Golden Legend – Feast of All Hallows

Here followeth the Solemnity of All Hallows.

The feast of all the saints was established for four causes.

First, for the dedication of the temple; secondly, for supplement of offences done; thirdly, for to take away negligence; and fourthly, for to get more lightly that thing which we pray for.

This feast was established principally for the dedication of the temple. For the Romans saw that they were seigniored all over the world, and therefore they made a right great temple and set their idol in the middle, and all about this idol they set the false images of all the provinces; so that all the images beheld right the idol of Rome. And it was ordained by art of the devil that, when a province would rebel against the Romans, the image of that province should turn his back to the idol of Rome, like as in showing that it departed from the seigniory of Rome. And then anon the Romans would bring great puissance into that province, and there subdued it to their seigniory. And yet it sufficed not to the Romans that they had in their seigniory all the false images of the provinces, but made to each of those false gods a temple, like as those gods had made them lords and vanquishers of all the provinces. And because that all the idols might not be in that temple, they made a greater temple, more marvellous and high than all the others, and for to show the more their woodness, they dedicated this temple in the honour of all their gods. And more for to deceive the people, feigned that it had been commanded to them of Cybele, a goddess, that is called mother of the gods. And they called this temple, Pantheon, which is as much to say as all gods; of pan, that is all, and theos, that is god. And because they would have victory of all the people, therefore they made a great temple to all the sons of Cybele. And the foundament of this temple was cast round by a sphere, that by this form the perdurability of their gods should be showed. And for as much as the great quantity of the earth which was within seemed not sustainable to be voided, and that the work was a little seen above the earth, they filled the crevices within the earth, and meddled pennies with the earth, and did always so till the said temple was fully accomplished. And then they gave licence that whosoever would take away the earth, that all the money that he found with the earth should be his. Then came hastily great company of people and voided anon the temple. And at the last the Romans made a pinnacle of copper and gilt, and set it in a right high place, and it is said all the provinces were entailed and graven marvellously within that pinnacle, so that all they that came to Rome might see in that pinnacle in what part his province was. And this pinnacle after long time fell, and remained in the overest part of the temple. And in the time of Phocas the emperor, what time Rome had received the faith, Boniface, the fourth pope from Saint Gregory, about the year of our Lord six hundred and five, gat of Phocas the said temple, and did do take away and efface all the ordure of all these idols. And the fourth kalends of May he hallowed it in the honour of our Lady Saint Mary and of all the martyrs. And called it Saint Mary at martyrs, which is now called Sancta Maria Rotunda, that is Saint Mary the round. For then was made no solemnity of the confessors. And because there assembled great multitude of people at this feast, and there might not be found abundance of victual for the people that came, Pope Gregory established this feast to be in the kalends of November, for then ought to be greater abundance of victual, when the corn is had in, and wine made, and he established this day to be hallowed through the world in the honour of all saints. And thus the temple that had been made for all the idols is now dedicate and hallowed to all the saints, and whereas the worshipping of idols was used, there is now the praising of all saints. Secondly, it is ordained for the supplement of things offended and trespassed, that is to say, for to accomplish such as we have overpassed, for we have left and overpassed many saints of whom we have made no feast. We may not hallow the feast of every saint by himself, as well for the great multitude, which be infinity, as for our infirmity. For we be feeble and weak, and may not suffice for the shortness of time, for the time may not suffice thereto. And as Saint Jerome saith in an epistle which is in the beginning of his kalendar: There is no day, except the first day of January, but that there may be found every day more than five thousand martyrs. And therefore, because we may not singularly make feast of every saint, Saint Gregory the pope hath ordained and established that we shall on one day honour them generally and together.

