top of page


Assumption of mary

What does Solemnity of the Assumption celebrate?

On August 15, the Church celebrates the fact that Mary, the Mother of God, was assumed into Heaven at the end of her earthly life.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC 974) teaches, “The Most Blessed Virgin Mary, when the course of her earthly life was completed, was taken up body and soul into the glory of heaven, where she already shares in the glory of her Son's Resurrection, anticipating the resurrection of all members of his Body.”

ASSUMPTION

What happened in the Assumption of Mary?

CCC 966 “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” (Pope Pius XII, Munificentissimus Deus). 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 (Byzantine Liturgy, Troparion, Feast of the Dormition).

What does the Assumption of Mary teach us?

In a homily for the Assumption, Pope St. John Paul II said, “Taken up into Heaven, Mary shows us the way to God, the way to Heaven, the way to life. She shows it to her children baptized in Christ and to all people of good will. She opens this way especially to the little ones and to the poor, those who are dear to divine mercy. The Queen of the world reveals to individuals and to nations the power of the love of God….”

“It was fitting that she, who had kept her virginity in childbirth, should keep her own body free from all corruption even after death. It was fitting that she, who had carried the Creator as a child at her breast, should dwell in the divine tabernacles … it was fitting that God’s Mother should possess what belongs to her Son, and that she should be honored by every creature as the Mother and the Handmaid of God.” – St. John Damascene

What happened to Mary after Jesus ascended to Heaven?

At the Crucifixion, Jesus asked St. John to care for Mary. “When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son!’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother!’ And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home” (John 19:26-27). She was present with the disciples (Acts 1:14), particularly during the decent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (Acts chapter 2). The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “After her Son's Ascension, Mary ‘aided the beginnings of the Church by her prayers.’ In her association with the apostles and several women, ‘we also see Mary by her prayers imploring the gift of the Spirit, who had already overshadowed her in the Annunciation’” (CCC 965).


Did the Virgin Mary die?

While the proclamation of the Assumption does not include a dogma on this point, the Pope gives an account of the liturgical and theological tradition which teaches that the Virgin Mary, in keeping with the example of Her Son, died, was preserved incorrupt, and then raised by God from the dead. Pius XXII, Munificentissimus Deus 20 . . . it follows that the holy Fathers and the great Doctors, in the homilies and sermons they gave the people on this feast day, did not draw their teaching from the feast itself as from a primary source, but rather they spoke of this doctrine as something already known and accepted by Christ's faithful. . . . bringing out into sharper light the fact that this feast shows, not only that the dead body of the Blessed Virgin Mary remained incorrupt, but that she gained a triumph out of death, her heavenly glorification after the example of her only begotten Son, Jesus Christ-truths that the liturgical books had frequently touched upon concisely and briefly. The Eastern Churches, Catholic and Orthodox, refer to this event as her Dormition or falling asleep in Christ, taking the expression used for death in the New Testament.


Where in the Bible does it say Mary was assumed into Heaven?

Although the Bible doesn’t explicitly say that Mary was assumed into Heaven, the prophetic tradition regarding the Messiah is inseparable from the Woman who gave Him birth (Gen. 3:15). In this text, whose context is the creation and fall of Adam and Eve, the Fathers of the Church saw the New Adam and the New Eve. This completed the thought of St. Paul in Romans chapter 5, that if Adam was a type of Christ, Eve was a type of Mary. Likewise, if the “no” of Eve led to the Fall of Adam, who as head of the human race passed on death to us as the penalty for his sin, the “yes” of Mary engendered the victory over death of our human nature in Christ. It would be inconceivable, therefore, that the Son would leave His Mother to corrupt, but rather that He would raise Her up to share in His victory.

“In her, assumed into Heaven, we are shown the eternal destiny that awaits us beyond the mystery of death: a destiny of total happiness in divine glory. This supernatural vision sustains our daily pilgrimage. Mary teaches about life. By looking at her, we understand better the relative value of earthly greatness and the full sense of our Christian vocation.” – St. John Paul II

When was the Assumption of Mary declared?

The Assumption of Mary was taught from the early days of the Church and finally defined as a dogma by Pope Pius XII in 1950. In his Apostolic Constitution Munificentissimus Deus, he wrote, “We proclaim and define it to be a dogma revealed by God that the immaculate Mother of God, Mary ever virgin, when the course of her earthly life was finished, was taken up body and soul into the glory of heaven.”


How is the Feast of Assumption celebrated?

The Solemnity of the Assumption is one of the Holy Days of Obligation in the liturgical year. In some majority Catholic countries, it is also a public holiday. Some places celebrate with parades and festivals in Mary’s honor.

Is the Solemnity of the Assumption a Holy Day of Obligation in 2020? Although normally a Holy Day of Obligation, the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary falls on a Saturday this year. When a holy day of obligation, such as the Mother of God (January 1), the Assumption (August 15), or All Saints (November 1), falls on a Saturday or Monday, the obligation is waived in some countries, including the United States.


Do Catholics worship Mary?

No, Catholics only worship the Triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It would, in fact, be sinful to worship Mary. Theologians call divine worship latria, or the adoration due only to God. However, in English the word worship is equivocal. In Britain it is often used of high personages, with the meaning of revering or honoring them due to the dignity of their office. David gave such honor to Saul, for example, because God had placed him as king over Israel. Such “worship” is derivative, sourced in the Father, as St. Paul taught (Eph. 3:14-15), analogous to that which the Decalogue commanded for parents (Ex. 12:20; Dt. 5:16). Unfortunately, the English word “worship” doesn’t convey the subtlety of the Latin used by the Church, and in the United States is reserved for God. The Church’s theological term is dulia, from the Latin word for service. It is the reverence and respect owed to all the faithful servants of God (Mt. 24:21-23), the angels and saints whom God Himself honors with crowns of glory (Prov. 16:31; 1 Tim. 4:8; 1 Pet 5:4; Rev 4:4). We honor them and, in turn, join with them in honoring God, the source of all holiness (Rev. 4:9-11). Yet, Mary is not just any other saint. She is the Theotokos, the God-bearer, or Mother of God (Luke 1:43; Council of Ephesus, “Against Nestorius”). She is the true Ark of the Covenant who carried the Word Himself, the Bread of Heaven, and the Good Shepherd (Heb. 9:3-5; Rev. 11:19-12:1). The Archangel told her that she was “full of grace” (Luke 1:28), and Elizabeth, moved by the Holy Spirit, called her “blessed among women” (Luke 1:42). For all these reasons and more, the Church renders to Mary an honor that is greater than is given to all the saints and angels, termed hyperdulia, or the greatest honor. Yet, it is not still that adoration, latria, which we give to God alone, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.