The Assumption of Our Blessed Lady.

May I begin by wishing all visitors to Catholicism Pure and Simple a Happy Feast. Along with the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (December 8th), today is one of the most important feasts of Our Blessed Lady in the Church calendar.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us ‘Finally the Immaculate Virgin, preserved free from all stain of original sin, when the course of her earthly life was finished, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, so that she might be the more fully conformed to her Son, the Lord of lords and conqueror of sin and death. The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin is a singular participation in her Son’s Resurrection and an anticipation of the resurrection of other Christians:

In giving birth you kept your virginity, in your Dormition you did not leave the world, O Mother of God, but were joined to the source of Life. You conceived the living God, and, by your prayers, will deliver  our souls from death.

The assumption of the Virgin Francesco BotticiniHistorically, we can go back to the building of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem about 336AD. when the memories of the life of Our Lord began to be publicly celebrated by the people. One of the memories about Our Blessed Lady centred around the ‘Tomb of Mary’ close to Mount Zion where an early Christian community had been established.

On the hill itself was reputed to have been the ‘Place of Dormition’ – the spot where Mary had died, and the ‘Tomb of Mary’ was where she was buried. At this time the ‘Memory of Mary’ was being celebrated. This would become the Feast of the Assumption.

For many years this ‘Memory of Mary was celebrated mainly in Palestine, but became extended to all the Churches of the East by the 7th century. By the time the celebration reached Rome it became the ‘Falling Asleep’ (Dormitio) of the Mother of God. The name was soon changed to the ‘Assumption of Mary’ – since there was more to the feast than her dying. It also proclaimed that she had been taken up, body and soul, into heaven. This belief was ancient, dating back to the apostles themselves. There were no relics of Mary to be venerated – and an empty tomb stood on the edge of Jerusalem. Today the Benedictine Abbey of the Dormition of Mary stands on the spot.

In 1950, in the Apostolic Constitution ‘Munificentissimus Deus’ Pope Pius XII proclaimed the Assumption of Mary, a dogma of the Catholic Church in these words “The Immaculate Mother of God, the ever-virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heaven”

With this, an ancient belief became Catholic doctrine and the Assumption was declared a truth revealed by God.

Today we celebrate this Feast of Our Blessed Lady and look to our own relationship with God, and to the hope that we too will follow Our Lady when our life is ended.


About Gertrude

Sáncte Míchael Archángele, defénde nos in proélio, cóntra nequítiam et insídias diáboli ésto præsídium.
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28 Responses to The Assumption of Our Blessed Lady.

  1. mmvc says:

    Happy Feast to you too, dear Gertrude, and thank you for this lovely post.

    Our Lady, whose earthly life ended so perfectly, will surely assist us when our lives come to an end. Each of our “Hail Mary” prayers is an appeal to her for this. I also love this prayer by John Henry Newman:

    “Let Thy Mother Mary come to me, and my angel whisper peace to me, and Thy glorious saints and my own dear patrons smile on me, that in and through them all I may die as I desire to live, in Thy Church, in Thy faith, and in Thy love.”


  2. toadspittle says:

    We are to believe then, that Mary is ‘up’ in Heaven complete with body. Anyone else ‘up there’ with a body? She will have nobody to talk to…



  3. leftfooter says:

    Dear toadspittle,
    Jesus is in Heaven, Body and Soul. It seems Elijah, as well.


  4. shieldsheafson says:

    We should also exend our expression of good will to our brothers and sisters of the Orthodox Rite who share this Feast on this day especially in those lands where Christians are still persecuted.

    Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary,
    that never was it known that anyone who fled to your protection,
    implored your help or sought your intercession,
    was left unaided.
    Inspired with this confidence,
    I fly to you, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother;
    to you do I come, before you I stand, sinful and sorrowful.

    O Mother of the Word Incarnate,
    despise not my petitions,
    but in your mercy hear and answer me.



  5. Gertrude says:

    shieldsheafson: The Memorare is one of the most beautiful prayers, as far as I am concerned, in the whole world! It is a prayer that I use almost daily. Thankyou for sharing it with us on the special feast of Our Blessed Lady.
    We should also remember the persecuted Church throughout the world. In this context I would ask you all to remember in your prayers, Aid to the Church In Need – who work tirelessly for the suffering Church in various parts of the world.