And Master William of Auxerre putteth six reasons, in the sum of the office, wherefore it was established that we should here in this world make solemnity of the saints. The first is, for the honour of the divine majesty, for when we do worship the saint or saints, we worship God in his saints, and say that he is marvellous in them. For who that doth honour to saints, he honoureth him specially which hath sanctified them. The second is to have aid in our infirmity, for by ourselves we may have none health, therefore have we need of the prayers of saints, and therefore we ought to honour them, that we may deserve that they aid and help us. It is read in the Third Book of Kings, of the first chapter, that Beersheba is as much to say as the pit of filling, which is to say the church triumphant saying to her son, that is to say that to the church triumphant he had obtained the reign by his prayers. The third cause is for the augmentation of our surety, that is to say for the glory that is purposed in us; in their solemnity our hope and surety be augmented and increased. And if mortal men and dead might thus be enhanced by their merits, it is truth that the might and puissance shall nothing thereby be minished ne lessed. The fourth for the example of us following. For when the feast is remembered, we be called to ensue and follow them. So that by the example of them we despise all earthly things, and desire celestial things. The fifth is for the debt of interchanging neighbourhood, for the saints make of us feast in heaven. For the angels of God and the holy souls have joy and make feast in heaven of a sinner that doth penance, and therefore it is right when they make of us feast in heaven, that we make feast of them in earth. The sixth is for the procuration of our honour, for when we honour the saints we procure our honour, for their solemnity is our dignity, for when we worship our brethren we worship ourselves, for charity maketh all to be common, and our things be celestial, earthly and perdurable. And above these reasons, John Damascene putteth three reasons in his fourth book the seventh chapter, why and wherefore the saints and their relics ought to be honoured, of which some be praised for their dignities and some for the preciousness of their bodies. And the dignity of them is in four manners. For they be friends of God, sons of God, heirs of God, and our dukes and leaders. And Saint John putteth these authorities: Johannis decimo quinto. For the first: Jam non dicam vos servos et cetera, I say you not now servants but friends. For the second, Johannis primo: Dedit eis potestatem filios Dei fieri, he gave to them power to be made the sons of God. Of the third: Ad Romanos octavo, if ye be sons ye be heirs, et cetera. Of the fourth he saith thus: How much shouldst thou labour to find a leader to bring thee to the king and speak for thee, that is to wit, that they be leaders of grace and of all human lineage, and speak and pray for us to God, wherefore they ought to be worshipped. Others be taken as touching the preciosity of their bodies. And the said John Damascene putteth four reasons, and Saint Augustine putteth thereto the fifth, by which is showed the preciosity of the bodies or of the relics. For the holy bodies were the celiers of God, temple of Jesu Christ; they were the alabaster or box of the precious ointment, and the fountain of the divine life, members of the Holy Ghost. First, they were the celiers of God, for the saints be celiers of God and pure adornments. Secondly, they were the temple of Jesu Christ, for it followeth because that God dwelled in them by entendment, whereof the apostle saith: Ne know ye not that your bodies be the temple of the Holy Ghost dwelling in you? Hereof saith Chrysostom: Man delighteth him in edification of walls, and God delighteth him in the conversation of saints. Whereof David saith: Sire, I have loved the beauty of thy house. But that beauty is not made by diversity of marble, but it is given to living men by diversity of graces. The beauty of marble the flesh delighteth, the beauty of grace quickeneth the soul, the first deceiveth the eyes, and that other edifieth by double entendment. Thirdly, they be the alabaster or box of spiritual ointment, wherefore it is said: Ointment of good odour cometh of himself, and this give the relics of saints. If the water ran from the rock and out of the stone, in desert, and also water ran out of the jaw of the ass to Samson which had thirst, then it is not incredible that there runneth from the relics of saints ointments well-smelling to them that know the gift of God and the honour of saints which cometh from him. Fourthly, they be fountains of divinity. Of whom it is said: They that live in verity with free patience be assistant to God, and be to us wells of health. Our Lord Jesu Christ giveth unto relics of his saints many benefits in divers manners. Fifthly, they be members of the Holy Ghost. This reason assigneth Saint Augustine in the book, De Civitate Dei, and saith: They be not to be despised but to be honoured greatly, and to worship the bodies of the saints, of whom, when they lived, the Holy Ghost used as his own member in all good works. And the