SUNDAY, JUNE 10: Pentecostal drapery is replaced with a focus on saintly icons in the Eastern Christian Church today, as the faithful mark All Saints’ Sunday. The Paschal season has ended and, on this day, hymns are dedicated to saints from the Pentecostarion. While most of the well-known saints are venerated on designated days, today spotlights the unknown: local teachers, unidentified martyrs, anonymous confessors and all those, collectively, who honored God through their holy actions and lives. (Get details at Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.)
Orthodox teach that this idea stems from references in the Bible to honoring “God’s friends,” drawing on references fromt he life of King David all the way to the letters of St. Paul. In addition, Orthodox note that the 9th-century Emperor Leo VI elevated the idea. (Wikipedia has more.) Leo got the idea when he was denied permission to build a church for his late (and very faithful) wife. Instead, he did the next best thing—he built an “All Saints” church for all of the faithful, in a group that included his wife. Emperor Leo VI got his wish when his wife was honored each year on the feast of All Saints.