ALL SAINTS DAY
The custom of commemorating all of the saints of the church on a single day goes back at least to the third century. All Saints Day celebrates the baptized people of God, living and dead, who make up the body of Christ. On this day or the following Sunday, many congregations will remember the faithful who have died during the past year.
MARTIN DE PORRES, RENEWER OF SOCIETY, died 1639
Martin was the son of a Spanish knight and a freed black slave from Panama. As a lay brother in the Order of Preachers (Dominican), he engaged in many charitable works in Lima, Peru. He founded an orphanage, a hospital, and a clinic for cats and dogs.
JOHN CHRISTIAN FREDRICK HEYER, died 1873
BARTHOLOMEACUS ZIEGENBALG, died 1719
LUDWIG NOMMENSEN, died 1918 MISSIONARIES
Heyer was the first missionary sent out by American Lutherans. After teaching at Gettysburg College and Seminary he was assigned to the Audhra region of India. A worker among the Tamil people on the southeast coast of India, Ziegenbalg was opposed both by local Hindus and by Danish authorities who favored a different missionary style. He was known for caring about the welfare of the whole person. Nommensen was born in northern Germany and was sent to Sumatra as a Lutheran missionary. Working among the Batak people, he translated the scriptures into their language, and honored their native culture.
JOHANN VON STAUPTIZ, CONFESSOR
Johann von Staupitz (ca. 1469 – 1524), vicar-general of the Augustinian Order in Germany and friend of Martin Luther, was born in Saxony. He studied at the universities in Leipzig and Cologne and served on the faculty at Cologne. In 1503 he was called by Frederick the Wise to serve as dean of the theological faculty at the newly founded University of Wittenberg. There he encouraged Luther to attain a doctorate in theology and appointed Luther as his successor to professor of Bible. During Luther’s early struggles to understand God’s grace, it was Staupitz who counseled Luther to focus on Christ and not on himself.
MARTIN CHEMNITZ, PASTOR AND CONFESSOR
Martin Chemnitz (1552 – 1586) is regarded after Martin Luther as the most important theologian in the history of the Lutheran Church. Chemnitz combined a penetrating intellect and an almost encyclopedic knowledge of Scripture and the church fathers with a genuine love for the church. When various doctrinal disagreements broke out after Luther’s death in 1546, Chemnitz determined to give himself fully to the restoration of unity in the Lutheran Church. He became the leading spirit and principal author of the 1577 Formula of Concord, which settled the doctrinal disputes on the basis of the Scriptures and largely succeeded in restoring unity among Lutherans. Chemnitz also authored the four volumes Examination of the Council of Trent (1565 – 1573), in which he rigorously subjected the teachings of this Roman Catholic Council to the judgment of Scripture and the ancient church fathers. The Examination became the definitive Lutheran answer to the Council of Trent, as well as a thorough exposition of the faith of the Augsburg Confession. A theologian and a churchman, Chemnitz was truly a gift of God to the Church.
MARTIN OF TOURS, BISHOP, died 397
Martin (316 – 397) was born to a pagan family but decided to follow Jesus at the age of ten. Martin became bishop of Tours in 371 spreading the good news of Jesus to the Roman province of Gaul founding many churches and monasteries. Along with Patrick, Boniface, Columba and other unknown missionaries, Martin helped spread the faith to the out posts of the Roman Empire resulting in a Christian Europe for over a thousand years.
SOREN AABYE KIERKEGAARD, TEACHER, died 1855
Kierkegaard was a Danish theologian whose writings also gave rise to the modern philosophy of existentialism. He frequently attacked the complacency of the state church of his day, as well as its desire to be accepted by polite society rather than be a stumbling block. His “Fear and Trembling” is a classic.
