What happened to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, at the end of her life?
The Assumption of Mary is the name of the teaching that Jesus Christ took Mary up to heaven with him body and soul at the end of her earthly life.
Assumption = "taking up" = "taking up into heaven"
This teaching has been upheld by the Church for centuries in the writings of Church Fathers and in the Church's liturgy, but it was formalized in by Pope Pius XII in in his 1950 apostolic constitution, Munificentissimus Deus (44):
"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."
Why is the Assumption of Mary important?
If the Blessed Virgin Mary was immaculately conceived, that is, she was conceived and born without sin so that Jesus Christ could also be born without sin, then the question is: What happened to her at the end of her life?
Through Jesus Christ, we will experience the resurrection of our bodies, not just souls. Jesus rose from the dead body and soul. He ascended into heaven body and soul. His body is in heaven. On the Last Day, our bodies, too, will rise. People often forget this.
The Assumption of Mary is important because she precedes us in the resurrection of the body. Her body, which was without sin, is glorified in heaven.
Where is the Assumption of Mary in the Bible?
There is no Bible verse describing the Blessed Virgin Mary going to heaven as an event. The Book of Acts focuses on the Acts of the Apostles, not the life of the Mother of God. In the Gospel of John we know that Jesus asked the Apostle John to take care of his mother, so tradition states she lived with him until the end of her life.
The Book of Revelation does reference "a woman clothed in the sun with the moon under her feet" in heaven (Revelation 12:1-2).
St. Paul writes about the resurrection of Christ's body in 1 Corinthians 15:20. Jesus Christ's resurrection was the "first fruits" of those who have fallen asleep. Through the Assumption, Mary received an early share in that resurrection.
Did Mary die before being taken up into heaven?
The Eastern Church refers to the "Dormition" of Mary, that is, she fell asleep and died, then her soul and then body were taken up into heaven.
The Roman Catholic Church has left the details less defined. Pope John Paul II said that she died before being assumed into heaven, but this was not in an official capacity defining a dogma of the Church.
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