COLUMBIA — The mood was festive at Friday morning Mass at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish.
The jazzy notes of "When the Saints Go Marching In," played by members from the local band the Storyville Stoppers, filled the church as the third-graders of Columbia Catholic School solemnly processed down the aisles, dressed as saints in celebration of All Saints' Day.
Multiple girls wore the traditional light-blue of Mary, some students were dressed in brown robes with felt beards attached to their faces, while others were dressed in the knightly armor of St. Michael, wings included.
The Catholic Church celebrates All Saints' Dayon Nov. 1. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, All Saints' Day is a day "to honor all the saints, known and unknown and...to supply any deficiencies in the faithful's celebration of saints' feasts during the year."
Steve Kuhlmann, pastor of Sacred Heart Catholic Church, said that it's important to remember the saints, both canonized and unknown, on All Saints' Day.
"It's important to really honor those that have been an example in the church. ... It's like our hall-of-fame day. There are some saints that we do not celebrate because there are so many of them, so this is a time to celebrate all those saints that we don't celebrate," Kuhlmann said.
At Columbia Catholic School, the third-grade class has been busy learning about the saints. Each student chose a saint to research and created a report featuring a hand-drawn picture and short paragraph to decorate Flanagan Hall for All Saints' Day. The third graders also dressed as their saint for Friday morning Mass, which was followed by a "wax museum" presentation.
For the wax museum, the children, dressed in their saintly garb, were stationed throughout Flanagan Hall, posing like statues until someone approached them to push their "button" — a gold cross sticker. Once a "button" was pressed, the student would recite a short biography of the saint. The parents of these students as well as the other grades at Columbia Catholic School attended the wax museum.
Zach Schachtner, who was dressed as St. Pope Zachary in red papal garments, complete with a mitre, said that his favorite part of learning about the saints was dressing up.
"It's important to learn about the saints because we need to know about them to know what to do to become a saint," Schachtner said.
Sherri Bacon, Kathy Coulson and Angela Lawler, third-grade teachers at Columbia Catholic School, all said that learning about the saints is an important part of a Catholic education because their lives are important examples for the students.
"We are a Catholic school and so our focus is on our Catholic identity and our faith, and saints are an important part of our faith," Lawler said. "They are people who intercede for us."
Coulson said: "Many of the saints were holy throughout their lives, but there are also many of them that weren't holy in their youths who had a point where they turned around and turned to God, and it's very important for the kids to know that everyone is called to be a saint."
Sherri Bacon, who was dressed as a nun for the festivities on Friday morning, said "We're learning about the canonized saints, the named saints of our church, but we are teaching them as well that in our daily lives to strive to be spiritually holy is a big part of the communion of saints."
William Chase Jeffrey, who was dressed as St. William, said that he learned a lot from researching the saints. He said that he wants to be like his saint.
"He's inspiring because he had a vision of Christ and healed a blind person," he said.
"Some saints are inspiring, and they make you want to be like them," Jeffrey said. "They teach us to live a holy life and to do the right thing."
Allie Love, who was dressed as St. Rose of Lima, the first American to be canonized, said that learning about St. Rose of Lima has taught her an important lesson.
"She doesn't care about looks and she's against vanity and she has taught me not to care about how I look," she said.
Annika Jurcyzk, who was dressed in the light-blue of St. Mary, the mother of Jesus, said that the saints are important because "they can teach us to love God and to pray."
Rose Brendel, who was dressed as St. Mary Magdelene, said that she enjoys learning about saints.
"They tell us more about what happened a long time ago and they teach us more about God and Jesus."