JUSTINIAN, EMPEROR AND CONFESSOR
Justinian was emperor of the East from A.D. 527 to 565 when the Roman Empire was in decline. With his beautiful and capable wife, Theodora, he restored splendor and majesty to the Byzantine court. During his reign the Empire experienced a renaissance, due in large part to his ambition, intelligence, and strong religious convictions. Justinian also attempted to bring unity to a divided church. He was a champion of Orthodox Christianity and sought agreement among the parties in the Christological controversies of the day who were disputing the relation between the divine and human natures in the Person of Christ. The Fifth Ecumenical Council in Constantinople in A.D. 533 was held during his reign and addressed this dispute. Justinian died in his eighties, not accomplishing his desire for an empire that was firmly Christian and orthodox.
ELIZABETH OF HUNGARY, PRINCESS AND CONFESSOR, died 1231
Born in Pressburg, Hungary, in 1207, Elizabeth was the daughter of King Andrew II and his wife Gertrude. Given as a bride in an arranged political marriage, Elizabeth became the wife of Louis of Thuringia in Germany at the age of 14. She had a spirit of Christian generosity and charity, and the home she established for her husband and three children in Wartburg Castle at Eisenach was known for its hospitality and family love. Elizabeth often supervised the care of the sick and needy and even gave up her bed to a leper at one time. Widowed at the age of 20, she made provisions for her children and entered into an austere life as a nun in the Order of Saint Francis. Her self-denial led to failing health and an early death in 1231 at the age of 24. Remembered for her self-sacrificing ways, Elizabeth is commemorated through the many hospitals named for her around the world.
CLEMENT OF ROME, BISHOP AND TEACHER, died around 100
Clement, referred to in Philippians 4:3, was the third bishop of Rome after Peter. He was banished to the Crimea during the reign of the Roman Emperor Trajan and forced to work in the mines. His witness to Christ, bearing the cross in trials, led to the conversion of many. He is known as the first of the Apostolic Fathers and his first letter (1 Clement) is a model of pastoral concern. Several early manuscripts of the New Testament number it among the canonical books. Clement was martyred for Christ, according to some traditions, by being tied to an anchor and thrown in the Black Sea.
MIGUEL AGUSTIN PRO, MARTYR, died 1927
Pro grew up in a time when the Mexican revolutionaries accused the church of siding with the wealthy. He became a Jesuit priest, and worked on behalf of the poor and homeless. Falsely accused of throwing a bomb at a government official, he was executed, but not before crying out “Long live Christ the King!”
JUSTUS FALCKNER, PASTOR, died 1723
JEHU JONES, PASTOR, died 1852
WILLIAM PASSAVANT, PASTOR, died 1894
Not only was Falckner the first Lutheran ordained in North America, but he published a catechism which was the first Lutheran book published on the continent. Jones was the Lutheran church’s first African American pastor and carried out missionary work in Philadelphia which led to the formation there of the first African American Lutheran congregation (St. Paul’s). William Passavant helped to establish hospitals and orphanages in a number of cities and was the first to introduce deaconesses to the work of hospitals in the United States.
ISSAC WATTS, HYMNWRITER, died 1748
The father of English hymnody, Watts (1574 – 1748) wrote classic hymns of devotion such as “O God Our Help in Ages Past” and “Joy to the World” (ELW 362 & 267).
Noah, the son of Lamech (Genesis 5:30), was instructed by God to build an ark, in which his family would find security from the destructive waters of a devastating flood that God warned would come. Noah built the ark, and the rains descended. The entire earth was flooded destroying “every living thing that was on the face of the ground, both man and beast” (Genesis 7:23). After the flood waters subsided, the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat. When Noah determined it was safe, and God confirmed it, he and his family and all the animals disembarked. Then Noah built an altar and offered a sacrifice of thanksgiving to God for having saved his family from destruction. A rainbow in the sky was declared by God to be a sign of His promise that never again would a similar flood destroy the entire earth (Genesis 8:30). Noah is remembered and honored for his obedience, believing that God would do what He said He would.
Andrew was a fisherman, the brother of Peter, and the first apostle to follow Jesus (John 1:35 – 40). Andrew brought Peter to Christ. According to tradition, Andrew was martyred for sharing the gospel at Patras in Achaia on the X shaped cross. St. Andrew’s Day determines the beginning of the Christian year, since the first Sunday in Advent is always the Sunday nearest this day.