Assumption of Mary
Overview
 
According to the belief of Christians of the Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

, Eastern Orthodoxy, Oriental Orthodoxy
Oriental Orthodoxy
Oriental Orthodoxy is the faith of those Eastern Christian Churches that recognize only three ecumenical councils — the First Council of Nicaea, the First Council of Constantinople and the First Council of Ephesus. They rejected the dogmatic definitions of the Council of Chalcedon...

, and parts of the Anglican Communion
Anglican Communion
The Anglican Communion is an international association of national and regional Anglican churches in full communion with the Church of England and specifically with its principal primate, the Archbishop of Canterbury...

 and Continuing Anglicanism, the Assumption of Mary was the bodily taking up of the Virgin Mary
Mary (mother of Jesus)
Mary , commonly referred to as "Saint Mary", "Mother Mary", the "Virgin Mary", the "Blessed Virgin Mary", or "Mary, Mother of God", was a Jewish woman of Nazareth in Galilee...

 into Heaven
Heaven
Heaven, the Heavens or Seven Heavens, is a common religious cosmological or metaphysical term for the physical or transcendent place from which heavenly beings originate, are enthroned or inhabit...

 at the end of her life. The Roman Catholic Church teaches as dogma
Dogma (Roman Catholic)
In the Roman Catholic Church, a dogma is an article of faith revealed by God, which the magisterium of the Church presents to be believed. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the basic truth from which salvation and life is derived for Christians. Dogmata regulate the language, how the truth of...

 that the Virgin Mary "having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory." This doctrine was dogmatically and infallibly defined
Dogmatic definition
In Catholicism, a dogmatic definition is an extraordinary infallible statement published by a pope or an ecumenical council concerning a matter of faith or morals, the belief in which the Catholic Church requires of all Christians .The term most often refers to the infallible...

 by Pope Pius XII
Pope Pius XII
The Venerable Pope Pius XII , born Eugenio Maria Giuseppe Giovanni Pacelli , reigned as Pope, head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of Vatican City State, from 2 March 1939 until his death in 1958....

 on November 1, 1950, in his Apostolic Constitution
Apostolic constitution
An apostolic constitution is the highest level of decree issued by the Pope. The use of the term constitution comes from Latin constitutio, which referred to any important law issued by the Roman emperor, and is retained in church documents because of the inheritance that the canon law of the...

 Munificentissimus Deus
Munificentissimus Deus
Munificentissimus Deus is the name of an Apostolic constitution written by Pope Pius XII. It defines ex cathedra the dogma of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It was the first ex-cathedra infallible statement since the official ruling on papal infallibility was made at the First Vatican...

.
Encyclopedia
According to the belief of Christians of the Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

, Eastern Orthodoxy, Oriental Orthodoxy
Oriental Orthodoxy
Oriental Orthodoxy is the faith of those Eastern Christian Churches that recognize only three ecumenical councils — the First Council of Nicaea, the First Council of Constantinople and the First Council of Ephesus. They rejected the dogmatic definitions of the Council of Chalcedon...

, and parts of the Anglican Communion
Anglican Communion
The Anglican Communion is an international association of national and regional Anglican churches in full communion with the Church of England and specifically with its principal primate, the Archbishop of Canterbury...

 and Continuing Anglicanism, the Assumption of Mary was the bodily taking up of the Virgin Mary
Mary (mother of Jesus)
Mary , commonly referred to as "Saint Mary", "Mother Mary", the "Virgin Mary", the "Blessed Virgin Mary", or "Mary, Mother of God", was a Jewish woman of Nazareth in Galilee...

 into Heaven
Heaven
Heaven, the Heavens or Seven Heavens, is a common religious cosmological or metaphysical term for the physical or transcendent place from which heavenly beings originate, are enthroned or inhabit...

 at the end of her life. The Roman Catholic Church teaches as dogma
Dogma (Roman Catholic)
In the Roman Catholic Church, a dogma is an article of faith revealed by God, which the magisterium of the Church presents to be believed. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the basic truth from which salvation and life is derived for Christians. Dogmata regulate the language, how the truth of...

 that the Virgin Mary "having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory." This doctrine was dogmatically and infallibly defined
Dogmatic definition
In Catholicism, a dogmatic definition is an extraordinary infallible statement published by a pope or an ecumenical council concerning a matter of faith or morals, the belief in which the Catholic Church requires of all Christians .The term most often refers to the infallible...

 by Pope Pius XII
Pope Pius XII
The Venerable Pope Pius XII , born Eugenio Maria Giuseppe Giovanni Pacelli , reigned as Pope, head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of Vatican City State, from 2 March 1939 until his death in 1958....

 on November 1, 1950, in his Apostolic Constitution
Apostolic constitution
An apostolic constitution is the highest level of decree issued by the Pope. The use of the term constitution comes from Latin constitutio, which referred to any important law issued by the Roman emperor, and is retained in church documents because of the inheritance that the canon law of the...

