Did the Virgin Mary Die? The Answer May Surprise You

Did the Virgin Mary die?

There are many Catholics that deny that the Immaculate Mary died. They claim that when Pope Pius XII dogmatically declared the Assumption of Mary, he left the question open. They cite the following from Munificentissimus Deus:

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.


The Falling Asleep of the Virgin
Note the mitered Christ holding Mary’s soul apart from her body

Here, it is claimed, that the Holy Father left the question open by declaring only “having completed the course of her earthly life,” and not “having died.” Did Mary die? They say the text is ambiguous.

However, what did Pope Pius XII intend when he wrote, “having completed the course of her earthly life”? As in the study of Sacred Scripture, the answer lies in context.

Pope Pius XII – Did Mary Die?

If you read Munificentissimus Deus, it becomes manifest that the Holy Father taught that our Immaculate Lady died an earthly death before being assumed bodily into Heaven. This belief is stated repeatedly in the text of Munificentissimus Deus. Here are some examples from Munificentissimus Deus:

Citing Pope Adrian I, His Holiness Pope Pius XII records:

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.”

Citing the Byzantine liturgy:

As he kept you a virgin in childbirth, thus he has kept your body incorrupt in the tomb and has glorified it by his divine act of transferring it from the tomb.”

Citing Saint Modestus, the Holy Father writes:

As the most glorious Mother of Christ, our Savior and God and the giver of life and immortality, has been endowed with life by him, she has received an eternal incorruptibility of the body together with him who has raised her up from the tomb and has taken her up to himself in a way known only to him.”

The citations employed by Pope Pius XII reveal that he believed and intended to show that the Immaculate Virgin Mary did in fact undergo death prior to her glorious Assumption.

What is death?

Death is the separation of the body from the soul. When the soul leaves the body, you are dead. Traditional iconography shows the soul of Mary separate from her body as in the Western version above and in the Byzantine version below:

Dormition, Did Mary Die?

Dormition Icon from the 1100s

The common feature of the Dormition icon is Christ holding the tiny soul of Mary depicted as a baby wrapped in white clothes. It’s a “reverse Madonna.” The Mother of God’s body lies lifeless on a bier. The orthodox image shows that Mary did die. The Holy Apostles surround her demonstrating that the Dormition and Assumption had apostolic witness and are part of the deposit of Faith.

But Mary didn’t sin!

It should be stated that Mary did not die because of sin, but rather in her desire to be conformed to Christ in all things – to be the speculum justitiae, mirror of justice. Her death gave her dominion over Purgatory as prophesied in Ecclesiasticus 24 and gave her more meritorious prayers for those in the hour of death.

If you would like a detailed defense of the death of the Immaculate Virgin, see the Glories of Mary by Saint Alphonsus Ligouri, a doctor of the Church.

Assumption Triduum

The Eastern Churches celebrate a mini-Lent before the Assumption from August 1-14. In addition to fasting, the Eastern Christians chant the Paraklesis Canon to the Mother of God from August 1-13. There is a tradition is that she died at 3pm on August 13 and rose again and was assumed into Heaven on August 15. Her death on August 13 is still commemorated in Jerusalem to this day. Hence Aug 13-15 is a Marian Triduum or “three-day” death and resurrection cycle. In fact, the Jerusalem rite for Matins on August 14 are those of Holy Saturday. In Jerusalem, the liturgy of her death begins on the evening of August 12.

Question: Do you agree that the iconography tradition and the context of Pius XII’s teaching upholds that Mary died? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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  • pedroerik

    Keep lessons, Dr. Marshall. Fantastic post.

  • Pete and Dolores

    Dr. Marshall, yes, indeed, we believe Our Blessed Mother died a true death, that it was not merely a dormition, sleeping, but a separation of her soul from her body for the three days while awaiting her glorious assumption, in perfect imitation, as always, of Her Divine Son, Whose body lay in the tomb and was raised by the Father on the third day in glorious resurrection. Yep! Amen! Alleluia! And, thank you for this beautiful clarification defined by P. Pius’ dogmatic declaration de fide and the tradition of the Fathers of the Church. God bless. Pete and Dolores

    • thechronicletterwriter

      I missed something, exactly where is it a dogma? Extensive reading shows popes and Church Fathers who held differing opinion. That she was assumed into heaven is dogma. That she died physically is declared dogma exactly where? Personally I think she did die but I have never read a dogmatic statement of the Church and the above, while very interesting is not a dogmatic teaching.

      • Phil Steinacker

        Re-read the second paragraph.

        • Tom Vizzio

          Ecclesiasticus 24????? I must have missed something..so what is in the second Paragraph that would change my mind ??

      • Tom Vizzio

        Amen Brother !!! and Sister !!!!!

    • Tom Vizzio

      WHY do you believe it ?? It simply goes against the fact that sin is the cause of death..original sin for sure. I just like to know what convinces you that Mary died ? If Elijah or Enoch did not die(and I believe they did die) why would Mary die?? What good Son would want to see his Mother die..even for 3 days ?? I just like to know what convinces anyone that Mary died if they believe the message of Our Bible .

      • Chatt88

        I agree. If it is dogma that she had an earthly death, I feel that I would have been taught that.
        I was taught that she at the Assumption she was assumed, body and soul, into heaven; having been spared the pains of an earthly death.

      • ♚ ⓑⓐⓡⓐⓚⓐ ♚

        Mary died. Simple as that.

  • Catholica

    Thanks for posting this article. It is good to always be learning, because this issue is a confusing one, at least it was to me in the past.

    • I don’t think there is tension here. Mary had perfect faith and only did the will of God. If she wanted to die like Christ, she was merely conforming her soul to the will of God.

    • PapalSoldier

      Since The Blessed Virgin Mary was born without sin, She indeed did not have to die.Death is the result of Original Sin. She indeed Chose to die because of how much She Loved Her Son. And wants to imitate Him. Don’t look at it as She is trespassing God, it’s the opposite. The Mystical City of God by Ven. Mary of Agreda dives into this. Get those 4 volumes, there treasure.

