29 October 2020, The Tablet

‘Hallows’ was given a makeover for a younger audience in 2007 in the final Harry Potter novel


‘Hallows’ was given a makeover for a younger audience in 2007 in the final Harry Potter novel
 

In medieval England, All Saints’ Day was known as All Hallows’ Day. We don’t use the word “hallowed” very much except in the Lord’s Prayer; in All Hallows’ Eve, or “Halloween”; and in the formal way we refer to “hallowed ground”, or to a “hallowed institution”. The word was given a makeover for a younger audience in 2007 when the final novel in the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, was published and went on to sell 65 million copies.

J.K. Rowling tells her readers that the three deathly hallows are the Elder Wand, the Resurrection Stone and the Cloak of Invisibility. Whoever owns all three hallows gains mastery over death, and so we start to see the relationship between Rowling’s text and the mystical traditions she has inherited.

All Hallows’ Day sees us celebrate the memory of the holy ones in Heaven with God. The three pathways to being declared a saint are heroic virtue, mysticism and martyrdom. In the last category there are four subdivisions: white martyrdom, where you are persecuted for the faith, but never shed blood; green martyrdom, where you do extreme penance and fasting for the love of God; red martyrdom, where you are killed for the faith; and the most recent category, introduced in 2017 by Pope Francis, a martyr of charity, where you die as a result of putting yourself at risk in the service of others.

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