The Assumption of Mary

The Assumption of Mary  is, according to the beliefs of the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Churches, Oriental Orthodoxy, Church of the East, and some Lutheran and Anglo-Catholic Churches, among others, the bodily taking up of Mary, the mother of Jesus, into Heaven at the end of her earthly life. The analogous feast in the Eastern Churches is known as the Dormition of the Theotokos. In Lutheranism and Anglicanism, the feast is celebrated in honour of St. Mary, Mother of our Lord.

In the churches that observe it, the Assumption is a major feast day, commonly celebrated on 15 August. In many countries, the feast is also marked as a Holy Day of Obligation in the Catholic Church. The Assumption of the Virgin Mary in art has been a popular subject, especially since the 12th century.

Celebration

Orthodox Christians fast fifteen days prior to the Feast of the Assumption of Mary. Fasting in the Orthodox tradition refers to not consuming a meal until evening.

The Assumption is important to many Christians, especially Catholics and Orthodox, as well as many Lutherans and Anglicans, as the Virgin Mary’s heavenly birthday (the day that Mary was received into Heaven). Belief about her acceptance into the glory of Heaven is seen by some Christians as the symbol of the promise made by Jesus to all enduring Christians that they too will be received into paradise. The Assumption of Mary is symbolised in the Fleur-de-lys Madonna.

The present Italian name of the holiday, “Ferragosto”, may derive from the Latin name, Feriae Augusti (“Holidays of the Emperor Augustus”), since the month of August took its name from the emperor. The Solemnity of the Assumption on 15 August was celebrated in the Eastern Church from the 6th Century. The Catholic Church adopted this date as a Holy Day of Obligation to commemorate the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a reference to the belief in a real, physical elevation of her sinless soul and incorrupt body into Heaven.

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