Saints Day on Sunday, marking the annual tradition according to their understanding of it.
While some believers used the day to honor those who have died over the past year, others used the day to celebrate all loved ones who have died.
Then, there are those – especially among Catholics – who used the day to honor the memory of believers who have been canonized or designated as saints. Unknown saints are also honored.
“Those who follow Jesus in this life are welcomed where He came before us. So as we visit cemeteries, let us remember that there, in the tombs, are only the mortal remains of our loved ones awaiting the final resurrection,” said Pope Benedict XVI to those gathered Sunday in St. Peter’s Square.
All Saints Day has been observed each year since Pope Boniface IV officially established it in the seventh century to honor all saints at one time, rather than each one strictly on their own date.
In the eight century, Pope Gregory III moved the observance from May 13 to Nov. 1, which continues to be the date that All Saints Day is observed among Western churches. Eastern Orthodox churches mark All Saints Day on the Sunday after Pentecost.
Though most popular among Catholics, All Saints Day is also observed by members of Protestant denominations including Anglicans, Methodists and Baptists.
Following All Saints Day is All Souls Day, which is marked by prayers for the departed.