Ordinary Time: October 31st
Monday of the Thirty-First Week in Ordinary Time; All Hallows' Eve
Other Commemorations: St. Quentin of Vermand, Martyr (RM) ; Other Titles: All Hallows' Eve; Halloween
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The Roman Martyrology (2004) commemorates today St. Quentin, martyr (d. 287), a Roman, descended from a senatorial family. Full of zeal for the kingdom of Jesus Christ, he left his country, and, attended by St. Lucian of Beauvais, made his way to Gaul. They preached the faith together in that country till they reached Amiens in Picardy, where they parted. St. Quentin was seized, thrown into prison, and loaded with chains. He was condemned to the most barbarous torture. His body was pierced with two iron wires from the neck to the thighs, and iron nails were thrust under his nails, and in his flesh in many places, particularly into his skull; and lastly, his head was cut off.
Tomorrow is the solemnity of All Saints; it is the Eve of All Saints, commonly known as Halloween. "Solemnities are counted as the principal days in the calendar and their observance begins with Evening Prayer I of the preceding day. Some also have their own vigil Mass for use when Mass is celebrated in the evening of the preceding day" (GNLYC). Pope Sixtus IV in 1484 established November 1, the feast of All Saints, as a holy day of obligation and gave it both a vigil (known today as "All Hallows' Eve" or "Hallowe'en") and an eight-day period or octave to celebrate the feast. By 1955, the octave of All Saints was removed, and the current missal does not have a vigil Mass for the feast.
All Hallows' Eve
Halloween or All Hallows' Eve is not a liturgical feast on the Catholic calendar, but the celebration has deep ties to the Liturgical Year. The three consecutive days — Halloween, All Saints Day and All Souls Day — illustrate the Communion of Saints. We, the Church Militant (those on earth, striving to get to heaven) pray for the Church Suffering (those souls in Purgatory) especially on All Souls Day and the month of November. We rejoice and honor the Church Triumphant (the saints, canonized and uncanonized) in heaven. We also ask the Saints' intercession for us.
The separate vigil and octave were abrogated in 1955, but Halloween evening marks the beginning of the observance of All Saints Day.
In England, saints or holy people are called "hallowed," hence the name "All Hallows' Day." The evening, or "e'en" before the feast became popularly known as "All Hallows' Eve" or even shorter, "Hallowe'en."
Since it was the night before All Saints Day, "All Hallows' Eve" (now known as Hallowe'en), was the vigil and required fasting, many recipes and traditions have come down for this evening, such as pancakes, boxty bread and boxty pancakes, barmbrack (Irish fruit bread with hidden charms), colcannon (combination of cabbage and boiled potatoes). This was also known as "Nutcrack Night" in England, where the family gathered around the hearth to enjoy cider and nuts and apples.
Halloween is the preparation and combination of the two upcoming feasts. Although the demonic and witchcraft have no place in a Catholic celebration, some macabre can be incorporated into Halloween. It is good to dwell on our certain death, the Poor Souls in Purgatory, and the Sacrament of the Sick. And tied in with this theme is the saints, canonized and non-canonized. What did they do in their lives that they were able to reach heaven? How can we imitate them? How can we, like these saints, prepare our souls for death at any moment?
For more information see Catholic Culture's Halloween page.
Also read from Catholic Culture's library:
- Halloween: Celebrate Like a Catholic by Jennifer Gregory Miller
- Halloween and All Saints Day by Father William Saunders
- Holyween: Reclaim The Celebration Of All Saints by Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.
- Catholics Give the Best Parties by Jeffrey Tucker
St. Quentin of Vermand
Saint Quentin was a Roman, descended from a senatorial family. Full of zeal for the kingdom of Jesus Christ, he left his country and went into Gaul, accompanied by eleven other apostles sent from Rome. They separated to extend their campaign of evangelization to the various regions of France. Saint Quentin remained at Amiens and endeavored by his prayers and labors to make that region part of Our Lord's inheritance. By the force of his words and works he anticipated the glory of his martyrdom. He gave sight to the blind, vigor to paralytics, hearing to the deaf, and agility to the infirm, in the name of Our Lord, simply by the sign of the Cross. At all hours of the day, he invoked his God in fervent supplications.