      • ♚ ⓑⓐⓡⓐⓚⓐ ♚

        Born without sin? What’s your source? My Bible doesn’t tell me that.

  • Pingback: Did the Blessed Virgin Mary die? The answer may surprise you... - Christian Forums()

  • Edward Mulholland

    There is a harmony in all things Catholic. Mary’s assumption at the very instant of her death mirrors her redemption at the very instant of her conception. By the grace of her Son, She was victorious over sin and over death.For many the thought that Mary died somehow lessons her spiritual privileges… I love to think of my Mother in heaven as one that dealt a first round knock-out to death itself.

    • Dear Edward,

      So true. Just a point of clarification. Tradition places her death on August 13 and her assumption on August 15. This would entail that her assumption was not at the very instant of her death. She had three days in the tomb like Christ.

      On Aug 15, the Holy Apostles go to her tomb to show Saint Thomas (who was late) and find the tomb empty.

      • ThirstforTruth

        Dr Marshall…On what scriptural basis do we have this information? Or what other
        writing that specificially states the apostles went “to her tomb to show St Thomas
        and find the tomb empty”? Or is this simply an example of tradition? I am a
        cradle Catholic and I do not recall every hearing this…Thank you and God bless!

        • It’s the most ancient tradition regarding the Dormition. Saint John Damascene (Doctor of the Church) confirms it.

          • Dana

            Do you have a source for this?

          • Bemkapeace

            I’m surprised, Dana, that you ask for “a source” after Marshall refers to John Damascene. I’m sure you can easily find his works free on the web. The author need not do that for us. The 7th century monk has 3 homilies on the Assumption of Mary (even though it was not a dogma then). I think much of what is referred to here is found in the first homily.

          • Dana

            No need for the snark Bemkapeace! I’m not doubting that a citation exists, I was simply asking for it. Specifically, I was wondering where John Damascene confirms “the most ancient tradition” re: the Dormition. I’ve found his homilies, but what section was Dr. Marshall thinking of?

  • Patti Day

    We learned of the Assumption of Mary, body and soul, in second grade. In fifth grade we learned the word dormition, the falling asleep, a picturesque way of saying she died as all humans must, although I think we saw it as a “happy death”. Perhaps that is what sister told us, or maybe we got that impression from the portrayal of total peace in the picture.

  • mr retirement

    read THE MYSTICAL CITY OF GOD …THE 4 VOLUMN SET BY Venerable Mary of Agreda..beats a bloggers viewpoint any day

    • obadiahorthodox

      The ravings of a lunatic nun who was mentally ill. Goes against the teachings of the Church Fathers.

      • PapalSoldier

        The “Fathers” are not infallible. The Catholic Church is, example St.Thomas taught that The Blessed Virgin Mary was not Immaculate as did St.Bernard. Are they right? As long as Theologians/saints opinions do not contradict Dogma. There is nothing wrong in believing it.

        • Percy Gryce

          But the unanimous testimony of the Fathers is infallible.

          • PapalSoldier

            There is no unanimous testimony of the Fathers that contradict Catholic Dogma.

          • Percy Gryce

            Of course, that’s true–one might even call it a truism–but irrelevant to what I wrote.

            But you flatly stated that “The ‘Fathers’ [why the scare quotes?] are not infallible.” I pointed out that in fact in some cases the Fathers are infallible. You responded with a non sequitur.

          • PapalSoldier

            Well in some cases, it’s common sense. But when others like to call a holy nun a “lunatic” and say that she went against the “teachings of the church fathers” This is why i said what i said.

            Errors of the Jansenists, #30: “When anyone finds a doctrine clearly established in Augustine, he can absolutely hold it and teach it, disregarding any bull of the pope.”- Condemned by Pope Alexander VIII

            Pope Pius XII, Humani generis (# 21), Aug. 12, 1950: “This deposit of faith our Divine Redeemer has given for authentic interpretation not to each of the faithful, not even to theologians, but only to the Teaching Authority of the Church.”

          • Percy Gryce

            But in fact it is the solemnly defined teaching of the Church that when the Fathers teach with one mind (unanimously) then that teaching is in fact the teaching of the Church:

            Vatican Council I, Dei Filius (Dogmatic Constitution on the Catholic Faith), ch. 2 [para. 9] (1870): “it is not permissible for anyone to interpret Holy Scripture in a sense . . . against the unanimous consent of the fathers.”

          • PapalSoldier

            You’re arguing against a strawman, when did i say i disagreed with the unanimous Teaching of the Fathers?

          • Percy Gryce

            You wrote, without qualification, that: “The ‘Fathers’ are not infallible.”

            The Church, in fact, teaches that the Fathers are infallible when they speak with one mind.

          • PapalSoldier

            i guess sense is not that common anymore

            “You wrote, without qualification, that: “The ‘Fathers’ are not infallible.”

            I MEANT OPINION, THE OPINION OF FATHERS. Example St.Cyprian taught that the baptism of heretics was invalid, he was wrong.

          • Percy Gryce

            I guess clarity of thought and expression are not that common either.

            The unanimous opinion of the Fathers is the infallible teaching of the Church.

            What you apparently meant to say is: The opinion of one or a few Fathers may well be erroneous. That is certainly true. But that’s a far cry from saying “The ‘Fathers’ are not infallible.”

            Additionally, you still haven’t explained why you used the very Protestant scare quotes around the term “Fathers.”

          • PapalSoldier

            Not exactly, not “one or a few” almost all the Fathers were material heretics. There was only one Father that had basically no errors in his writings. And that was St.Gregory Nazianz.

            The Roman Breviary, May 9: “He [St. Gregory] wrote much, both in prose and verse, of an admirable piety and eloquence. In the opinion of learned and holy men, there is nothing to be found in his writings which is not conformable to true piety and Catholic faith, or which anyone could reasonably call in question.” – Dom Prosper Gueranger, [The Liturgical Year, Vol. 8, p. 475.]

            look at the name of the person i responded to, their most likely eastern “orthodox” who practically worship the Church Fathers, yet take cherry picking to a new level. Which is why I used the “

      • coca

        …….anyone knows about the teaching of the Church Mothers?

