Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Sunday 26 September |
Saint of the Day: Sts Cosmas and Damian
home iconSpirituality
line break icon

Why All Souls Day was established by this Benedictine monk

Odilo of Cluny

Francesco Andreani | Public Domain

Philip Kosloski - published on 11/02/19

St. Odilo of Cluny directed all his monks to pray for the souls in purgatory on the day following All Saints Day.

All Souls Day has a fascinating history, one that can be traced back to the 10th century and the initiative of St. Odilo of Cluny.

St. Odilo was a holy abbot of a Benedictine monastery located in Cluny, France. This monastery became highly influential during the Middle Ages and played a crucial role in the development of monastic life.

During his time at Cluny, St. Odilo instructed his monks to pray for the souls in purgatory on the day following All Saints Day. There are various legends regarding this institution. Here is one of the most popular, as printed in Donahoe’s Magazine in 1880.

A French pilgrim returning from Jerusalem was cast by a storm upon the coast of Sicily. A [hermit], who dwelt amid the rocks of the sea-shore, asked him if he knew the monastery of Cluny and the abbot Odilo. “Often,” said the hermit, “I hear the spirits of darkness uttering blasphemous curses against those pious persons whose prayers and alms free the souls that suffer in [purgatory]; but they are particularly bitter against Odilo and his religious. I therefore earnestly entreat you, in the name of God, when you reach your native land, to urge the holy abbot and his monks to redouble their prayers for the suffering souls in purgatory.” The pilgrim delivered the request, and Odilo directed that in all the monasteries of his order, a yearly commemoration of all the faithful departed should be made on the day following the feast of All Saints …The pious practice was gradually adopted by other churches, and soon became of general observance throughout the Catholic world.

Whether or not this actually happened is debatable, but this story has been passed down over the centuries and must have some truth to it. The annual commemoration of All Souls can be traced to St. Odilo, and it was gradually adopted by other churches in Europe until it became a universal feast of the Catholic Church.


FATHER-PRAYING-KIDS-BED

Read more:
7 Ways to celebrate All Souls Day as a family


PADRE PIO

Read more:
When Padre Pio was visited by a soul from purgatory

Tags:
Devotions and FeastsSaints
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
1
VATICAN LEGOS
J-P Mauro
Chicago architect models Vatican City from 67,000 LEGO bricks
2
SLEEPING
Cecilia Pigg
7 Ways the saints can help you sleep better at night
3
Tolkien
Philip Kosloski
Why J.R.R. Tolkien loved to attend daily Mass
4
The Sinai Peninsula and the Dead Sea Rift
J-P Mauro
Experts now believe Sodom was destroyed by a meteor
5
PADRE PIO
Bret Thoman, OFS
Exclusive photos: Meet Padre Pio and the place he lived
6
PADRE PIO
Philip Kosloski
How Our Lady saved Padre Pio from a violent demonic attack
7
peace
Cerith Gardiner
9 Padre Pio quotes for when you’re feeling scared or uncertain
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.