  6. toadspittle says:

    This is indeed interesting, Gertrude.

    For ‘many’ years, you say, the Virgin was presumed to be buried in a very specific place near Mount Zion.
    I did not know this. Fascinating.
    For how many years was this believed, and how long ago did the notion change?
    And why? And what persuaded people that they were wrong about the original concept?
    And on what evidence?

    I gather it is now obligatory to believe the ‘new’ agenda. Was it also originally required to believe the burial idea?

    Questions, questions…


  7. johnhenrycn says:


    And Enoch, too 😉


  8. johnhenrycn says:

    The last home of the Blessed Virgin Mary near Ephesus:


  9. Gertrude says:

    The truth, as far as I understand Toad, is that we do not know. Much of Our Lady’s life was handed down by oral tradition, and very little is recorded. The points mentioned above are verifiable, but whilst they are verifiable, an equal amount is tradition culminating in the Papal Decree of 1950. There are other tales of Our Lady having accompanied St. Paul to Ephesus after the Crucifixion.
    I am not sure what you mean by ‘new agenda’?
    One of the earliest depictions of Our Lady Queen of Heaven appears in Rome, in the Catacombes.
    Not sure what you mean by the ‘burial idea’ either. Burial was the accepted funerary rite at the time of Our Blessed Lord, and yet we believe that He ascended to Heaven. This though is well documented in the Gospels.


  10. annem040359 says:

    May this day which honors Mary’s assumption give us both a hope and a reminder of a greater and better home.


  11. toadspittle says:


    By ‘new agenda’ I meant the idea that she did not die at all, but was carried ‘up’ alive to Heaven. From your story I now gather, that for a long time she was considered as dead as everyone else (apart from Jesus). I meant that as being the ‘old’ agenda.

    Were people back then (whenever that was, we don’t apparently know), bound by faith to believe she had died, whereas now they are bound by faith to believe that she didn’t? (If I understand it correctly.)
    What made them change their minds?
    How can the ‘points mentioned’ be verified? Is it even important to Catholics to verify them?

    Any idea how old she was when she was carried ‘up?’

    More questions.


  12. Gertrude says:

    I’m afraid the answer to whether Our Blessed Lady died, or was Assumed into Heaven – we just don’t know. No minds were changed. When Pius XII made his declaration ‘Munificentissumus Deus,’ belief and tradition became Dogma hence this Feast that we celebrate today. Many imponderables I agree for some-one who might not share the faith of Holy Church!
    Regarding verifiability, that there was a tomb – yes, that it is believed to have been the place where the Blessed Virgin lived and died – yes. The archaeology of the Holy places is constantly being revised, verified or discarded as we become more technologically advanced in the methods we employ. For example, when I was a Research student, we didn’t have computers, global positioning satelites and all the many tools a Mediaeval historian can now use! Might have got my degrees a bit quicker if we had!!


  13. johnhenrycn says:

    I posted two comments more than an hour ago. Why have they never shown up?


  14. Gertrude says:

    I’m sorry JohnHenry. I don’t know why but I will try to find out.


  15. Gertrude says:

    I think that they have now appeared! Thanks for the Ephesus link. I had mentioned it, but your comment wasn’t showing at the time.


  16. leftfooter says:

    Thanks, johnhenrycn. I had forgotten Enoch


  17. joyfulpapist says:

    Toad, there are two versions of the tradition – one that she died and was then assumed into heaven; one that she was assumed into heaven without dying.

    Whether or not the tomb on Mt Zion ever had her body in it, it has been empty since it first came to the notice of history.

    There is a rather charming story (pictured above) that tells of the word going out to all the apostles, who gathered to say their last farewells. All arrived in time by St Thomas, who, arriving after the funeral, still wanted to see her and say goodbye one last time. After much discussion, they opened the tomb – and found it empty, and in the place of the body, a profusion of roses.