        • Patti Day

          There are learned women saints to whom the Church looks as defenders of the faith and for their explanations of Truth. They are among the Doctors of the Church, Saints Teresa of Avila, Therese of Lisieux, Catherine of Sienna, Hildegard of Bingen

    • Nathan718

      “beats a bloggers (sic) viewpoint any day” – to be fair, most of the article is citing infallible papal teaching, hardly just a blogger’s viewpoint.

      • Thanks Nathan! 😉 That being said. I do love Maria Agreda’s Mystical City.

  • vasenessa

    I was talking to my non-Catholic friend about the rosary, and when we got to the Assumption, she asked if it was like the disappearance of the body of Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars (but obviously, by the power of God, not Force stuff, and with the idea that Mary was going to heaven…and probably a ton of other differences). Is there any tradition of someone seeing how Mary’s body went to heaven? Did it rise into the sky like Jesus’s or did it just disappear?

    • Saint Thomas saw Our Lady suspended in air – after the Assumption. She returned to appear to him.

      This was not the first Marian apparition as she had appeared to Saint James in Spain while she was still alive.

    • John Clare

      She allegedly dropped her girdle as she was going up. It is kept somewhere as a holy relic.

  • Poustinik1

    Thank you Dr. Marshall. So loved this post as you truly hit upon something very important with Mother Mary concerning her Assumption. The Byzantine Catholics truly revere Theotokos in such a way as to put some Catholics to shame. They don’t worship Mary but they do honor Our Mother in a very profound way. Thank you for honoring Mother Mary by again setting forth the truth about the Assumption.

    • Agreed. I think that Latin Christians have a higher level of dogma concerning the Our Lady, but the Greek Christians have higher level of devotion for her! It seems that Our Lady has a more pronounced place in the Eastern liturgies.

      • Poustinik1

        You mention an interesting and important distinction between dogma and place in the West and East. When I have attended the Divine Liturgy as celebrated in the Byzantine Rite, The Mother of God is directly honored in prayer at least three times. I am wondering if what seems to be a lesser degree of dogma in the East concerning Theotokos might be because She has been revered historically in the same manner from the very early church (as written by the Early Church Fathers). It is as if Her authentic place is sort of taken what it truly is and it has not been questioned and therefore not necessary to debate. Also, can you recommend the best books possible to read on Mother Mary? Thank you Dr. Marshall for your generosity to all of us with your blog.

      • Yes, our services preceding the Dormition feast demonstrate this pointedly. Plus, we fast.

  • William Lanigan

    Wouldn’t it be true that Mary’s body would have been made into the likeness of Christ’s own glorious body, just as our bodies will be if we make it to heaven? Now, we don’t know for sure how we shall be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, but this corruptible must put on incorruption, so if even Jesus Himself doesn’t have the same human body He had while on earth, why would Mary’s body be any different? In that sense, aren’t we all assumed into heaven at death?

    • Fr. AH

      William, no one in heaven has a body yet except Christ and his Mother. The resurrection of the body(ies) will occur at the Last Judgment. Thus, while the saints enjoy perfect bliss now, they will become “perfectly perfect” when their souls are reunited to their bodies.

      • Dan

        What about Elijah? Scripture has him being taken up body and soul. Did he lose his body somewhere along the way? 🙂

      • ♚ ⓑⓐⓡⓐⓚⓐ ♚

        Sir, my Bible tells me only Jesus has that glorious body. What Bible did you read that from?

  • Andrew O

    I think she died, and I think Pius XII taught that she died, but I do not think that he defined that she died. If he had intended to do that, it would have been quite a simple matter to formulate his definition in such a way as to make this clear (which is the point of definitions).

  • jenny

    An excerpt from above caught my attention:

    “….Citing the Byzantine liturgy: As he kept you a virgin in childbirth…..”
    I was wandering if the Bible mentions the fact that Blessed Mother kept her virginity during childbirth… Can anyone please help here? Thank you.

    • Dan

      No, the Bible does not teach the perpetual virginity of Mary; that is a teaching of the Church.

      • A teaching deduced from Scripture. If she maintained her virginity before and after conception, why not during?

        • lemuel

          your dumb

      • TaylorB

        The Fathers had a different understanding of virginity than we do. Thus, they taught that she also had an extraordinary childbirth and that Jesus did not pass through the birth canal.

        • quisutDeusmpc

          “…Jesus did not pass through the birth canal…”

          The author of Hebrews states that He [Jesus Christ] needed to be made like us in ALL things, in order to be a great high priest to save us. While Adam was created without the agency of childbirth, the rest of humanity has come into being through childbirth. If St. Paul and St. Irenaeus and the last too profound teaching pontificates of Venerable Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, there seems to be a stress, of late, on the passages in Ephesians (1: 8b-10) – quoted extensively by Venerable Pope John Paul II in his favorite passage of Gaudium et Spes no.22, that the Father’s plan/will in saving us was to, “…sum up all things in Christ, in heaven and on earth.” The Greek word that is translated “sum up” in that clause is the work “anakephalaiosis” and is translated into the Latin as “recapitulatio”. The roots “kepha” [by the way, this is the name in Aramaic that Jesus gives to Peter (Cephas/Kepha)] and “caput” mean “head” as in Christ is the “head” of the “body” [the Church]. So the Father is re-heading, recapitulating, restoring, renewing, recreating, putting all things right, destroying sin, death, and the Evil One in Christ. One of the things that He has to do is assume a human nature unto Himself (the Incarnation), and another is to be BORN as we are…that is, to undergo the pains of childbirth, in order to recapitulate it, restore it, renew it, et al by passing through it with/for us. Some of the rhetorical flourish of the Fathers and others does border on suggesting that Mary “maintained her virginity” in childbirth by suggesting that her hymen remained intact (attempting to make the connection between her preserving her virginity by forgoing conjugal relations with Joseph, and the way that virginity was proven in ancient times, which was that the hymen would remain intact. Well physically speaking, how could a hymen (the only way ancient persons had for proving a maiden’s virginity) remain intact in childbirth? If Jesus didn’t pass through the birth canal. But they are only looking at it from a purely human or physical point of view. The intent of the revelation of the virgin birth isn’t to stress the Blessed Virgin’s intact hymen, but to stress that Jesus Christ is not merely solely a man, but, since He was conceived by the Holy Spirit of God, He is both God and man. In other words, she remained a virgin because she did not engage in conjugal relations with St. Joseph to conceive Jesus Christ, therefore she remained a virgin in childbirth. Jesus was born the way you and I are born and, I would suggest, the Father stated that it would be so in Genesis 3 to Eve in the protoevangelium, in reference to Christ’s coming through the Blessed Virgin, Mother of God: “I will put enmity between you [Satan]and the woman[the Blessed Virgin Mary] and between your offspring and hers…To the woman [Eve] he said: I will intensify your toil in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children”. (Genesis 3:15,16). It is not coincidental that in St. John’s Apocalypse this reference is applied to the Mother of God and Jesus her son, where it specifically mentions that she labors in pain to give birth:

          “A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman [the Mother of God] clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was with child and wailed aloud in pain as she labored to give birth….She gave birth to a son, a male child, destined to rule all the nations with an iron rod. Her child was caught up to God and his throne.” (Revelation 12:1,2,5).

          Why would you be wailing aloud in pain, laboring to give birth to a child if that child isn’t passing through the birth canal? I think the historical conditioning of the Fathers and the biblical/OT stress that if a woman is accused of adultery then the truth or falsity of it could be proven by the presence/absence of blood [the rupture of the hymen] when the two spouses engaged in conjugal relations after their marriage leads to this hyperbolic rhetorical flourish. The reasoning then probably followed, since the Blessed Virgin did not conceive Jesus Christ by human means and her virginity remained inviolate, then her hymen would be intact, but birth via the normal means would preclude that possibility, therefore Jesus did not pass through the birth canal.

        • JoeAllen

          Please note that this is also an argument for Mary being born with a “glorified body”; she gave birth to Jesus without birth pains and with NO need for a “birth canal” because was without sin. Her glorified body was also free to be ASSUMED into heaven at any time in her life. She chose to wait until after finishing the Gospel of Mary and Luke.

      • The Bible does teach the perpetual virginity of Mary.

    • quisutDeusmpc

      If Jesus Christ was conceived by the Holy Spirit of God’s “overshadowing”, then, by definition, she did not conceive by human instrumentality (i. e. by the agency of St. Joseph). I think that the Bible makes mention that, “…Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, SHE WAS FOUND WITH CHILD THROUGH THE HOLY SPIRIT….All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘Behold, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD AND BEAR A SON,’…HE [St. Joseph] HAD NO RELATIONS [the conjugal act] WITH HER UNTIL SHE BORE A SON, and he named him Jesus.” (St. Matthew 1: 18, 22, 23, 25).

  • Fr. AH

    I’m afraid this argument is not entirely satisfactory. I believe that Mary did indeed die, for the reasons Dr. Marshall mentioned and in accordance with the testimony of ordinary teaching of previous popes. I agree that this has been the most commonly held teaching in the Church’s history and even that it’s very likely Pius XII himself tended toward this belief. But it is very important that we distinguish between what Pius XII believed personally — even as pope — and what he solemnly defined as extraordinary and infallible teaching. When he does invoke the authority of Christ, of Peter and Paul, and his own authority as Supreme Pontiff (i.e. in paragraph 45), he specifically refrains from using the word “death” or “die”. This is not accidental and, because it is a solemn dogmatic definition, cannot be glossed from previous statements. Dr. Marshall, you raise good points about why we should believe Mary to indeed have died, but I don’t think the issue has been solemnly defined.

    • Fr. DB

      Father, I could not agree more. This is a very necessary distinction to make, just as Andrew does also above. While I agree that Dr. Marshall (as is so often the case) adduces some very good arguments based on solid reasoning, it is too much to assert that Pope Pius XII taught that infallibly. Indeed, his wording is *conspicuously* circumspect. Why? We can only guess. However, we can and must distinguish the teachings contained in the rest of the Apostolic Constitution from that part which is the infallible definition per se.

      Finally, while I think it is helpful to look to the practice of our Eastern brethren, I do not count that practice as a locus theologicus on par with the Western traditions and practice. I do not say we are right and they are wrong, or our is better than theirs. I only mean that, if we are going to breathe with both lungs, we get to use all our alveoli same as they do.

    • Francis Philip

      You are correct, and Dr. Marshall is wrong to claim an answer to what a) he does not know and b) the Pope has not solemnly defined though Taylor would have you think he has.

  • Mark J. Hornbacher

    What’s the Ecclesiasticus 24 reference? I can’t seem to identify it.

  • Anna Marie Isgro

    I believe Virgin Mother Mary, who was conceived without the stain of original sin, did not die because death only comes through sin, which the Virgin did not have. Original sin produces the death gene, which The Virgin did not have because she was conceived without sin; therefore, she did not die. The Virgin was assumed into Heaven at the appropriate time.

    • wva88

      Then how did Jesus die? He also did not suffer from original sin.

      “Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered
      under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, DIED, and was buried.

      • Dan

        [Christ], who knew no sin, [God] hath made sin for us, that we might be made the justice of God in him (2 Corinthians 5:21, DR).

      • PapalSoldier

        Jesus died to redeem the human race. If he didn’t redeem us, then the Gates of Heaven would still be closed and no one could enter.

        • wva88

          That was meant to be a rhetorical question.

          Obviously, if Jesus can die, then the argument that “no sin”=”no death” is incorrect.

          • dondon

            i believe that sin=death equation is scriptural (esp. Genesis, Wisdom, Paul’s letters), and it follows that “no sin=”no death” is scriptural as well.

            i believe that Jesus’ death is directly connected to his baptism by John “the baptist”. as we recall it, John hesitated to baptize Jesus. But he said in reply
            “Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness” (Mt 3:15 NAB). scriptural righteousness means fulfilling what God requires.