 Munificentissimus Deus
Munificentissimus Deus
Munificentissimus Deus is the name of an Apostolic constitution written by Pope Pius XII. It defines ex cathedra the dogma of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It was the first ex-cathedra infallible statement since the official ruling on papal infallibility was made at the First Vatican...

. This belief is known as the Dormition of the Theotokos
Dormition of the Theotokos
The Dormition of the Theotokos is a Great Feast of the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches which commemorates the "falling asleep" or death of the Theotokos , and her bodily resurrection before being taken up into heaven. It is celebrated on August 15 The Dormition...

 by the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches. In the churches which observe it, the Assumption is a major feast day, commonly celebrated on August 15. In many countries it is a Catholic Holy Day of Obligation
Holy Day of Obligation
In the Catholic Church, Holy Days of Obligation or Holidays of Obligation, less commonly called Feasts of Precept, are the days on which, as of the Code of Canon Law states,-Eastern Catholic Churches:...

.

In his August 15, 2004, homily given at Lourdes
Lourdes
Lourdes is a commune in the Hautes-Pyrénées department in the Midi-Pyrénées region in south-western France.Lourdes is a small market town lying in the foothills of the Pyrenees, famous for the Marian apparitions of Our Lady of Lourdes occurred in 1858 to Bernadette Soubirous...

, Pope John Paul II
Pope John Paul II
Blessed Pope John Paul II , born Karol Józef Wojtyła , reigned as Pope of the Catholic Church and Sovereign of Vatican City from 16 October 1978 until his death on 2 April 2005, at of age. His was the second-longest documented pontificate, which lasted ; only Pope Pius IX ...

 quoted John 14:3 as one of the scriptural bases for understanding the dogma of the Assumption of Mary. In this verse, Jesus tells his disciples at the Last Supper
Last Supper
The Last Supper is the final meal that, according to Christian belief, Jesus shared with his Twelve Apostles in Jerusalem before his crucifixion. The Last Supper provides the scriptural basis for the Eucharist, also known as "communion" or "the Lord's Supper".The First Epistle to the Corinthians is...

, "If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and will receive you to myself; that where I am, you may be there also." According to Catholic theology, Mary is the pledge of the fulfillment of Christ's promise.

The feast of the Assumption on August 15 is a public holiday in many countries, including Austria, Belgium, Chile, Ecuador, France, Greece, Lebanon, Italy, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Senegal and Spain . In Eastern Orthodox churches following the Julian Calendar
Julian calendar
The Julian calendar began in 45 BC as a reform of the Roman calendar by Julius Caesar. It was chosen after consultation with the astronomer Sosigenes of Alexandria and was probably designed to approximate the tropical year .The Julian calendar has a regular year of 365 days divided into 12 months...

, the feast day of Assumption of Mary falls on August 28, and is a public holiday in the Republic of Macedonia.

The capital city of Paraguay
Paraguay
Paraguay , officially the Republic of Paraguay , is a landlocked country in South America. It is bordered by Argentina to the south and southwest, Brazil to the east and northeast, and Bolivia to the northwest. Paraguay lies on both banks of the Paraguay River, which runs through the center of the...

 is named Asunción
Asunción
Asunción is the capital and largest city of Paraguay.The "Ciudad de Asunción" is an autonomous capital district not part of any department. The metropolitan area, called Gran Asunción, includes the cities of San Lorenzo, Fernando de la Mora, Lambaré, Luque, Mariano Roque Alonso, Ñemby, San...

 in honour of the Assumption of Mary. It was founded on August 15, 1537, by Juan de Salazar y Espinoza.

History

Although the Assumption (Latin: assūmptiō, "taken up") was only relatively recently defined as infallible
Papal infallibility
Papal infallibility is a dogma of the Catholic Church which states that, by action of the Holy Spirit, the Pope is preserved from even the possibility of error when in his official capacity he solemnly declares or promulgates to the universal Church a dogmatic teaching on faith or morals...

 dogma
Dogma
Dogma is the established belief or doctrine held by a religion, or a particular group or organization. It is authoritative and not to be disputed, doubted, or diverged from, by the practitioners or believers...

 by the Catholic Church, and in spite of a statement by Saint Epiphanius of Salamis in AD 377 that no one knew whether Mary had died or not, apocryphal accounts of the assumption of Mary into heaven have circulated since at least the 4th century. The Catholic Church itself interprets chapter 12 of the Book of Revelation
Book of Revelation
The Book of Revelation is the final book of the New Testament. The title came into usage from the first word of the book in Koine Greek: apokalupsis, meaning "unveiling" or "revelation"...

 as referring to it. The earliest known narrative is the so-called Liber Requiei Mariae (The Book of Mary's Repose), which survives intact only in an Ethiopic
Ge'ez language
Ge'ez is an ancient South Semitic language that developed in the northern region of Ethiopia and southern Eritrea in the Horn of Africa...

 translation. Probably composed by the 4th century, this Christian apocrypha
Apocrypha
The term apocrypha is used with various meanings, including "hidden", "esoteric", "spurious", "of questionable authenticity", ancient Chinese "revealed texts and objects" and "Christian texts that are not canonical"....

l narrative may be as early as the 3rd century. Also quite early are the very different traditions of the "Six Books" Dormition narratives. The earliest versions of this apocryphon are preserved by several Syriac
Syriac language
Syriac is a dialect of Middle Aramaic that was once spoken across much of the Fertile Crescent. Having first appeared as a script in the 1st century AD after being spoken as an unwritten language for five centuries, Classical Syriac became a major literary language throughout the Middle East from...

 manuscripts of the 5th and 6th centuries, although the text itself probably belongs to the 4th century.

