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    All Souls’ Day

    On November 2, the Catholic Church remembers in the liturgy all believers in Christ who have departed from this world and are now in purgatory. The belief in the existence of purgatory is one of the dogmas of the faith proclaimed at the Council of Lyon in 1274. All Souls’ Day is a day of prayer and remembrance for the faithful departed.

    The tradition of praying for the dead who are waiting to meet God in heaven dates back to biblical times. The first references to praying and offering an atoning sacrifice for those who have departed from this world are in the Old Testament. Through prayer, intercessions, alms and visits to cemeteries, people commemorate the poor souls in purgatory and gain their indulgences. Beliefs and practices associated with All Souls’ Day vary widely among Christian denominations.

    All Souls’ Day is commemorated on November 2 – and it is worth remembering that it is All Souls’ Day which is the Feast of the Deceased, and not All Saints’ Day, which falls on November 1. However, it so happened that the holiday became November 1, and so the general celebration of the actual Feast of the Deceased shifted to that day. 

    In Poland, the tradition of All Souls’ Day began to form as early as the 12th century, and by the end of the 15th century, it was known throughout the country. Before the adoption of Christianity, the cult of the dead accompanied almost all celebrations. As late as the 19th century, sacrificial ceremonies were held in eastern Poland to evoke the dead, called “dziady.” These rituals became the inspiration for the creation of “Dziady” by Adam Mickiewicz.

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