But this apostolate could not escape the notice of Rictiovarus, the Roman prosecutor who at that time represented Maximian Herculeus in Gaul. Saint Quentin was seized at Amiens, thrown into prison, and loaded with chains. Rictiovarus asked him: How does it happen that you, of such high nobility and the son of so distinguished a father, have given yourself up to so superstitious a religion, a folly, and that you adore an unfortunate man crucified by other men? Saint Quentin replied: It is sovereign nobility to adore the Creator of heaven and earth, and to obey willingly His divine commandments. What you call folly is supreme wisdom. What is there that is wiser than to recognize the unique true God, and to reject with disdain the counterfeits, which are mute, false and deceiving?
When the holy preacher was found to be invulnerable to either promises or threats, the prosecutor condemned him to the most barbarous torture. He was stretched on the rack and flogged. He prayed for strength, for the honor and glory of the name of God, forever blessed. He was returned to the prison when the executioners who were striking him fell over backwards, and told Rictiovarus they were unable to stand up, and could scarcely speak. An Angel released the prisoner during the night, telling him to go and preach in the city, and that the persecutor would soon fall before the justice of God. His sermon, a commented paraphrase of the Apostles' Creed, has been conserved. To his profession of faith in the Holy Trinity, he added that Our Lord Jesus Christ, whom he adored, gave sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, health to the sick and even life to the dead. At His voice, the lame leaped up and ran, paralytics walked, and water was changed into wine... He has promised to be forever with those who hope in Him, and He never abandons those who place their hope in Him; by His omnipotence, He delivers them, whenever it pleases Him, from all their tribulations. His guardians discovered that he had disappeared, though all doors were barred, and found him in the city preaching. They were converted by the prodigy. But Rictiovarus was furious and said to them: You, too, have become magicians?
Brought back before the tribunal as a sorcerer, Saint Quentin said: If by persevering in my faith, I am put to death by you, I will not cease to live in Jesus Christ; this is my hope, I maintain it with confidence. He was again placed on the rack and beaten, and tortured with other demoniacal means; his flesh pierced with two iron wires from the shoulders to the thighs, and iron nails were thrust into his fingers, his skull and body. Finally, this glorious martyr was decapitated, after praying and saying: O Lord Jesus, God of God, Light of Light..., for love of whom I have given up my body to all the torments... ah! I implore Thee, in Thy holy mercy, receive my spirit and soul, which I offer Thee with all the ardor of my desires. Do not abandon me, O most kind King, most clement King, who livest and reignest with the Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, forever and ever! His death occurred on October 31, 287.
His body was twice buried secretly, and twice it was rediscovered miraculously—in the years 338 and 641, first by Saint Eusebius of Rome, on a marshy island, where it had remained intact; later near the city of Augusta, by Saint Eloi. Saint Quentin remains in great honor in France above all, where more than fifty-two churches and as many localities were, at the beginning of the 20th century, dedicated to his memory; he is honored also in Belgium and in Italy. Charlemagne and the kings of France have gone to venerate the relics of Saint Quentin.
—Excepted from Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin
Often Portrayed As: bishop holding a roasting spit; a Roman soldier holding one or two spits; a deacon; man with a broken wheel; man with a chair to which he is transfixed; man with a sword; beheaded, a dove flying from his severed head.
Patronage: bombardiers; chaplains: locksmiths; porters; tailors; surgeons; against coughs; against sneezes; against dropsy.
Highlights and Things To Do:
- Read Dado's, bishop of Rouen, description of Quentin's martyrdom (scroll down to ----lacuna including c. 4----).
- Have a glimpse of some of the images of a 12th century manuscript that depicted Quentin's martyrdom (site is in French). John Dillon has tracked down many different medieval images of St. Quentin.
- St. Quentin's relics are found in the Basilica of Saint Quentin in Saint-Quentin, Aisne, France.
- The town and prison San Quentin in California are named after St. Quentin.