Later apocrypha based on these earlier texts include the De Obitu S. Dominae, attributed to St. John, a work probably from around the turn of the 6th century that is a summary of the "Six Books" narrative. The story also appears in De Transitu Virginis, a late 5th century work ascribed to St. Melito of Sardis
Melito of Sardis
Melito of Sardis was the bishop of Sardis near Smyrna in western Anatolia, and a great authority in Early Christianity: Jerome, speaking of the Old Testament canon established by Melito, quotes Tertullian to the effect that he was esteemed a prophet by many of the faithful...

 that presents a theologically redacted summary of the traditions in the Liber Requiei Mariae. The Transitus Mariae tells the story of the apostles being transported by white clouds to the deathbed of Mary, each from the town where he was preaching at the hour.
The Decretum Gelasianum
Decretum Gelasianum
The so-called Decretum Gelasianum or Gelasian Decree was traditionally attributed to the prolific Pope Gelasius I, bishop of Rome 492–496. In surviving manuscripts the Decretal exists on its own and also appended to a list of books of Scripture titled as attested as canonical by a Council of...

in the 490s declared some transitus Mariae literature apocryphal.

An Armenian letter attributed to Dionysus the Areopagite also mentions the event, although this is a much later work, written sometime after the 6th century. John of Damascus
John of Damascus
Saint John of Damascus was a Syrian monk and priest...

, from this period, is the first church authority to advocate the doctrine under his own name; he had been brought up in an environment in which a corporeal ascent of Muhammed into heaven was official policy, since he, and his father before him, held the post of imperial chancellor of the Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

ic empire of the Umayyads, and Muhammed's ascent into heaven is the subject of The Night Journey
Al-Isra
Sura Al-Isra , also called Sura Bani Isra'il , is the 17th chapter of the Qur'an, with 111 verses.-Content:...

, a Surah
Sura
A sura is a division of the Qur'an, often referred to as a chapter. The term chapter is sometimes avoided, as the suras are of unequal length; the shortest sura has only three ayat while the longest contains 286 ayat...

 in the Quran. His contemporaries, Gregory of Tours
Gregory of Tours
Saint Gregory of Tours was a Gallo-Roman historian and Bishop of Tours, which made him a leading prelate of Gaul. He was born Georgius Florentius, later adding the name Gregorius in honour of his maternal great-grandfather...

 and Modestus of Jerusalem
Modestus of Jerusalem
Modestus of Jerusalem was a Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, who is commemorated as a saint by the Orthodox church, on May 17, March 29 or December 17 in the Palestinian-Georgian calendar venerates him or December 16 and October 19 in the Acta Sanctorum.He was born in Cappadocian Sebasteia...

, helped promote the concept to the wider church.
In some versions of the story the event is said to have taken place in Ephesus
Ephesus
Ephesus was an ancient Greek city, and later a major Roman city, on the west coast of Asia Minor, near present-day Selçuk, Izmir Province, Turkey. It was one of the twelve cities of the Ionian League during the Classical Greek era...

, in the House of the Virgin Mary
House of the Virgin Mary
The House of the Virgin Mary is a Christian and Muslim shrine located on Mt...

, although this is a much more recent and localized tradition. The earliest traditions all locate the end of Mary's life in Jerusalem (see "Mary's Tomb
Mary's Tomb
Mary's Tomb is a tomb located in the Kidron Valley, on the foothills of Mount of Olives, near the Church of All Nations and Gethsemane garden, originally just outside Jerusalem...

"). By the 7th century a variation emerged, according to which one of the apostles, often identified as St Thomas, was not present at the death of Mary, but his late arrival precipitates a reopening of Mary's tomb, which is found to be empty except for her grave clothes. In a later tradition, Mary drops her girdle down to the apostle from heaven as testament to the event. This incident is depicted in many later paintings of the Assumption.

