The Day of the Deceased Faithful

workers cleaning mausoleums On this day, November 02, the Roman Catholic calendar marks The Day of the Deceased Faithful. This day is set aside to commemorate the deceased relatives of Catholics.

Given that Paraguay is a country that is strongly inside the Roman Catholic tradition, this day usually has a deep signification to people. During this day and the day before (November 1, All Saint’s Day) people would go to cemeteries, clean up the mausoleums, pray for the salvation of their deceased relatives, and generally set up shop there for some hours. Meanwhile, they «talk» with the departed, and usually have something resembling a family moment. They offer refreshments and food to passersby in honor of the deceased, and some stop by the mausoleum and offer a prayer on behalf of the deceased relative.

This practice would begin, as I said previously, on November 1, and this was helped because November 1 was a holiday for a long time. (The holiday was removed in 1989 after the fall of the dictator Alfredo Stroessner.)

This might be very colorful, interesting and even fascinating from an anthropological point of view, but to the eyes of God this should look like a blasphemous idolatry and an abomination. As a native Paraguayan, I would be a lot happier if customs such as these would not exist at all among my people. I do respect the Roman Catholic religion, but on this respect the priests and bishops do nothing to steer people clear from idolatry; rather, they use these feasts to reinforce the hold they have on the common people.

The photo depicts some workers cleaning mausoleums in a cemetery of Asunción, getting them ready for this year’s festivities.


  1. You describe an odd flavoring of the more restrained All Saints Day celebration from Church History. Our own American corruption of that is, of course, Halloween.

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  3. Eduardo, send me your e-mail address so that I can include in possibily guest blogging for me while I am gone.

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