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June 27, 2022

Religious celebrations: Assumption of Mary

Christians worldwide celebrate on Sunday the most important holiday of summer, the Assumption of Mary, known in Romanian tradition as The Dormition or Sfanta Maria Mare (the big day of Virgin Mary). Symbolically, it is the day that marks the end of summer and beginning of autumn. According to the belief of Christians of the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Churches, the Oriental Orthodox Churches, and the Anglican Communion, the Assumption of Mary was the bodily taking up of the Virgin Mary into Heaven at the end of her life. The Catholic Church teaches as dogma that Mary, “having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.” This doctrine was dogmatically and infallibly defined by Pope Pius XII on November 1, 1950, in his Apostolic Constitution Munificentissimus Deus. This belief is known as the Dormition by the Orthodox. In the churches which observe it, the Assumption is a major festival, commonly celebrated on August 15. In many countries it is a Catholic Holy Day of Obligation.

The Assumption is important to many Catholic and Orthodox Christians as the Virgin Mary’s heavenly birthday (the day that Mary was received into Heaven). Her acceptance into the glory of Heaven is seen by them 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 feast of the Assumption on August 15 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, the real physical elevation of her sinless soul and incorrupt body into Heaven. The Feast of the Assumption on August 15 is a Public Holiday in many countries. It is also a holiday in some predominantly Catholic states of Germany, including Bavaria and Saarland.

In Canada, Assumption Day is the Fête Nationale of the Acadians, of whom she is the patron saint. In Anglicanism and Lutheranism, the feast is kept, but without official use of the word “Assumption”.

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