The taking of Mary into Heaven became an established teaching across the Eastern, Western, Coptic and Oriental churches from at least the late 7th Century, the festival date settling at August 15. Theological debate about the Assumption continued, following the Reformation, climaxing in 1950 when Pope Pius XII defined it as dogma for the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church has not claimed that this doctrine is founded on the apocryphal accounts as having any authority, nor that the church bases its teaching about the Assumption on them, but rather on the historic teaching of the Church down the centuries, the scholastic arguments in favor of it, and its interpretations of biblical sources. However, Protestant theologians reject such arguments as semantics; that apocryphal accounts did in fact become the basis for such church teachings, which were then set forth as dogma. They cite the fact that the idea did not gain acceptance in the church until the sixth century, after Gregory of Tours accepted the apocryphal work "Transitus Beatae Mariae". Catholic theologian Ludwig Ott
Ludwig Ott
Ludwig Ott was a Catholic theologian and Medievalist from Bavaria....

 stated, "The idea of the bodily assumption of Mary is first expressed in certain transitus-narratives of the fifth and sixth centuries.... The first Church author to speak of the bodily assumption of Mary, in association with an apocryphal transitus B.M.V., is St. Gregory of Tours." The Catholic writer Eamon Duffy goes further, conceding that "there is, clearly, no historical evidence whatever for it.". However, the Catholic Church has never asserted nor denied that its teaching is based on the apocryphal accounts. The Church documents are silent on this matter and instead rely upon other sources and arguments as the basis for the doctrine.

Catholic teaching

In this dogmatic statement, the phrase "having completed the course of her earthly life," leaves open the question of whether the Virgin Mary died before her assumption or whether she was assumed before death; both possibilities are allowed. Mary's assumption is said to have been a divine gift to her as the 'Mother of God'. Ludwig Ott's view is that, as Mary completed her life as a shining example to the human race, the perspective of the gift of assumption is offered to the whole human race.

In Ludwig Ott's Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma he states that "the fact of her death is almost generally accepted by the Fathers and Theologians, and is expressly affirmed in the Liturgy of the Church", to which he adduces a number of helpful citations, and concludes that "for Mary, death, in consequence of her freedom from original sin
Original sin
Original sin is, according to a Christian theological doctrine, humanity's state of sin resulting from the Fall of Man. This condition has been characterized in many ways, ranging from something as insignificant as a slight deficiency, or a tendency toward sin yet without collective guilt, referred...

 and from personal sin, was not a consequence of punishment of sin. However, it seems fitting that Mary's body, which was by nature mortal, should be, in conformity with that of her Divine Son
Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

, subject to the general law of death". The point of her bodily death has not been infallibly defined, and many believe that she did not die at all, but was assumed directly into Heaven. The dogmatic definition within the Apostolic Constitution Munificentissimus Deus
Munificentissimus Deus
Munificentissimus Deus is the name of an Apostolic constitution written by Pope Pius XII. It defines ex cathedra the dogma of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It was the first ex-cathedra infallible statement since the official ruling on papal infallibility was made at the First Vatican...

 which, according to Roman Catholic dogma, infallibly proclaims the doctrine of the Assumption leaves open the question whether, in connection with her departure, Mary underwent bodily death; that is, it does not dogmatically define the point one way or the other, as shown by the words "having completed the course of her earthly life".

On November 1, 1950, Pope Pius XII
Pope Pius XII
The Venerable Pope Pius XII , born Eugenio Maria Giuseppe Giovanni Pacelli , reigned as Pope, head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of Vatican City State, from 2 March 1939 until his death in 1958....

 solemnly declared:
By the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own authority, we pronounce, declare, and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma: that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory


Roman Catholic theologians consider this declaration by Pius XII to be an ex cathedra
Ex Cathedra
Ex Cathedra is a British choir and early music ensemble based in Birmingham in the West Midlands, England. It performs choral music spanning the 15th to 21st centuries, and regularly commissions new works....

 use of Papal Infallibility. Although Pope Pius XII deliberately left open the question of whether Mary died before her Assumption, the more common teaching of the early Fathers is that she did die.

Mary's heavenly birthday

The Assumption is important to many Catholic and Orthodox Christians as the Virgin Mary's heavenly birthday (the day that Mary was received into Heaven). Her acceptance into the glory of Heaven is seen by them as the symbol of the promise made by Jesus to all enduring Christians that they too will be received into paradise. The Assumption of Mary is symbolised in the Fleur-de-lys Madonna.

The present Italian name of the holiday, "Ferragosto", may derive from the Latin name, Feriae Augusti ("Holidays of the Emperor Augustus"), since the month of August took its name from the emperor. The Solemnity of the Assumption on August 15 was celebrated in the eastern Church from the 6th Century. The Catholic Church adopted this date as a Holy Day of Obligation
Holy Day of Obligation
In the Catholic Church, Holy Days of Obligation or Holidays of Obligation, less commonly called Feasts of Precept, are the days on which, as of the Code of Canon Law states,-Eastern Catholic Churches:...

 to commemorate the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the real physical elevation of her sinless soul and incorrupt body into Heaven.

