Hagiography 104 All Saints Our Ancestors in God’s House

By Martin Nchedo Umeatuegbu

Everyone is familiar with the expression “Saint” or “Holy” with reference to certain persons. While these are beyond just expressions, they are rather a confirmation of a state attained by an individual. The familiarity with these expressions is courtesy of the fact that almost everyday in the Church’s Liturgy, the Feast of a Saint is celebrated.

Yet, every November 1, we do not celebrate a particular Saint in the Liturgy, but rather the rendition appears in plural form – _All Saints._ The question then becomes: Who are they? The Church makes an assemblage of every human in Heaven. The first information to note is that Saints are humans like us who now enjoy Eternal Glory beholding the face of the Blessed Trinity.

They are those who died in the peace of God in union with Christ the Redeemer, to the Glory of God the Father, strengthened and sanctified by the Holy Spirit. As humans in Heaven, they were not devoid of sin while on earth. Saints are sinners who attained holiness by constant efforts to rise above sin.

In the Litany of Saints and in the Canon 1 of the Roman Missal, known as the _Communicantes_ (Communicants), we see a list of persons such as Pastors/Priests, Religious, Martyrs, Virgins, Confessors and so on. While several of them are popular especially in their individual Feast days, there are many of them we do not know.

Hence, the Litany of Saints and the _Communucantes_ are not exhaustive, but only a  prolegomena to the numerous Saints in Heaven. Therefore, in the first place, the number of Saints we do not know is greater than the numbers we know. Secondly, not only those who are canonized are Saints, but also those who are not canonized insofar as they are in Heaven.

For if the meaning of saint is one in Heaven, then, it is only God alone who knows their number. This would include even those who did not practise the Christian faith, but kept God’s law of love in their hearts. Thirdly, Saints are part of the Church’s Mystery – a mystery which revolves around the mystery of God who is  _ho Proto Hagios_ (the First Saint) as well as the One who truly calls everyone to sanctity by first creating is in His own image. That is why we profess this mystery as a Communion of Saints in the Creed, while the Church recommends their veneration (see canon 1186).