Friday, 31 October 2014


“Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither.” - C. S. Lewis

All Saints’ Day, also known as All Hallows, Solemnity of All Saints, or Feast of All Saints is a solemnity celebrated on 1 November by the Catholic Church and several Protestant denominations, and on the first Sunday after Pentecost in Eastern Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy, in honour of all the saints, known and unknown.

The liturgical celebration begins at Vespers on the evening of 31 October and ends at the close of 1 November. It is thus the day before All Souls’ Day. Hallowmass is another term for the feast, and was used by Shakespeare in this sense. However, a few recent writers have applied this term to the three days from 31 October to 2 November inclusive, as a synonym for the triduum of Hallowtide.

In Catholic theology, the day commemorates all those who have attained the beatific vision in Heaven. It is a national holiday in many historically Catholic countries. In the Catholic Church and many Anglican churches, the next day specifically commemorates the departed faithful who have not yet been purified and reached Heaven. Christians who celebrate All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day do so in the fundamental belief that there is a prayerful spiritual bond between those in heaven (the “Church triumphant”), and the living (the “Church militant”).

Other Christian traditions define, remember and respond to the saints in different ways; for example, in the Methodist Church, the word “saints” refers to all Christians and therefore, on All Saints’ Day, the Church Universal, as well as the deceased members of a local congregation, are honoured and remembered.

The image above is a detail from John August Swanson’s “The Procession”. John August Swanson (born January 11, 1938) is an American visual artist working primarily in the medium of serigraphy, as well as oil, watercolour, acrylic, mixed media, lithography, and etching. Swanson studied with Corita Kent at Immaculate Heart College. He is the recipient of a Doctor of Humane Letters degree honoris causa from California Lutheran University. He has collaborated on a number of books.

The son of a Mexican mother and a Swedish father, Swanson’s art reflects the strong narrative influences of his cultural upbringing. His works frequently depict scenes of community life, as in “Festival of Lights” (2000), “Tales of Hoffman” (2001), and “Psalm 85” (2003). Swanson’s images are optimistic and colourful, with a strongly humanistic feel. Swanson is perhaps best known for his biblical imagery. Combining the flat, stylised look of iconography with the bright palette and strong narrative sense of his background in Latin American folk art, pieces such as “Daniel” (2000), “Good Samaritan” (2002), and “Washing of the Feet” have proven popular among collectors of religious artwork around the world.

Here is Guillaume de Machaut’s “Messe de Notre Dame” sung by the Gilles Binchois Ensemble, under the direction of Dominique Vellard in the Thoronet Abbey.

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