The Solemnity of the Assumption on August 15 is a public holiday in many countries, including Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chile, Republic of Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Croatia, Colombia, Cyprus, East Timor, France, Gabon, Greece, Republic of Guinea, Haiti, Italy, Lebanon, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Republic of Macedonia, Madagascar, Malta, Mauritius, Republic of Moldova, Monaco, Paraguay, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Rwanda, Senegal, Seychelles, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Tahiti, Togo, and Vanuatu. It is also a holiday in some predominantly Catholic states of Germany, including Bavaria
Bavaria
Bavaria, formally the Free State of Bavaria is a state of Germany, located in the southeast of Germany. With an area of , it is the largest state by area, forming almost 20% of the total land area of Germany...

 and Saarland
Saarland
Saarland is one of the sixteen states of Germany. The capital is Saarbrücken. It has an area of 2570 km² and 1,045,000 inhabitants. In both area and population, it is the smallest state in Germany other than the city-states...

. In Guatemala it is observed in Guatemala City
Guatemala City
Guatemala City , is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Guatemala and Central America...

 and in the town of Santa Maria Nebaj
Santa Maria Nebaj
Santa Maria Nebaj is a municipality in the Guatemalan department of El Quiché. Santa Maria Nebaj is part of the Ixil Community, along with San Juan Cotzal and San Gaspar Chajul. Native residents speak the Mayan Ixil language.There is a nearby pre-Columbian archaeological site of the Maya...

, both of which claim her as their patron saint
Patron saint
A patron saint is a saint who is regarded as the intercessor and advocate in heaven of a nation, place, craft, activity, class, clan, family, or person...

. Also, this day is combined with Mother's Day
Mother's Day
Mother's Day is a celebration honoring mothers and celebrating motherhood, maternal bonds, and the influence of mothers in society. It is celebrated on various days in many parts of the world, yet most commonly in March, April, or May...

 in Costa Rica. In many places, religious parades and popular festivals are held to celebrate this day. Prominent Catholic and Orthodox countries in which Assumption day is an important festival but is not recognized by the state as a public holiday include Argentina, Brazil, Czech Republic, Ireland, Mexico, the Philippines and Russia. In Canada, Assumption Day is the Fête Nationale of the Acadian
Acadian
The Acadians are the descendants of the 17th-century French colonists who settled in Acadia . Acadia was a colony of New France...

s, of whom she is the patron saint. Businesses close on that day in heavily francophone parts of New Brunswick
New Brunswick
New Brunswick is one of Canada's three Maritime provinces and is the only province in the federation that is constitutionally bilingual . The provincial capital is Fredericton and Saint John is the most populous city. Greater Moncton is the largest Census Metropolitan Area...

, Canada. The Virgin Assumed in Heaven is also patroness of the Maltese Islands and her feast, celebrated on 15 August, apart from being a public holiday in Malta is also celebrated with great solemnity in all the local churches especially in the seven localities known as the Seba' Santa Marijiet. In Anglicanism
Anglicanism
Anglicanism is a tradition within Christianity comprising churches with historical connections to the Church of England or similar beliefs, worship and church structures. The word Anglican originates in ecclesia anglicana, a medieval Latin phrase dating to at least 1246 that means the English...

 and Lutheranism
Lutheranism
Lutheranism is a major branch of Western Christianity that identifies with the theology of Martin Luther, a German reformer. Luther's efforts to reform the theology and practice of the church launched the Protestant Reformation...

, the feast is kept, but without official use of the word "Assumption".

Assumption and Dormition (Eastern Christianity) compared

The Catholic Feast of the Assumption is celebrated on August 15, and the Eastern Orthodox
Eastern Orthodox Church
The Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church and commonly referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church, is the second largest Christian denomination in the world, with an estimated 300 million adherents mainly in the countries of Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece,...

 and Eastern Catholics celebrate the Dormition of the Theotokos
Dormition of the Theotokos
The Dormition of the Theotokos is a Great Feast of the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches which commemorates the "falling asleep" or death of the Theotokos , and her bodily resurrection before being taken up into heaven. It is celebrated on August 15 The Dormition...

 (the falling asleep of the Mother of God) on the same date, preceded by a 14-day fast
Fasting
Fasting is primarily the act of willingly abstaining from some or all food, drink, or both, for a period of time. An absolute fast is normally defined as abstinence from all food and liquid for a defined period, usually a single day , or several days. Other fasts may be only partially restrictive,...

 period. Eastern Orthodox Christians believe that Mary died a natural death, that her soul was received by Christ upon death, and that her body was resurrected on the third day after her death and that she was taken up into heaven bodily in anticipation of the general resurrection
Resurrection
Resurrection refers to the literal coming back to life of the biologically dead. It is used both with respect to particular individuals or the belief in a General Resurrection of the dead at the end of the world. The General Resurrection is featured prominently in Jewish, Christian, and Muslim...

. Her tomb was found empty on the third day. "...Orthodox tradition is clear and unwavering in regard to the central point [of the Dormition]: the Holy Virgin underwent, as did her Son, a physical death, but her body – like His – was afterwards raised from the dead and she was taken up into heaven, in her body as well as in her soul. She has passed beyond death and judgement, and lives wholly in the Age to Come. The Resurrection of the Body ... has in her case been anticipated and is already an accomplished fact. That does not mean, however, that she is dissociated from the rest of humanity and placed in a wholly different category: for we all hope to share one day in that same glory of the Resurrection of the Body which she enjoys even now."