apostle saith: Ye seek experience of him that speaketh in me, Christ. And of Saint Stephen it is said: They might not resist his wisdom, ne to the Holy Ghost that spake in him. And Ambrose saith in the Hexametron: It is a right precious thing that a man is made the member of divine voice, and with his bodily lips expresseth the words celestial. Thirdly, the feast of all the saints is established for the cleansing of our negligences. For howbeit that we hallow the feasts of a few saints, yet we keep them negligently ofttimes, and leave many things undone by ignorance and by negligence. And if we have not solemnised any feasts as we ought to do, but negligently, now in this general feast we ought to fulfil and amend it, and purge us of our negligence. And this reason is touched in a sermon that is recited this day in the church. And it is ordained that at this day memory is made of all saints, that whatsomever fragility human hath done less than he ought by ignorance, by negligence, or by occupation of secular things in the solemnity of saints, that it be appeased in the observation of this holy feast. It is to be noted that there be four differences of the saints that we honour by the course of the year, which be of the New Testament, of whom on this day we gather together for to accomplish that which we have negligently done, that be apostles, martyrs, confessors, and virgins. And after Rabanus, these four be signified by the four parts of the world, by the orient, that is east, the apostles; by the south, the martyrs; by the north, the confessors; and by the west, the virgins. The first difference is of the apostles, of whom the excellence is manifested because they surmount all the other saints in four things. First, in sovereignty of dignity, for they be the wise princes of the church militant, they be the puissant assessors of the judge perdurable, they be sweet pastors of the sheep and flock of our Lord, and they be sweet judges. As Bernard saith: It beseemeth well to establish such pastors and such doctors of the human lineage that be sweet or soft, puissant and wise. Sweet or soft, that they receive us goodly by mercy, mighty, for to defend us puissantly, wise, for to bring us to the way of truth. After, they surmount the other saints in sovereignty of puissance, whereof Saint Augustine saith thus: God gave power to the apostles over the devils, for to destroy them, above the elements, to change them, above nature, to cure it, above the souls for to assoil them of their sins, above the death, for to despise it, above the angels, for to sacre the precious body of our Lord Jesu Christ. Thirdly, they exceed other saints in prerogative of holiness, so that by their great holiness and plenitude of graces, the life and conversation of Jesu Christ shone in them as in a mirror, and was known in them as the sun in his splendour, as a rose in his odour, and as fire in his heat. And hereof saith Chrysostom upon Matthew: Jesu Christ sent his apostles as the sun his rays, and as the rose is felt by his odour and as the fire is seen in his sparkles, so by the virtues of them is known the puissance of Jesu Christ. Fourthly, the apostles exceed other saints in the effect of profit. Of which utility Saint Augustine, speaking of the apostles, saith: Of the most vile, of the most idiotic, and of the least, be ennobled, enlumined, and multiplied the most eloquent and fair speakers, the clearest wits and cunning, and most plenteous wisdom, of facound and speaking of authors and doctors. The second diflference is of martyrs, of whom the excellence is showed, by that they suffered in many manners profitably, constantly and multiplyingly. For above the martyrdom of blood-shedding they suffered three other martyrdoms without effusion of blood, that is scarceness in plenty, which David had, largesse in poverty, which Tobit showed, and chastity of widowhood in youth, of which Joseph used in Egypt. And after Gregory also, this is treble martyrdom without shedding of blood, that is patience in adversity, whereof it is said: We may be martyrs without iron if we keep verily patience in our courage. Compassion of them that be in affliction and torments, whereof it is said: Who that hath compassion of any that is in necessity, he beareth the cross in his thought. And he that suffered villainy and loveth his enemy is a martyr secretly in his mind. Secondly, they suffered martyrdom profitably, which profit on the part of the martyrs is remission of all sins, heaping and having plenty of merits and receiving of joy perdurable. And these things have they bought with their precious blood, and therefore it is said: Their blood is precious, that is to say, full of price. And of the first and second, Augustine saith, in the City of God: What thing is more precious than death, by which sins be pardoned and merits increased? And the same upon John, saith: The blood of Jesu Christ is precious without sin, and yet made he the blood of his saints precious, for whom he gave his precious blood. For if he had not made the blood of his saints precious, it should not be said that the death of saints is precious in the sight of our Lord. And Cyprian saith that martyrdom is the end of