  18. johnhenrycn says:

    Here’s an interesting 2008 article about the House of Mary (Ephesus) from the New Oxford Review. I’m not sure if the entire article will appear, because there may be a block for non-subscribers, but I don’t think so, because I am allowed to e-mail it:


  19. johnhenrycn says:

    Looks like it worked. Glad I’m not considered spam anymore 🙂


  20. In the encyclical of Pius XII, by inserting the phrase “ever virgin” made her perpetual virginity a dogma as well.

    Speaking of her death, we do not say Mary “died.” We use the term “dormition” which means sleep. The reason being, death presumes an uncertainty as to where a soul is destined after the body expires. In Mary’s case, she was assumed with certainty, body and soul, into heaven. She had to have been, by definition, because she was born without the mark of original sin. She was/is, for that reason, not subject to the bondage of death. Anyone who understands Pauline theology would see the Assumption as a theological necessity, since Mary was not subject to sin.


  21. toadspittle says:

    “May this day which honors Mary’s assumption give us both a hope and a reminder of a greater and better home.””

    Says annem040359. (what a complicated name!) May we call you annem04035 for short?)

    Beautifully put. But let us also pray we do not get stuck with a bigger mortgage than we can afford!


  22. joyfulpapist says:

    The price is beyond our imagining, Toad. But it has already been paid, in full, on our behalf.


  23. toadspittle says:

    Make one wonder if theologians have considered using ‘global positioning satellites’ to locate Heaven – or Hell, for that matter. As we. so far, have Jesus, Mary, Elijah and Enoch (sounds like a rather bad folk group, doesn’t it?) all ’embodied.’ And, as we all know, if they are ‘bodies,’ they must have extension and therefore must exist in space (and time).
    So maybe we should Google them?
    I imagine the four lone ‘bodies’ playing Bridge while waiting for the ‘rapture,’ and the crowd to arrive, like after the show is over.

    And, re :“Many imponderables I agree for some-one who might not share the faith of Holy Church!”
    That is a refreshingly frank and honest admission for this blog. Thank you.

    (Enoch can’t be the one that was on the radio when I was little? And surely not the ‘Rivers of Blood’ one?)


  24. toadspittle says:

    Re: Johnhenryen’s earlier reference to Enoch.

    Thanks to the wonders of the web, I have found out about him. He was indeed on the radio in the nineteen forties, in a show called ‘Happidrome,’
    “We three in Happidrome, working for the BBC, Ramsbottom and Enoch and me” was the song that opened the programme.
    The theological implication is, as Gertrude rightly points out – a little obscure, with the passing of so much time, and the lack in those days of global positioning satellites, etc., particularly the reference to the BBC, but “Happidrome,” is clearly a metaphor for Heaven, in which these three bodies exist, happily and solidly.

    Ain’t science wonderful?


  25. toadspittle says:

    Perhaps someone less ignorant than I can throw some light on the prophet Ramsbottom. Web is no help!


  26. Gregory the Eremite says:

    clericus17fp0glx said:

    “In the encyclical of Pius XII, by inserting the phrase “ever virgin” made her perpetual virginity a dogma as well.”

    This may seem a subtle point, but the definiendum of the definitional part of Munificentissimus Deus is the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin rather than her perpetual virginity, therefore the definition does not define her perpetual virginity. The definition simply assumes Mary’s perpetual virginity. You can see this same pattern in doctrinal definitions as far back as the condemnation of the Three Chapters by the Second Council of Constantinople (553AD): “If anyone says that the glorious holy Mary, ever virgin, is not Mother of God…anathema sit”.

    Similarly, this form of wording can be found in many pieces of formal teaching down the ages. That Mary was virgin before the birth of our Lord is explicitly and unambiguously taught in scripture; that she remained virgin during Christ’s birth and after Christ’s birth has been recognised by the Church as part of the deposit of faith (and therefore a de fide dogma), from very early in the life of the Church, by reflection on the content and meaning of scripture.


  27. Gertrude says:

    You’re being silly now dear Toad. You know that I was talking about GPS in the context of archaeological research!
    On the Enoch question (and completely irrelevant), wasn’t there an Enoch and Eli – black country comedians I seem to remember. It sounds as though you are a similar vintage Toad!


  28. toadspittle says:

    “You’re being silly now dear Toad.”

    Where on Earth do you get your ideas, Gertrude?But we may have the same Enoch in mind.)


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