Grace Magner wrote:

Hi, guys —

  • What happened to Mary after Jesus died?


Grace Magner

  { What happened to Mary after Jesus died? }

John replied:

Hi, Grace —

Thanks for the question.

From history and tradition we know that Mary went to live with the Apostle, John, in Asia Minor, near Ephesus. As Catholics, we know by Sacred Tradition that Mary was bodily assumed into Heaven at the end of her earthly days. This was not the same thing as Christ ascending to Heaven by His own power on Ascension Thursday but can be compared to Elijah being carried to Heaven in a Chariot. (2 Kings 2:11)

In a sense, Mary's Assumption is the first fruit of what will happen on the Last Day, when the graves are opened, the dead "in Christ" shall rise, and those who are living, will be transformed in the twinkling of an eye and they will be caught up in the clouds with Jesus. (1 Corinthians 15:51-53)

Let me first emphasize, as Catholics, we have two kinds of tradition. One with a lower case t, another with an upper case T. The former we are free to believe, the latter we are bound to believe.

In the case of Mary, we have a Tradition (upper case T) that Mary was assumed.

In the Bull Munificentissimus Deus, promulgated on November, 1 1950, Pope Pius XII declared:

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.

This is a belief the Church has held since Apostolic times.

Regarding the circumstances of Mary's Assumption, there are two different Catholic traditions (lower case t) which are of equal merit:

  • In the Eastern Churches, it is popular to believe that Mary died or fell asleep in the Lord and then was assumed into Heaven. Thus in the East, they celebrate what they call the feast of the Dormition (falling asleep).
  • In the West, the predominant tradition is she was taken up into Heaven while she was still alive.

Hope this helps,

John DiMascio

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