            The Church teaches that He died for us (Jesus has power to lay down and take back his life, Jn 10:18). Jesus could not have died, but he died for us. Thus, His death is rendering death powerless over us.

          • quisutDeusmpc

            “Jeus’s death is directly connected to his baptism by John…”

            What ?!

            St. Paul is pretty clear that Jesus’s death is a result of the curse that is contained in the law concerning “those that hang on a tree”, notwithstanding the fact that He is like us in all things, except sin:

            “Christ ransomed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who hangs on a tree,” (Gal. 3:13)

            quoting Deuteronomy 21:22,23:

            “If a man guilty of a capital offense is put to death and you hang him on a tree, his corpse shall not remain on the tree overnight.l You must bury it the same day; anyone who is hanged is a curse of God.* You shall not defile the land which the LORD, your God, is giving you as a heritage.”

            This is known theologically as the “graced exchange”. Jesus Christ is unjustly put to death, so we can (in spite of our sin) be raised to life. St. Athanasius and St. Augustine and others state, “He became what we are [justly cursed], so that we can become what He is [mercifully adopted as sons in the Son].”

          • wva88

            There are different impacts of sin on human life. Obviously Jesus and Mary did not have any actual sin or original sin. However, even without this type of “personal” sin they experienced a humanity that was deeply wounded by the sin of Adam and Eve. For example, they would have suffered illness, injury, fatigue, hunger, thrist, bowls that cracked, tools that broke, the need to work, and the many other things that we now associate with humanity but that were not present before the Fall. One can argue that death is the result of this type of influence of sin on humanity and not directly linked to actual or original sin. Another argument presented by some in these comments is that Mary had the ability to chose death.

            However, to argue that because she did not have any actual or original sin that she COULD NOT die, is simply not a valid argument. Her Son is the ultimate proof that this is not true.

        • Robert A Rowland

          Actually Jesus died only to reopen the gates of heaven. Salvation must be earned by you.

          • PapalSoldier

            Philippians 2:12 Wherefore, my dearly beloved, (as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but much more now in my absence,) with fear and trembling work out your salvation.

            Yup, that’s Catholic teaching.

          • quisutDeusmpc

            Not “earned”. We can not as men, make God our debtor (i. e. God, I did this; so you owe me that). St. Paul is quite clear that salvation does not come by “works of the law”. Salvation is sola gratia, sola Christi. It does involve works (“work out your salvation in fear and trembling”). We cannot sin our entire lives andm barring a deathbed conversion, expect to get into heaven. But we also cannot do good all our lives and then stand at the gates of heaven and say to God, I earned my salvation, therefore give me my due. It is only because of the grace of God, that he promised us He would redeem us, it is only because of Christ’s Incarnation, Life, Death, Resurrection, and Ascension that salvation is possible. It is only because of that grace imparted to us in baptism that we are reborn as sons and daughters of God. It is only because of the grace that we receive to participate in communion with Christ in the Eucharist and in Confirmation that we grow in communion with Him. It is only because God, in His grace, works in us to will and to do His good pleasure, that we are capable of doing works that are pleasing in His sight.

  • JMC

    Yes, I believe she did die. According to “Mystical City of God” by St. Mary of Agreda, Our Lady revealed to her that God actually gave her a choice in the matter, and she chose to die, rather than simply be assumed into Heaven alive, because she felt that she, a mere creature, should not be privileged to avoid that which her Son, God Himself, had to undergo. I also believe the “three days” scenario, because the Virgin also revealed that it pleased God to allow her to follow His Own pattern. Thus she died on a Friday and was resurrected and assumed on Sunday. Though Mary of Agreda mentions nothing about the hour of Our Lady’s death, given the rest, it would not surprise me in the least if she did indeed die at 3 pm.

  • Liz S

    Thank you so much for this post! Seriously, I’m a lifelong Catholic and while I wouldn’t say I didn’t believe in the Assumption, it was sort of hard for me to get behind, probably because a lot of the imagery in the Western Church I see looks almost identical to the Ascension, with Mary instead of Jesus and I was never taught that Mary died before being assumed into heaven, so I just sort of assumed (no pun intended) that she was alive when it happened. Some blog (I really can’t remember exactly where I saw it) posted an image once from the Eastern Church of the Dormition of Mary and the image just clicked better for me, so I decided to go with that as my mental image of the Assumption, but wasn’t sure if I was technically allowed to being a standard Latin rite Catholic. Like I said, it wasn’t that I didn’t believe in the Assumption, but my feelings and reactions towards it were a sort of “okay, if you say so,” and somehow this post and the Eastern icon make me “Oh, I get it now.”

    • Francis Philip

      Unfortunately Liz, Dr. Marshall presumes to know what he does not know and what has not been defined. Pope Pius XII did not state that she died. Read the text for yourself. He solemnly defined purposely without using the words “death” or “die.” That is the will of the Holy Spirit.

      • quisutDeusmpc

        As you have gone to lengths to belabor, the intention of “Munificentissimus Deus” isn’t to solemnly define the death of Mary, but her Assumption body and soul into heaven. Nevertheless, Dr. Marshall has demonstrated that in the same document, the Holy Father specifically states that she was placed “in the tomb”. Concerning the proscriptions in Tanakh not to ritually defile oneself by contact with a dead body unnecessarily, it confounds reason to think that the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother Most Pure would be placed in a tomb unless she had died/was dead. I am not attempting to refute your alleged claim that Dr. Marshall is contradicting the intention of MD, but make a reasonable case that she did in fact die.

