On Sunday the Church celebrates the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is the oldest feast day of our Lady. There is little known information on how this celebration came to be. It’s origin is thought to be during the time when Jerusalem was restored as a sacred city during the reign of the Roman Emperor Constantine (c. 285-337). Prior to Constantine’s rule the city had been mostly pagan for a couple centuries.
For two hundred years every memory of Jesus was wiped out in the city and all the holy sites - places made holy by Jesus life, death and resurrection had been made pagan temples.
The Tomb of Mary, which was close to Mt. Zion, was near “Place of Dormition” the spot where Mary “fell asleep” where Mary had died. The Tomb of Mary was where she was buried. The memory of Mary was being celebrated and later became the feast of Assumption.
There was more to the feast than Mary’s death. The feast proclaimed that she had been taken up to heaven, body and soul. This belief dated back to the apostles themselves. Supporting this belief was the fact that there were no relics to be venerated and that her tomb near the site of her death was empty. Today, the Benedictine Abbey of the Dormition of Mary stands on that site. The Assumption completes God’s work in her since it was not fitting that the flesh that had given life to God himself should ever undergo corruption.
In 1950, Pope Pius XII in his Apostolic Constitution “Munificentissimus Deus” proclaimed the Assumption of Mary a dogma of the Catholic Church stating, “The Immaculate Mother of God, the ever-virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life was assumed body and soul into heaven.” Thus, an ancient belief became Catholic doctrine and the Assumption declared a truth revealed by God.
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ as we celebrate the Feast of The Assumption of Mary let us always have a very special devotion to her. Let us turn to her always as an intercessor for us. For who better to ask to join us in prayer to our Lord and Savior but His own Mother. Remember Mary is Mother of the Church, mother of our Lord and Savior, Mother of God and our Mother and is always ready to assist us through her intercession.
Have a very Blessed Week!
Father Mark Groeger is the Parish Administrator of Prince of Peace Church in Northern Cambria, PA.
Prince of Peace