A Woman Clothed with the Sun|
Rev. Matthew R. Mauriello
Throughout the centuries, many theological treatises appeared regarding the Assumption
Mary. Petitions came from many parts of the world between 1849 and 1950 requesting the
of the dogma. On May 1, 1946, Pope Pius XII (d. 1958) sent to the bishops of the world the
encyclical Deiparae Virginis wherein he questioned them regarding the opportuneness of
defining the Assumption as an dogma of faith. The vast majority of the 1181 residential bishops
in agreement with the Holy Father who interpreted this as the "universal, certain and firm consent
the Church's ordinary magisterium."
On November 1, the Solemnity of All Saints in the Holy Year 1950, Pope Pius XII
solemnly defined the Dogma of the Assumption with the Apostolic Constitution
Deus, stating: " We pronounce, declare and define it to be an divinely revealed dogma that
Immaculate Mother of God, the ever virgin Mary having completed the course of her earthly life,
assumed body and soul to heavenly glory." (AAS 42 (1950) 770)
The dogma of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is the answer of the church to
a materialistic world. It states that the perfection of our faculties and bodily skills will be fully
exercised only in heaven, where they will attain fulfillment in contemplating God. It is the anticipation of
God's plan for all human beings, that we are to be present, body and soul before God's throne. The first
reading for the Mass of the Assumption is taken from the book of Revelation. Mary is the woman
clothed with the sun (12:1), the first and fullest member of the Church, who already shares in its
Mary Immaculate, who from the first moment of her conception was privileged to
the stain of original sin, also has been given the privilege of escaping the corruption of the tomb.
her entry, body and soul into the splendor of heaven that the church celebrates on the triumphant
glorious Solemnity of the Assumption of our Lady.
It is generally held by Church historians that this feast originated in Jerusalem. The
of Constantinople, Mauricius Flavius (d. 602) issued a decree stating that the feast of Mary's
Dormition or falling asleep should be celebrated throughout the Byzantine Empire each year on
August 15. This feast was introduced in Rome fifty years later and Pope St. Sergius I (687-701)
decreed that it be celebrated with a solemn procession, thereby elevated it to the same status as
Annunciation on March 25, the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple, February 2 and Mary's
on September 8. By the year 740 it appears in the Roman Sacramentary called the "Solemnity of
Theoteknos (d. 650) bishop of Livas, on the bank of the Jordan River first speaks of
Assumption (Analepsis) and not the Dormition (Koimesis) of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Other
Church writers such as Modestus of Jerusalem and St. Germanus of Constantinople in the eighth
century wrote and preached on Mary's Assumption. St. John Damascene at that same time wrote
three homilies on the Feast of the Assumption. The following quote is from his second homily: " It
is fitting that she, who in childbirth kept her virginity undamaged, should also after death keep her
body free from all corruption."
published by Pustet
The above article appeared in the Fairfield County Catholic January 1996. Reprinted
with permission of the author and publisher.
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