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VATICAN CITY — On Monday evening Pope Francis visited the crypt beneath St. Peter’s Basilica where many popes are laid to rest, to pray for the repose of the souls of his predecessors in the office of bishop of Rome.
It is a tradition for popes to pray for their departed predecessors on Solemnity of All Souls—the liturgical feast on which the whole Church prays for the dead, recommending family, friends, loved ones and strangers alike to the mercy of God.
The month of November begins with the liturgical Solemnities of All Saints and All Souls.
On the November 1 Solemnity of All Saints, Catholics recall the witness of the saints whose names are known, as well as the magnificent vision of others “of all nations and tribes standing before the throne and in the sign of the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands” (cf. Rev. 7:2–12), proclaiming him who redeemed them in his blood.
After rejoicing with those who have entered the glory of heaven, on the November 2 Commemoration of All Souls, the Church prays for all those who, in purifying suffering of purgatory, await the day when they will see the Face of God and be joined to the company of saints.
The whole month of November, in fact, is focused in a special way on care and concern for the dead, as the Church commends all those who have passed to the Father of Mercies.
Diane Montagnais Rome correspondent for Aleteia’s English edition.