On August 15th of each year, Catholics celebrate a feast day in honor of one of the greatest mysteries of the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary: her bodily assumption into heaven.
The Assumption became a feast day celebrated by the Church every year on August 15. What it brings to mind is the height to which the Church has elevated this special woman. The teaching that, at the end of her earthly course, Mary was assumed into heavenly glory, body and soul, was dogmatically defined by Pius XII on November 1, 1950 in Munificentissimus Deus. More than 500.000 people were packed into Saint Peter’s Square that day.
Mary’s passage into Heaven is called the “Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary” (Assumptio Beatae Mariae Virginis). The Assumption of Mary has two purposes. The first is that we celebrate the happy departure of Mary from this physical life on Earth. The second purpose is the assumption of her body into Heaven. We firmly believe that from the first moment of her conception Mary was free of all sin, including Original Sin, by a special favor of almighty God. The Archangel Gabriel recognized her as “full of grace,” “blessed among women” and “one with the Lord.”
Finally when she was 59 years old, Mary died A.D. 48. She had enough time to say goodbye to all the apostles before she died. The grieving apostles took her body to a tomb near the one that Jesus was laid in. They covered her with a white shroud and laid her to rest in the tomb. But Mary’s body didn’t stay there. Jesus came to her and took her body and soul into heaven to be with Him.
We do not know for sure the place or circumstances of the death of Virgin Mary. One tradition attests that she died in Jerusalem. Another tradition points to the city of Ephesus, where she is said to have lived for a short time prior to her death. The bible does not inform us about the circumstances of the death of the mother of Jesus. The stories about it took shape in the first centuries after her death and focussed on three events: her deathbed (Dormition), her body being carried to heaven by angels.