Saturday, November 01, 2008

For All the Saints

Everything in our part of town is shut today with the exception of a few bars, restaurants and supermarkets. There is very little traffic in our area but the areas around any of the major cemeteries are sure to be gridlock as people go to pay their respects at family plots.

I recall the same thing being the case when we lived in Warsaw - everyone would head out to the cemetery to put flowers and candles on the graves of family and friends. By nightfall the graveyards would be shimmering with the flicker of thousands of candles - all lit in remembrance of loved ones. As a group we would go to several locations to commemorate events involving Canadians with the last stop being Cmentarz Powązkowski to lay wreaths at the memorial to six Canadians aviators shot down during the Siege of Warsaw and at the memorial to the Polish Officers massacred at Katyn.

Our friend C. Y. Pan had noticed on a previous All Saints that a number of the graves - particularly those of soldiers and civilians from the Hitler War - were unattended. He felt that they should be remembered by someone and thus began the tradition of buying five or six candles at the entrance of the cemetery and leaving them on graves that might otherwise be left unvisited. He also felt it was a way of remembering our own so far away. It was a small gesture but it once again was a way of bringing some light into a corner that would have otherwise remained dark amongst the flickering candles.

Again when I was active in my parish I loved the Feast of All Saints - its ceremonies, the celebration words of the Book of Common Prayer and most of all the music. We always sang the Ralph Vaughan Williams setting of Bishop William Walsham How's For All the Saints. Here it is sung by one of the finest amateur choirs in the world: the Huddersfield Choral Society.

01 novembre - Ognisanti


sageweb said...

How nice of your friend to start such a tradition. I can't imagine a day where things are shut down over here...people are to greedy and needy.

Elizabeth said...

What a lovely tradition. I wish we had it here as well. We don't have, in our lives, any dedicated times or holidays of remembrance here. (Veteran's day is now Barbecue Day, in everything but name.) I would have love to have seen those cemeteries in Warsaw shining and flickering.