  • Dr. Marshall,
    I tend to think that Mary died, but there’s also this from the Catechism of St. Pius X:

    “39 Q. If Adam and Eve had not sinned, would they have bee exempt from death?
    A. If Adam and Eve had not sinned and if they had remained faithful to God, they would, after a happy and tranquil sojourn here on earth, and without dying, have been transferred by God into Heaven, to enjoy a life of unending glory.”
    I know Catechisms aren’t infallible, but I think that’s where people are going with the whole idea of Mary not dying. Since she didn’t sin, she went straight to heaven after the end of her life. Now anyone who understands why this is important for John Paul II’s Wednesday audiences, go to the head of the class. 😉
    So the question….. did Pius XII “settle” the question? I think you prove pretty strongly the Eastern (and even sometimes Latin) tradition, but I dunno if you prove it was definitively settled, or if its a question the Popes even would definitively settle.

    • Francis Philip

      The Pope purposefully left the question open – obviously. That is the will of the Holy Spirit. Read what the Pope has to say and you won’t go wrong. Be wary of phrases and texts which are taken out of their context to make a point which was not actually made in the original document.

      • quisutDeusmpc

        It seems quite clear from “Ineffabilis Deus” (the definition of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception by Pope Pius IX, stood in need of redemption, as every and all human beings are, nevertheless, her redemption took place from the very first moment of her creation/conception.

  • JoeAllen

    No, NO … !!!! How can we talk about Mary’s DEATH if we do NOT understand DEATH … ???

    I hate to be a party pooper, but Dr. Taylor is wrong about Death. He says: “Death is the separation of the body from the soul.” This is Plato’s definition of Death.

    Plato believed the soul lived on after the body dies; Plato WRONGLY believed the soul could see and hear and think without the body. Unfortunately, about 90% of Catholics still follow Plato’s beliefs. If you think I am wrong, do an INTERNET SEARCH using the terms: RATZINGER, IMMORTAL SOUL.

    • JoeAllen,


      • JoeAllen

        We humans are NOT spirit-creatures like the Angels. We humans can NOT think without brains. We can NOT see without eyes. We can NOT hear without ears.

        The Jewish tradition does NOT involve Plato’s IMMORTAL SOUL. The Jewish tradition says: “From DUST thou came and to DUST thou shall return.”

        Cardinal Ratzinger thinks we should stop using the word SOUL because it is has come to mean the SOUL as described by Plato. Do the INTERNET SEARCH that I suggested and you will understand.

        • Patti Sheffield

          Righto. But Scripture itself warned us not to fear those who can kill the body but rather fear those who can kill the soul. The Jews had an incomplete revelation; it was completed in Christ. They did, however, have a concept of the soul and body both being resurrected, which was separate from the bodiless pagan resurrection idea. Cardinal Ratzinger’s words have been twisted by non-Catholics to mean that he denies bodily resurrection, when, of course, he does not. His words are also a theological opinion. That means that their weight is dependent on the authority the Church gives them.

          If soul is problematical, then use “spirit”. That’s what the Roman Missal does in its latest edition in reference to the priest, who has an indelible character on his soul/spirit from his sacrament of ordination. As do all Christians who are validly baptized. The idea that our souls/spirits are annihilated at death and re-created is from the Jehovah’s Witnesses, not the Catholic Church’s doctrine. God bless.

          • JoeAllen

            Patti, thanks for your insights. When Christianity spread from the Jewish community to the Greek community, the Greek intellectuals FRAUDULENTLY incorporated Plato’s Immortal Soul into Christian theology.

            Cardinal Ratzinger is saying: “Who needs the RESURRECTION if you are already IMMORTAL because you have an IMMORTAL SOUL that can roam around and think and see and hear and communicate … ???”

            The fraudulent acceptance of Plato’s IMMORTAL SOUL by 90% of Catholics, has placed Easter far below Christmas in importance.

          • Hi, JoeAllen–I would *love* to see a direct quote from Cdl. Ratzinger along the lines of your claim above–or minimally the citation of your source for the claim.

          • JoeAllen

            Pope Benedict XVI (born Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger in 1927), is a brilliant, renowned Theologian who has written more than 40 scholarly books. In two of these books, he addresses the “Resurrection of the Dead” and “Eternal Life” and the common mis-guided belief in an “Immortal Soul.”

            In the Pope’s book, Eschatology: Death and Eternal Life (last updated in the year 2006), he covers the nature of the Resurrection. On page 105, he states that today most Roman Catholic and Protestant theologians agree that we humans go completely out of existence at death. Therefore, he says it is time for Christians to stop thinking in terms of an IMMORTAL SOUL, and to start thinking in terms of our Resurrection or Re-Creation on the Last Day. In other words, the Christian hope for immortality and eternal life should be 100% focused on the Resurrection. The Pope even recommends that Roman Catholics stop using the word SOUL in both the Liturgy and Bible translations, because the word reinforces a false dichotomy between BODY and SOUL in us humans. For instance, in English the word LIFE-FORCE could be used in place of the word SOUL.

            Moreover, in his book entitled Introduction to Christianity (last updated in the year 2000), the Pope reviews the Apostles’ Creed, and on page 238, he states that a person’s BODY and SOUL should NOT be thought of as separate entities. The Pope goes on to formally reject the IMMORTAL SOUL as an obsolete speculation of Plato and other ancient Greek philosophers (page 241). And on page 246, he notes that both John (6:63) and Paul (1 Cor 15:50) describe the Resurrection as a Re-Creation of the COMPLETE HUMAN PERSON. Therefore, at the Resurrection, God will re-create us from His perfect memory of us. The Pope concludes that when we humans are Resurrected, we will take on a life-form similar to that of the risen Lord.

          • Would you please provide the quote from Page 105 in *his* words rather than yours? That would be most helpful.

          • quisutDeusmpc


            The Incarnation is surpassed, in the Church’s liturgical calendar, in importance by Easter. Which is why Sunday is a weekly obligation, because it was the day Christ rose from the dead. It is at Easter that the Church requires that we, at a bare minimum, confess our sins and attend Mass. To be sure Christmas is second in importance ONLY to Easter and therefore a whole season is given to its anticipation, Advent. Certainly, Jesus Christ could not have offered HImself on the Cross as the sacrificial Lamb that accomplishes our Passover without having taken on a human nature; but the Incarnation (which actually takes place at the Feast of the Annunciation, March 25; that is, from the very first moment of His conception in Mary’s womb, the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. Therefore Christmas is the celebration of the Nativity, Christ’s birth; namely, the manifestation of the Incarnate Word to the world. However, our redemption and our salvation would not have been accomplished merely by the Nativity/Christmas. He was born that He might die (“I have come to give my life as a ransom for many.”). Without His Passion, death, and Resurrection we would yet be in our sins.