sin, term of peril, leader of health, master of patience and house of life. Of the third, Saint Bernard saith: Three things there be that make the death of saints precious, rest of travail, joy of novelty, surety of perdurability. And as touching to us the profit is double; for they be given to us for an example to fight, whereof Saint John Chrysostom saith to us: Thou, christian man, art a knight delicate if thou ween to have victory without fighting and triumph without battle. Exercise thy strength mightily, and fight thou cruelly in this battle. Consider the covenant, understand the condition, know the noble chivalry, know the covenant that thou hast made and promised, the condition that thou hast taken, the chivalry to whom thou hast given the name. For by that covenant all men fight, and by that condition all have vanquished and by that chivalry. This saith Chrysostom. Secondly, they be given to us, patrons for to aid and help us, they aid us by their merits and their orisons. Of the first, saith Saint Augustine: O the immeasured pity of our Lord, which will that the merits of the martyrs be our aids and suffrages. He examineth them for to enseign and teach us. He breaketh them for to gather us, and he will that their torments be our profits. Of the second, saith Saint Jerome against Vigilantius: If the apostles and martyrs, when they were yet in their bodies alive, might pray for others, and were therein diligent, how much more then ought they to do after their crowns, victory and triumphs? Of whom Moses, one only man, get pardon for six thousand men armed, and Saint Stephen prayed for his enemies, and sith they be now with God should they do less? Thirdly, the martyrs have suffered constantly. Saint Augustine saith that the soul of a martyr is the glaive resplendent by charity, sharp by verity, brandished by the virtue of’ God fighting, the which hath surmounted the company of gainsaying them in reproving them. She hath smitten the wicked, and thrown down them that were contrary to her. And Chrysostom saith that the martyrs tormented were stronger than the tormentors, and the torn members vanquished the renting irons. The third difference is of the confessors, of whom the dignity and excellence is manifested because they confessed God in three manners, by heart, by mouth, and by work. The confession of heart sufficeth not without confession of mouth; like as John Chrysostom saith and proveth it in four manners. And as to the first he saith thus: The root of confession is faith of the heart, and as long as the root is alive and quick in the earth it is necessary that she bring forth boughs and leaves, and if it bring none forth it is to understand that it is dried in the earth. And all in like wise when to the root of faith is whole in the heart, she bringeth forth always confession in the mouth, and if the confession of the heart appeareth not in the mouth, understand without doubt that the faith of the heart is dried up. As to the second, he saith: If it sufficeth to believe in the heart and not to confess it tofore men, then thou art untrue and a hypocrite. For how be it that he believeth not at the heart, yet it profiteth him to confess with his mouth. And if it profiteth not him that confesseth without belief, it profiteth not to him that believeth without confession. And as to the third, he saith: If it suffice to Jesu Christ that thou know him, how be it that thou confess him not tofore men, then it sufficeth to thee also that thou know him, and if thou confess Jesu Christ tofore God and if his cognisance sufficeth not to thee, no more sufficeth to thee thy faith. As to the fourth, he saith: If only the faith of thy heart should suffice to thee, God would then have created to thee but only the heart, but God hath created both the heart and the mouth, for to believe with thy heart, and to confess it with thy mouth. Thirdly, they confessed God by work, and Saint Jerome showeth how God is confessed by work or renied, and saith: Jesu Christ is sapience, righteousness, truth, holiness, and strength. Sapience is denied by folly, righteousness by iniquity, truth by leasings, holiness by filth, and strength by feeble courage. And as oft as we be overcome by vices and by sins, we reny God. Also in the contrary, as oft as we do any good, we confess God. The fourth difference is of the virgins, of whom the excellence and dignity is showed and manifested. First, in that they be the spouses of the eternal king, and hereof saith Saint Ambrose: Who may esteem more greater beauty than the beauty of her that is loved of the king, approved of the judge, dedicated of God, always an espouse, and always without corruption? Secondly, because she is compared to angels; virginity surmounteth all conditions of nature human, by which men be associate to angels, and the victory of virgins is more than of angels. The angels live without flesh, and virgins living in their flesh triumph. Thirdly, for because they be more noble than other christian people, whereof Cyprian saith: Virginity is the flower of the seed of the church, beauty and adornment of spiritual grace, a glad joy of laud and honour, work entire and incorrupt, image of God, and yet more noble as to the