The Feast of Saint Mary the Virgin

Mary was a Jewish maiden of the house of David and the tribe of Judah, whose parents were Joachim and Anne. She most likely was born in Jerusalem. If one concentrates on Our Lady in her glorified state as Queen of Heaven, or as participating in the chief mysteries of the life of her Son, one is likely to lose all memory of her day by day life as a woman in this world, a mother in a family. She was the wife of a working man, a Jewish peasant woman. She was a Mother who followed her Son from the festivities of the Cana Wedding to His dereliction and her desolation on Mount Calvary, when the sword Simeon mentioned pierced her heart (Luke 2:22-35). Then the Dying Son confided her to the care of St. John. On Pentecost, the Holy Ghost descended on her as on the Apostles. The rest of her earthly life was probably passed at Jerusalem and Ephesus with St. John.

 It has been for ages the belief of the Church that the body of the Blessed Virgin was preserved from corruption and assumed into heaven, and reunited to her soul by unique anticipation of the general resurrection. It is generally held that the Lady died in Jerusalem, or perhaps Ephesus.

 The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin is the greatest of all the festivals that the church celebrates in her honor. It is indeed the consummation of all the other great mysteries by which her life was made wonderful; it is the triumph of her greatness and glory and the crowning of all the virtues of her whole life, which we admire singly in her other festivals.

 While we contemplate the glory to which the Lady is raised this day, we ought to consider how she arrived at this honor and happiness. That she should be the mother of her Creator was the most wonderful miracle and the highest dignity; yet it was not properly this that God crowned in her. It was her virtue that He considered: her charity, humility, purity, patience, meekness, her perfect homage of worship, love, praise, obedience, and thanksgiving.

Feasts celebrating the death of the Blessed Virgin Mary were observed in Palestine during the fifth century, and at Antioch probably in the fourth century, but the Greek Orthodox Church was divided as to the date between January 18 (associating it with the Epiphany) and August 15 (connecting it with the dedication of some church in her honor) until the Emperor Maurice in 582-603 ordered that August 15 should be the date kept. In the Western Church, the Feast of the Assumption was universally observed on August 15 by the end of the eighth century.

In the Roman Catholic Church, the Assumption is de fide (an essential part of Catholic faith, denial of which is heresy), as on November 1, 1950, Pius XII defined the doctrine in “Munificentissimus Deus.”