        • quisutDeusmpc

          Your two posts (this one and the one directly above) contradict Christ’s parable concerning Lazarus and Dives (the rich man) recorded at St. Luke 16: 19-31, as well as St. Paul’s statement regarding the separation of the soul from the body (fully consonant with the one you attribute to Plato as somehow pagan and, therefore, unJewish and/or Christian, a false inference to my mind). That there is life after death should be quite plain from Christ’s teaching in the parable. Both Lazarus and the rich man have died and yet interact. Christ specifically mentions in his recounting of the parable that Dives was dead, ‘and was buried’, giving the impression that the interaction between Lazarus and Dives is taking place at the level of the soul. St. Paul, with regards to death and the soul, “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.” Additionally, Christ, as recorded at Mark 12:27 and Matt. 22:32 states that Abraham, though dead is alive, “He [God]is not the God of the dead but of the living”. Accordingly, in another place, St. Paul argues that Jesus Christ is the firstfruits from the dead, implying that all the dead from Adam to Christ awaited for His Passion, death and Resurrection that they might themselves be liberated from death, that is, have their bodies redeeming by putting off mortality and corruption and taking on immortality and incorruption, reunited to our spirits.

          • JoeAllen

            You make many, many good points. Thanks for citing your Bible verses. I will ponder them, and will check to see if Ratzinger addresses any of them. Ratzinger main point is this: Our only hope is in the RESURRECTION because this world, this universe (including the Internet and the works of Shakespeare, etc) will pass away. If we have IMMORTAL SOULS, who needs the RESURRECTION because we already have IMMORTALITY.

            I could give hundreds of rebuttal verses in the Bible (Dust to dust, Abraham’s arguments to save Sodom, God is able to destroy both body and “soul,” the dead think no thoughts, etc, etc, etc).

            The Hebrew Bible has NO word for SOUL; it uses LIFE-FORCE or BREATHE OF LIFE. If you find the word SOUL in the Old Testament, it is a BAD TRANSLATION.

            Unfortunately, the Greek Bible does use the word SOUL, and Plato wrote in Greek and used the word SOUL. Houston, we have a problem … !!!

      • isabel kissinger

        lol, for a change…

        • Jasper Monroe Ylanan

          Answer our questions, HERETIC!

  • Windyrdg

    I have never doubted that the Blessed Virgin died and have heard of her desire to die so as to experience what Christ experienced. The biggest problem I think we encounter is the term “Assumption.” The term itself is correct and conforms to the older usage. Moses was also assumed into heaven. However, our modern use of the word is quite different.
    As a young person I knew that Mary was placed in her tomb and when they went back a few days later, her body was not there. From this I concluded that, since her body was no longer there, they assumed she’d been taken to heaven. Hence, the Assumption. This may be at the root of the Protestant rejection of the doctrine..

    • Dan

      ??? The “root of the Protestant rejection of the doctrine” is that it is not conclusively taught in the Bible.

  • davepinoy

    Then where is her Tomb, and why was this not a part of catholic/christian pilgrimage?

  • Brian Ingram

    Adam and Eve were not created immortal, it was a state available to them
    because of the tree of life, that is immortality is a preternatural
    gift not a natural endowment of man. When God banished Adam and Eve
    from the garden and the tree of life, bodily immortality was no
    longer possible. It was an act of mercy that he did so. Even though
    free of original sin Mary would and as has tradition attested have

    • dondon

      That contradicts your logic. mortality is the direct effect of banishment from the garden due to original sin. since Mary is conceived without original sin Mary was not banished from the garden and has constant access to the tree of life-and in effect immortal. ergo, if Mary died it is not a natural death due to sin but a death due to love of her Son who chose to die for us.

      • Brian Ingram

        Mary was born in this world not in the Garden of Eden that’s fact and Catholic theology. Mary after her assumption has as we will have after our resurrection immortality not as a result of a perfected spiritual nature as the dammed also will have bodily immortality after the resurrection. God posts at Eden’s gates “the cherubim, and a flaming sword which turned every way” (Gn 3:24) to guard the way to the tree of life (again Catholic theology).

        Death then, as Catholic theology teaches us, is the result of separation from the tree of life, in that sense mortality is an indirect result of original sin, however not a direct one. If Adam and Eve had remained in the Garden of Eden they would have the possibility of bodily immorality
        but an endless sentence of spiritual death. So God banishing Adam and Eve from the garden and the tree of life, was an act of mercy, allowing for Christ plan of salvation and our redemption.

        • elizabeth halican

          Could you comment on this? “If we desire a ripe and perfectly formed fruit, we must possess the tree that bears it. If we desire the fruit of life, Jesus Christ, we must possess the tree of life which is Mary”, True Devotion to Mary, pg 97:

          • Brian Ingram

            Hi Elizabeth,

            I take it your quoting St. Louis de Montfort. “Happy the soul in which Mary, the Tree of Life, is planted; happier the soul in which she has acquired growth and bloom; still happier the soul in which she yields her fruit; but most happy of all: the soul which relishes and preserves Mary’s fruit until death, and for ever and ever. Amen.”
            It is important to put this context. The tree of life in both cases are metaphors, obviously Mary born in
            space and time could not be the same tree of life as in the Garden of Eden. In Christ we become new creations, He is the new Adam and Mary the new Eve. Through her ‘Yes’ at the Annunciation she made possible Christ’s birth, metaphorically Mary
            became the new tree of Life. The fruit of this tree is first of all Our Lord Who is the bread of life. In our Baptism, we become the children of God who by precedence have the same spiritual mother as His Son, Jesus Christ Our Lord. So we are the children of the new Eve, we have been conceived in the spiritual womb of Mary which is Her Immaculate Heart. St. Louis de Montfort stressed the need to have true devotion to Mary to bear spiritual fruit, hence his reference to Mary as “the tree of life”

      • Brian Ingram

        You do not seem to understand the logic rather than me contradicting it. Yes mortality is the direct effect of banishment from the garden and the tree of life, however it does not follow that because Mary was free from Original sin she had access to the tree of life and immortality, that is at best adductive reasoning leading to a false conclusion. Mary was not banished from the Garden of Eden as she was never there prior to her assumption. The conclusion of your own statement “if Mary died it is not a natural death due to sin but a death due to love of her Son who chose to die for us.” that if she died she was mortal, seems to have alluded you. People who are immortal by the very definition of immortality do not die. It does not matter if its a natural death or not.

