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All Souls and Guy Fawkes

02 November 2006


November 3rd, 1905.

THOSE who drew up our present Kalendar were singularly uninspired, when they omitted All Souls’ Day. They allowed their morbid fear of what they were pleased to call superstition to get the better of their reason. . . With the omission of the observance of a day devoted to such a pious and touching purpose as the remembrance of the dead, an extraordinary contrast is brought to our minds by the three hundredth anniversary of the Gunpowder Treason. The writer of "Varia" [a weekly column by "Peter Lombard", Canon William Benham] has gone fully into the event connected with the fifth of November, and no doubt many will, for the first time, add to their familiarity with the bare name of the Plot a clear idea of the facts. It will probably surprise some to learn that there are many people who can remember hearing the service which, by Royal appointment, used to be said on the fifth of November. Yet it is a fact that it lasted on until 1859, when it was ordered by the same authority to cease. We ask whether of the two observances was the more seemly, the commemoration of All Souls, or the yearly reminder of the iniquities of Catesby and Guy Fawkes, for which living Romanists were somehow held to be responsible because of their supposed approval of the miscreants of 1605? Happily we have got rid of this absurdity, and if ever the Kalendar is revised, we may be certain that All Souls’ Day will again find its proper place there.

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