All Saints

Nov. 1, holy day of obligation, solemnity. Commemorates all the blessed in heaven, and is intended particularly to honor the blessed who have no special feasts. The background of the feast dates to the fourth century when groups of martyrs, and later other saints, were honored on a common day in various places. In 609 or 610, the Pantheon, a pagan temple at Rome, was consecrated as a Christian church for the honor of Our Lady and the martyrs (later all saints). In 835, Gregory IV fixed Nov. 1 as the date of observance.

All Souls

Commemoration of the Faithful Departed, Nov. 2. The dead were prayed for from the earliest days of Christianity. By the sixth century it was customary in Benedictine monasteries to hold a commemoration of deceased members of the order at Pentecost. A common commemoration of all the faithful departed on the day after All Saints was instituted in 998 by St. Odilo, of the Abbey of Cluny, and an observance of this kind was accepted in Rome in the 14th century.

St. Martin de Porres

Dominican mystic and friend of St. Rose of Lima. He was born in Lima, Peru, the illegitimate son of a Spanish knight, John de Porres, and a freed Panamanian slave named Anna. In 1594, Martin became a Dominican lay brother in Lima and served in various menial offices. Outside of the monastery he became known for his care of the poor and the sick. Martin founded an orphanage and ministered to African slaves brought to Lima. He was aided by St. Rose of Lima, who respected his penances and labors. Martin experienced many mystical gifts, including bilocation and aerial flights. When he was dying in Rosary Convent on November 3, the viceroy, the count of Chichón, knelt by his bed, seeking Martin’s blessing. Martin, who is the patron of interracial justice, was canonized by Pope John XXIII (r. 1958-1963) in 1962. Feast day: November 3.

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini

The first American citizen to become a saint. The youngest of thirteen children of Augustine Cabrini, a farmer, and Stella Oldini Cabrini, she was born on July 15, 1850, in Sant’ Angelo Lodigiano, Italy. She tried to enter a convent but was refused twice by local communities. Then in 1874, Monsignor Serrati, the parish pastor, asked Frances (called Maria Francesca at the time) to take over the poorly operated House of Providence Orphanage at Codogno. The original foundress of the house opposed Frances, and the institution was closed. Frances was then asked by the bishop of Todi to found another.

With seven followers, Frances moved into an abandoned friary at Codogno and founded the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart, devoted to teaching young girls. The congregation, approved locally in 1880, expanded to Rome and Milan.

Mother Cabrini’s fame spread, and she hoped to send sisters to China; however, Pope Leo XIII (r. 1878-1903) advised her to send them to the United States of America instead. In 1849, Archbishop Corrigan of New York invited Mother Cabrini to work with Italian immigrants in that port city. Though the archbishop withdrew his invitation because of a lack of facilities, Mother Cabrini stayed on in America. Almost every year she returned to Italy to bring back new sisters, despite the fact she had a terrible fear of the ocean.

For twenty-seven years Mother Cabrini planted her congregation across the United States, Italy, England, and into Central and South America, founding as many as sixty religious houses and charitable organizations.

She became an American citizen in 1909, and she died in Columbus Hospital in Chicago on December 22. Pope Pius XII (r. 1939-1958) canonized Mother Cabrini in 1946. In 1950, the pope declared her patroness of immigrants worldwide.

Feast day: November 13.

St. Cecilia

Cecilia (d. second-third century) — One of the most famous martyred virgins. She was a member of a patrician family, married against her will to a pagan noble named Valerianus, who was convinced to respect her virginity and to become a Christian. Valerianus and Cecilia’s brother Tiburtius were arrested for burying the bodies of martyrs. They were beheaded at Pagus Tropius, near Rome, with Maximus. While burying the three martyrs, Cecilia was arrested and tried by Almachius, the prefect, who condemned her to death. Cecilia was to be smothered to death, but when this was miraculously prevented, she was sentenced to beheading. The soldier assigned to this task bungled the execution, and Cecilia lived three days before dying from her wounds on September 16. 

She was buried in the cemetery of Callistus. Her name was entered into the Eucharistic prayer early. New scholarship puts doubt on her relationship with Valerianus and Tiburtius. The relics of all three rest in the basilica of St. Cecilia in Trastevere. Cecilia is patroness of musicians, and societies bearing her name were founded to promote church music. This patronage is attributed to the legend that on her wedding night Cecilia did not hear the secular music but sang to the Lord in her own heart. Pope St. Paschal I (r. 817-824) translated her relics to the basilica in Trastevere.

Feast day: November 22.

St. Andrew Dung-Lac and Companions

(d. 18th-19th c.): Martyrs of Vietnam. Total of 117, included 96 Vietnamese, 11 Spanish and 10 French missionaries (8 bishops, 50 priests, including Andrew Dung-Lac; 1 seminarian, 58 lay persons). Canonized June 19, 1988; inscribed in General Roman Calendar, 1989, as a memorial.

Feast day: November 24.

Christ the King

A movable feast, celebrated on the last Sunday of the liturgical year, solemnity. Commemorates the royal prerogatives of Christ and is equivalent to a declaration of his rights to the homage, service and fidelity of all people in all phases of individual and social life. Pius XI instituted the feast Dec. 11, 1925.

Feast celebrated November 22, 2015

For further reading, check out The Saints Devotional Bible.