Many Catholics also believe that Mary first died before being assumed, but they add that she was miraculously resurrected before being assumed, while others believe she was assumed bodily into Heaven without first passing through death. As mentioned earlier, this aspect of the Assumption is not authoritatively defined in Catholic theology, and either understanding may be legitimately held by Catholics. Eastern Catholics observe the Feast as the Dormition. Many theologians note by way of comparison that in the Catholic Church, the Assumption is dogmatically defined, while in the Eastern Orthodox tradition, the Dormition is less dogmatically than liturgically and mystically defined. Such differences spring from a larger pattern in the two traditions, wherein Catholic teachings are often dogmatically and authoritatively defined – in part because of the more centralized structure of the Catholic Church– while in Eastern Orthodoxy, many doctrines are less authoritative.

Assumption in Protestantism

The Protestant Reformer Heinrich Bullinger
Heinrich Bullinger
Heinrich Bullinger was a Swiss reformer, the successor of Huldrych Zwingli as head of the Zurich church and pastor at Grossmünster...

 believed in the assumption of Mary. His 1539 polemical treatise against idolatry expressed his belief that Mary's "sacrosanctum corpus" ("sacrosanct body") had been assumed into heaven by angels:

Hac causa credimus ut Deiparae virginis Mariae purissimum thalamum et spiritus sancti templum, hoc est, sacrosanctum corpus ejus deportatum esse ab angelis in coelum.


For this reason we believe that the Virgin Mary, Begetter of God, the most pure bed and temple of the Holy Spirit, that is, her most holy body, was carried to heaven by angels.

However, most Protestants, historically and today, see no basis biblically or historically for the doctrine of the Assumption of Mary. Therefore, most Protestants do not accept it and do not teach it. The high regard that they hold for Mary as the mother of Jesus does not imply that she had a sinless entrance into this world nor a miraculous exit from it. Mary will always hold a special place in history that is undeniable for her obedience and humility in accepting God's will to be woman to give birth to Jesus, the Savior and Second Person of the Trinity or Godhead, but they see a danger in attempting to embellish her life beyond what Scripture actually teaches.

Assumption in Anglicanism

Although the Assumption of Mary is not an Anglican doctrine, 15 August is observed by some within Anglicanism as a feast day in honour of Mary. The Common Prayer Books
Book of Common Prayer
The Book of Common Prayer is the short title of a number of related prayer books used in the Anglican Communion, as well as by the Continuing Anglican, "Anglican realignment" and other Anglican churches. The original book, published in 1549 , in the reign of Edward VI, was a product of the English...

 of the Scottish Episcopal Church
Scottish Episcopal Church
The Scottish Episcopal Church is a Christian church in Scotland, consisting of seven dioceses. Since the 17th century, it has had an identity distinct from the presbyterian Church of Scotland....

 and the Anglican Church of Canada
Anglican Church of Canada
The Anglican Church of Canada is the Province of the Anglican Communion in Canada. The official French name is l'Église Anglicane du Canada. The ACC is the third largest church in Canada after the Roman Catholic Church and the United Church of Canada, consisting of 800,000 registered members...

 mark the date as the Falling Asleep of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In the Episcopal Church in the United States of America, the day is observed as the Holy Day of Saint Mary the Virgin. In the Church of England
Church of England
The Church of England is the officially established Christian church in England and the Mother Church of the worldwide Anglican Communion. The church considers itself within the tradition of Western Christianity and dates its formal establishment principally to the mission to England by St...

 the day is a Festival
Festival (Church of England)
A Festival is a type of observance in the Churches of the Anglican Communion, considered to be less significant than a Principal Feast or Principal Holy Day, but more significant than a Lesser Festival or Commemoration...

 of the Blessed Virgin Mary
. In some churches of the Anglican Communion
Anglican Communion
The Anglican Communion is an international association of national and regional Anglican churches in full communion with the Church of England and specifically with its principal primate, the Archbishop of Canterbury...

 and the Continuing Anglican churches, many Anglo-Catholics often observe the feast day as the "Assumption of Mary".

The Anglican-Roman Catholic agreed statement on the Virgin Mary assigns a place for both the Dormition and the Assumption in Anglican devotion.

Scriptural sources

As mentioned, recent papal scholarship has cited John 14:3 as evidence of the Assumption in principle if not formally. Near the end of a review of the doctrine's history – a review which serves as the bulk of Munificentissimus Deus
Munificentissimus Deus
Munificentissimus Deus is the name of an Apostolic constitution written by Pope Pius XII. It defines ex cathedra the dogma of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It was the first ex-cathedra infallible statement since the official ruling on papal infallibility was made at the First Vatican...