holiness of God and portion of the flock of Jesu Christ. Fourthly, because they be put to their husbands; and this excellence that virginity had as to the respect of the accouplement of marriage appeareth by manifold comparation. For marriage filleth and swelleth the belly, and virginity the mind, whereof Augustine saith: Virginity chooseth to follow the life of angels in their flesh, than to increase the number of mortal people in their flesh. For it is more blessed and more plenteous to increase their mind than to be great with child. For some have children of sorrow, and virginity bringeth forth children of joy, virginity replenisheth heaven of children, and they that be married replenish the earth. And Jerome saith: The weddings fill the earth, and virginity filleth heaven; that one is of great business, and this is of great rest; virginity is silence of charge, peace of the flesh, redemption of vices and princess of virtues. Marriage is good, but virginity is better. Saint Jerome saith to Palmatius the difference between marriage and virginity, and saith: The difference is as much as is between not to sin and to do well, or as I may clearlier say, as is between good and better. For marriage is compared to thorns, and virginity to roses. And he saith to Eustochius: I praise marriage, for they engender virgins. I gather from the thorns roses, gold from the earth, and out of the shell a precious margaret or stone. Fifthly is showed the dignity and excellence of virgins, for they enjoy many privileges. For the virgins shall have the crown that is called aureole, they only shall sing the new song, they shall be clad with vestments of the same with Jesu Christ, and joy always with him, and they shall follow always the Lamb. The fourth and the last: This feast is established for to impetre and get the sooner that thing that we pray for, because that we honour this day all the saints generally which also pray for us all together, and so they may the lightlier get the mercy of our Lord for us. For if it be impossible that the prayers of some saints be not heard, it is much more impossible that the prayers of all should not be heard. And this reason is touched when it is said in the collect: Desideratam nobis tuæ propitiationis abundantiam multiplicatis intercessoribus largiaris: Lord, give to us by the multiplied prayers of all thy saints the desired abundance of thy debonairly. And the saints pray for us by merit and by effect, by merit when their merit helpeth us, by effect when they desire our desires to be accomplished, and this do they not but thereas they accomplish the will of our Lord. And that on this day all the saints assemble them for to pray for us, it is showed in a vision that happened in the second year after this feast was stablished. On a time when the sexton of Saint Peter had by devotion visited all the altars of the church, and had required suffrages of all the saints, at the last he came again to the altar of Saint Peter, and there rested a little, and saw there a vision. For he saw the King of Kings in a high throne sit, and all the angels round about him, and the Blessed Virgin of virgins came crowned with a right resplendishing crown, and there followed her a great multitude of virgins without number, and continents also. And anon the king arose against her and made her to sit on a seat by him. And after came a man clad with the skin of a camel, and a great multitude of ancient and honourable fathers following him, and after came a man in the habit of a bishop, and a great multitude in semblable habit following him. And after came a multitude of knights without number, whom followed a great company of divers people. Then came they all tofore the throne of the king, and adored him upon their knees. And then he that was in the habit of a bishop began matins, and the others followed. And an angel which led this sexton thus in the vision, expounded this vision to him and said that our Blessed Lady the Virgin was she that was in the first company, and he that was clad in the hair of camels was Saint John Baptist with the patriarchs and prophets, and he that was adorned in the habit of a bishop was Peter with the apostles; the knights were the martyrs and the others the confessors; the which all came tofore our Lord sitting in his throne, for to give to him laud and thankings of the honour that was done to them in this world of the mortal people, and prayed to him for all the universal world. And after, the angel brought him into another place, and showed to him men and women, some in beds of gold, others enjoying in divers delights, others naked and poor, and others begging, and said to him that this was the place of purgatory, they that dwelled there were the souls. They that abounded in wealth were the souls of them which were succoured by their friends by many aids, the poor were the souls of whom their executors and friends set not by them, ne did nothing for them. And then he commanded him that he should show this to the pope, that after the feast of All Hallows he should establish the commemoration of all souls, and that general suffrages temporal might be done for them on the next day, where they may have none in special.