At the end of her earthly life, Mary was assumed, body and soul, to Heaven. Her entrance into Heaven after her life here on earth is what the Catholic Church celebrates on August 15th as the Feast of the Assumption.
Here are seven facts you may not know about the Assumption to help you celebrate this Marian feast!
1. The Assumption is a holy day of obligation for American Catholics
Besides every Sunday, American Catholics are obliged to attend Mass on five or six other feast days throughout the year (depending on when the feast days fall on the Church calendar). The Assumption is a holy day of obligation for American Catholics – so if you haven’t gone to Mass yet, find a Mass time near you!
2. The Assumption is a public holiday in 43 different countries
The countries that celebrate the Assumption as a public holiday are: Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chile, Republic of Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Colombia, Cyprus, East Timor, France, Gabon, Greece, Georgia (Eurasia), Republic of Guinea, Haiti, Italy, Lebanon, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Republic of Macedonia, Madagascar, Malta, Mauritius, Republic of Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro (Albanian Catholics), Paraguay, Poland (Polish Army Day), Portugal, Romania, Rwanda, Senegal, Seychelles, Slovenia, Spain, Syria, Tahiti, Togo, and Vanuatu.
3. The Assumption is a defined dogma of the Catholic Church
In the Apostolic Constitution, Munificentissimus Deus, Pope Pius XII declared the Assumption of Mary as a dogma of the Catholic Church. On November 1, 1950, he wrote: “By the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own authority, we pronounce, declare, and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma: that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.”
4. In an encyclical, Pope Pius XII, writes that Mary did die here on earth
Some believe that the vague wording of Pope Pius XII’s statements in Munificentissimus Deus proves that Mary didn’t experience death on earth before her assumption into Heaven. They site the following passage: “that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.”
But in other areas of the encyclical, the pope definitively wrote that Mary experienced death and was assumed, body and soul, into Heaven. In section eleven of the encyclical, he wrote: “Thus, to cite an illustrious example, this is set forth in that sacramentary which Adrian I, our predecessor of immortal memory, sent to the Emperor Charlemagne. These words are found in this volume: “Venerable to us, O Lord, is the festivity of this day on which the holy Mother of God suffered temporal death, but still could not be kept down by the bonds of death, who has begotten your Son our Lord incarnate from herself.”
5. The Virgin Assumed in Heaven is the patroness of the Maltese Islands
Because of her patronage, the Assumption is not only celebrated as a public holiday but also the cause of great celebrations in local churches – especially in the seven localities known as the Seba’ Santa Marijiet.
6. The assumption is supported in the Bible
The reality of the Assumption is implied in Revelations 11:19-12, where Mary is honored in Heaven, crowned with a crown of stars.
7. Mary wasn’t the only person to be assumed into Heaven
Sometimes Christ is thought to have been assumed into Heaven. But, because of His divinity, Christ did not rely on anyone else’s power to assume Him back to Heaven. Rather, He ascended on His own.
However, there were two other people that the Bible tells us were assumed into Heaven besides the Blessed Virgin Mary. In the Old Testament, Enoch was assumed to Heaven. Hebrews 11:5 says: “By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: ‘He could not be found, because God had taken him away.’ For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God.”
The second person was Elijah, who was assumed into Heaven. 2 Kings 2:11 says: “As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind.”