 – Pope Pius XII
Pope Pius XII
The Venerable Pope Pius XII , born Eugenio Maria Giuseppe Giovanni Pacelli , reigned as Pope, head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of Vatican City State, from 2 March 1939 until his death in 1958....

 tells us: "All these proofs and considerations of the holy Fathers and the theologians are based upon the Sacred Writings as their ultimate foundation." Precedent to this, he cites many passages that have been offered in support of this teaching:

29. ...the holy writers...employed statements and various images and analogies of Sacred Scripture to Illustrate and to confirm the doctrine of the Assumption, which was piously believed... On the feast day of the Assumption, while explaining the prophet's words: "I will glorify the place of my feet," [Isaiah 60:13] he [i.e. St. Anthony of Padua] stated it as certain that the divine Redeemer had bedecked with supreme glory his most beloved Mother from whom he had received human flesh. He asserts that "you have here a clear statement that the Blessed Virgin has been assumed in her body, where was the place of the Lord's feet..."

30. ...St. Albert the Great... in a sermon which he delivered on the sacred day of the Blessed Virgin Mary's annunciation, explained the words "Hail, full of grace" [Luke 1:28]-words used by the angel who addressed her-the Universal Doctor, comparing the Blessed Virgin with Eve, stated clearly and incisively that she was exempted from the fourfold curse that had been laid upon Eve [cf. Genesis 3:16]...

32. Along with many others, the Seraphic Doctor held the same views. He considered it as entirely certain that...God...would never have permitted her body to have been resolved into dust and ashes. Explaining these words of Sacred Scripture: "Who is this that comes up from the desert, flowing with delights, leaning upon her beloved?" [Song of Songs 8:5] and applying them in a kind of accommodated sense to the Blessed Virgin, he reasons thus: "From this we can see that she is there bodily...her blessedness would not have been complete unless she were there as a person. The soul is not a person, but the soul, joined to the body, is a person. It is manifest that she is there in soul and in body. Otherwise she would not possess her complete beatitude. ...


The Pope also cites, significantly in paragraph 39, 1st Corinthians 15, where we read (vv. 21–26):

For by a man came death, and by a man the resurrection of the dead. And as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive. But every one in his own order: the firstfruits Christ, then they that are of Christ, who have believed in his coming. Afterwards the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God and the Father, when he shall have brought to nought all principality, and power, and virtue. For he must reign, until he hath put all his enemies under his feet. And the enemy death shall be destroyed last: For he hath put all things under his feet.


In this passage Paul alludes to Genesis 3:15 (in addition to the primary reference of Psalms 8:6), where it is prophesied that the seed of the woman
Seed of the woman
The seed of the woman or offspring of the woman is a concept, drawn from Genesis 3:15, which is viewed differently in Judaism and Christianity...

 will crush Satan with his feet. Since, then, Jesus arose to Heaven to fulfill this prophecy, it follows that the woman would have a similar end, since she shared this enmity with Satan. The pope comments thus in paragraph 39:


...although subject to [Jesus, who is] the new Adam, [Mary, the new Eve] is most intimately associated with him in that struggle against the infernal foe which, as foretold in the protoevangelium [i.e. Genesis 3:15], would finally result in that most complete victory over the sin and death which are always mentioned together in the writings of the Apostle of the Gentiles. Consequently, just as the glorious resurrection of Jesus
Resurrection of Jesus
The Christian belief in the resurrection of Jesus states that Jesus returned to bodily life on the third day following his death by crucifixion. It is a key element of Christian faith and theology and part of the Nicene Creed: "On the third day he rose again in fulfillment of the Scriptures"...

 was an essential part and the final sign of this victory, so that struggle which was common to the Blessed Virgin and her divine Son should be brought to a close by the glorification of her virginal body, for the same Apostle says: "When this mortal thing hath put on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: Death is swallowed up in victory."


The pope also mentions (in paragraph 26) Psalms 132, a liturgical psalm commemorating the return of the Ark of God to Jerusalem and lamenting its subsequent loss. The second half of the psalm says that the loss will be recompensed in the New Covenant, and so it is hopefully prayed, "Arise, O Lord, into thy resting place: thou and the ark, which thou hast sanctified" (v. 8). Since the Church sees this New Covenant ark in Mary, it understands that she was taken into Heaven in the same manner as the Lord – that is, body and soul.

In the same paragraph, the pope mentions also Psalms 45:9–17 for support of a heavenly Queen present bodily with the heavenly King Jesus, and Song of Songs 3:6, 4:8, and 6:9, which speaks of David's lover "that goeth up by the desert, as a pillar of smoke of aromatical spices, of myrrh, and frankincense, and of all the powders of the perfumer". Regarding the Marian interpretations of those passages from Psalms 132 to Song of Songs 6:9 and those in between, the pope did, however, consider them "rather free in their use of events and expressions taken from Sacred Scripture" (paragraph 26).

