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Vincent Lau wrote:

Dear Sir/Madam,

My questions are:

  • Did Mary, Mother of God, suffer a physical death?
  • What is the Vatican view on this?

Thank you,


  { Did Mary, Mother of God, suffer a physical death? }

Eric replied:

Hi, Vincent —

The answer is, we don't know. It hasn't been defined. I believe the scales tip in favor of her experiencing death. There is testimony from the early church (though not necessarily trustworthy) that she died in the presence of the Apostles, and when her grave was opened three days later, her body was nowhere to be found.

The Eastern Church does celebrate her Dormition, or falling asleep (=death).

Pius XII, when defining the Assumption, was very careful to craft his words so as not to suggest one mode or the other. He simply said:

"At the end of her earthly life, she was assumed body and soul into Heaven."

(Munificentissimus Deus, #44)


Mary Ann replied:

Vincent —

There is no Vatican view on the matter. The Church does not know whether Mary died or not. It is reasonable to assume that she died, as did her Son, and that her body was assumed into glory shortly after.

The Eastern Church has a tradition that she did not die, but was assumed into Heaven body and soul together at the point of death. We are free to believe either one.

Mary Ann
[Related question]

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