All Saints’ Day is not about all the saints whom we do not know about; they are normally remembered on 2 November, on which we commemorate All Faithful Departed (All Souls’ Day). All Souls’ dates from the tenth century. It was abolished at the Reformation (in an attempt to correct the abuses attendant on the sale of Masses for the dead), but restored to the calendar in the twentieth century following a renewed appreciation of the universality of the Church as both Militant and Triumphant. (Cf. the eucharistic prayers in which we recite our communion with those in heaven.)
November also include feasts of uniquely Anglican witnesses, including Richard Hooker (3 November), who was instrumental in the development of Anglican identity, and is best remembered as the originator of the three leggèd stool of Scripture, Reason and Tradition. (Hooker actually never used the phrase, but the thinking is his.) Charles Simeon is remembered the 12th. He was instrumental in the 18th C. revival of what would become the Evangelical strain in the Church of England. On 14 November we remember the consecration of the first bishop in The Episcopal Church (Samuel Seabury, 1784.)
The month ends with the feast of St. Andrew the Apostle, patron both of Scotland and Russia. Other November notables include: Elizabeth and Zechariah, parents of John the Baptizer (5 November); Leo the Great (Bishop of Rome, d. 461, feast 10 November); Martin of Tours, patron of France (11 November). November is full of “royal” saints: Margaret of Scotland (11th C.); Elizabeth of Hungary (13th C.); and Kamehameha and Emma of Hawaii (19th C.)
St. Cecilia, martyred late 2nd C.—early 3rd. C. (feast 22 November) was a Roman noblewoman who is considered the patron saint of musicians. In a season in which we are interviewing candidates to be our next music director, may we be blessed with Cecilia’s prayers!
Clement of Rome (ca. A.D. 100, feast 23 November), an early pope, is remembered for his letter (Clement I), written in the style of the letters of Paul. The letter was important in instructing in doctrine, and was of such authority that the early Church debated including it in the Bible. Its inclusion in the canon of Scripture was rejected because the letter was not known widely enough outside of Greece (to whence it had been addressed).
Finally, let’s not forget Hilda of Whitby (18 November), the abbess who presided at the Synod of Whitby (663), at which the differences between the Celtic English Church and the Church brought to England by Augustine were resolved, and the English Church became a part once again of the western Church.