Finally, he mentions in the next paragraph "that woman clothed with the sun [Revelation 12:1–2] whom John the Apostle contemplated on the Island of Patmos" as support for the doctrine. The text seems to parallel this woman with the woman of the Genesis 3 prophecy (and hence Mary): for in verse 9 the passage recalls "that old serpent" of Genesis 3, and reflects the prophecy that God would place "enmities between thee [i.e. Satan] and the woman, and thy seed and her seed" when it says that Satan "was angry against the woman: and went to make war with the rest of her seed" (Rev. 12:17).

All these passages – viz., John 14:3, Isaiah 60:13, Luke 1:28, Song of Songs 8:5, 1st Corinthians 15:21–26, Psalms 132:8, Psalms 45:9–17, Song of Songs 3:6, 4:8, 6:9, Genesis 3:15, and Revelation 12:1–2 – are drawn upon as Scriptural support of the Assumption both in that original document, and today by Catholic apologists.

Judeo-Christian traditions


Jean Danielou in his classical study of Jewish Christian theology noted in reference to state of the blessed dead before the resurrection on the last day that "there is . . . and exception to this waiting of the just before they enter into blessedness; in some cases their entrance is put forward. This seems to be a strictly Jewish Christian teaching. In the Ascension of Isaiah
Ascension of Isaiah
The book Ascension of Isaiah is one of the Pseudepigrapha. Theories as to the date of its composition place it in a range from the late 1st century AD to the second half of the 2nd century AD...

 the visionary sees 'holy Abel and Enoch" already in the seventh heaven (IX, 8-9), and with their raiment of glory (IX, 9), that is to say, they have been brought to life. Resurrection is in fact a necessary condition for entry into this place. II Enoch shows the ascension of Enoch as a final entry into the highest heaven, which is the place of ultimate blessedness (LXVII, 2), whereas I Enoch only knows of a temporary ascension. Irenaeus
Irenaeus
Saint Irenaeus , was Bishop of Lugdunum in Gaul, then a part of the Roman Empire . He was an early church father and apologist, and his writings were formative in the early development of Christian theology...

 ascribes the former doctrine to the Elders. say that those who have been translated are taken to Paradise, and remain there until the final consummation of all things, being the first to enter upon incorruption' (Adv.Haer.V,5:1)." Danielou concludes "There is a clear distinction between the exceptional state of those who are already restored to life, and the common condition of the souls of the righteous, who wait in Sheol for the resurrection, but in a happy region of that place." Danielou also noted in his study that when the original Jewish Christian community of Jerusalem was dispersed after 70 A.D., the majority of this community established itself in Syria, becoming a major influence of the development of the Syrian Christian traditions, the very area where we later first find references to the such a similar translation of the Virgin Mary to the state of ultimate blessedness.


According to some ancient Judeo-Christian traditions, 206 days (i.e., seven months) after Mary's death and burial, Jesus appeared in the Merkabah
Merkabah
Merkabah is the throne-chariot of God, the four-wheeled vehicle driven by four "chayot" , each of which has four wings and the four faces of a man, lion, ox, and eagle...

 with the soul of his Mother and calls out to her body which leaves her tomb and ascends to embrace her own soul in the Merkabah. These accounts are closely associated with Mary's role as the intercessor for the souls of the dead (i.e., just as Christ entered the realm of the dead to redeem them from death, Mary entered the realm of the dead and then like him leaves it in order to become the heavenly intercessor for those still dead.)

See also

  • Assumption Cathedral
    Assumption Cathedral
    Assumption Cathedral or Dormition Cathedral may refer to a number of Cathedral churches consecrated to the Dormition of the Theotokos in the Orthodox tradition and Assumption of Mary in the Roman Catholic tradition:*The Dormition Cathedral, Vladimir, aka Assumption Cathedral in Vladimir...

  • Black Madonna of Częstochowa
    Black Madonna of Czestochowa
    The Black Madonna of Częstochowa is a revered icon of the Virgin Mary housed at the Jasna Góra Monastery in Częstochowa, Poland.-The icon:The origins of the icon and the date of its composition are still hotly contested among scholars...

  • Dormition of the Theotokos
    Dormition of the Theotokos
    The Dormition of the Theotokos is a Great Feast of the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches which commemorates the "falling asleep" or death of the Theotokos , and her bodily resurrection before being taken up into heaven. It is celebrated on August 15 The Dormition...

  • Holy Trinity
  • Virgin of Candelaria
    Virgin of Candelaria
    The cult of the Virgin of Candelaria or Our Lady of Candelaria , popularly called La Morenita, celebrates an apparition of the Virgin Mary on the island of Tenerife, one of the Canary Islands . The center of worship is located in the city of Candelaria in Tenerife. She is depicted as a Black Madonna...

     (Saint Patron of the Canary Islands
    Canary Islands
    The Canary Islands , also known as the Canaries , is a Spanish archipelago located just off the northwest coast of mainland Africa, 100 km west of the border between Morocco and the Western Sahara. The Canaries are a Spanish autonomous community and an outermost region of the European Union...

    ).

External links

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