  • Billy Bean

    As a cradle Catholic who spent a decade in the wonderful liturgical life of the Eastern Orthodox communion, I am most gratified to know that we are in full agreement with our Eastern Christian brothers and sisters (both Catholic and Orthodox) on this matter. It is my conviction that the two communions should continue in dialog with fervent prayer for reunification. The spiritual wisdom that the Eastern Church has preserved so well in her liturgical and ascetic life is as vitally necessary as the unifying ecclesiology and moral theology that has developed in the West. The Body of Christ must embody both! The world is in dire need of both!

  • Francis Philip

    Dr. Marshall – you have brought to light the implication, and have made an argument for an implication without explaining why Pope Pius purposefully, in his definition, did NOT state that she died. As a faithful theologian who has also read what Pope Blessed John Paul II had to say on the subject – he was indecisive as well, and only stated an opinion – and knowing what various other saints have stated on the subject, you know good and well that the Pope and the Magisterium have never defined that she died. This is for a very good reason, and all theologians should respect the will of the Holy Spirit in this regard.
    Teach people to be docile to the Holy Spirit; teach what the Holy Spirit teaches, and God will reward you.

    • It’s my opinion that you cannot wrestle the assumption pronouncement from the rest of the document. Obviously the context is important or Pope Pius XII would not have written the rest of the document.

      • Here’s what JPII said on June 25, 1997: “With this formula, the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium, following my Venerable Predecessor Pius XII, made no pronouncement on the question of Mary’s death. Nevertheless, Pius XII did not intend to deny the fact of her death, but merely did not judge it opportune to affirm solemnly the death of the Mother of God as a truth to be accepted by all believers.”
        So the bottom line would seem to be that, based on the rest of what JPII says in this audience, *he* apparently believes Mary experienced death, but acknowledges that a believer need not accept this conclusion (keeping in mind that both Pius XII and the document Lumen Gentium refrain from asserting she experienced death).
        I had more observations that are currently in moderator-land, I think, because I didn’t realize that linking to this audience would put me there…but based on all the evidence I’d presume this remains an open question, and that the faithful can take different views on this…

        • Thank you Jim. Here we see Blessed JPII teaching that Pius XII made no pronouncement on Mary’s death.

          What does that say about Catholics who publicly insist that the Magisterium (via Pius XII) HAS defined that, indeed, Mary did die?


          It sure seems that Francis Philip is right.

  • Harry Pickering

    If you believe the iconography, that is akin to being a neanderthal being taught by cave paintings; and ignorant medieval peasants can get it wrong. As you said, death is the SEPARATION of the body and soul. The iconography details Christ holding Mary’s soul, (in child-like form?). Whereas the Church states that Mary was assumed into heaven body and soul. If she died, her body and soul would have been separated. Elijah completed his earthly life and was assumed into heaven in horse-driven chariots. Completing our earthly life does not always have to end in death. Consider the Bible promises of the surviving faithful when Christ returns: they will not die but be transformed into ethereal beings and taken to heaven. Although their earthly lives will have ended also. (And where did someone get the info about Mary being dead for three days before being taken to heaven? More folklore?)

    • I believe that iconographical tradition of the Church is a bit more special than cave paintings.

  • Nesta Callahan

    I believe that while her body was consumed by death (no heart beat), that God took his precious mother to heaven. Where she was with HIM until her Assumption, when both her body and soul were united in the heavenly majesty. I believe that our earthly bodies are going to die, just like Jesus Christ, but remember just because his earthly body was gone, He was busy getting all of the people who belonged in Heaven both before he died, but remember that HE told the Good Thief, “Today you will be with me in Paradise!”

  • Pingback: Did the Virgin Mary Die? Answer May Surprise You - BigPulpit.com()

  • rentonrain

    Great article!

  • Don George

    Well written and researched article. The BVM being the Primus Interparis must taste death as Jesus himself tasted death so as to rise to new life.

  • I wager that, just as Christ only assumed those defects most fitting to His mission, so also Our Lady only was permitted to exhibit those defects that most befit her mission. Temporal death was necessary to His, but not to hers. That which is conceived entirely free of all sin is not naturally bound to death, and since beyond that there is no fittingness (“because Christ died Mary also should” is a very weak argument for fittingness – Christ also was stripped naked and scourged, Our Lady was not), I do not think it is most logical to suppose that Mary ever suffered temporal death; nor do I see Pius XII as teaching authoritatively in those quotes that she did suffer this.

    • quisutDeusmpc

      Is the servant [“Behold the handmaid of the Lord…”] greater than her Master? [cf. Matt. 10:24, 25a; Luke 6:40; John 13:15,16, John 15:20]

      • Again, by that logic you also have to insist that Our Lady was stripped and scourged, which she of course was not.

        • quisutDeusmpc

          That does not follow. Otherwise, in order to be saved, you and I would have to be “stripped and scourged”. The point is not a one to one correspondence in every detail; but a general correspondence in universals. Christ was born, so was the BVM, so are we. He grew to maturity in wisdom, grace, and stature with men, so did the BVM, so do we. He suffered, died, and was buried; so did the BVM, so must we (by the way, you may be too young or unaware of a/the teaching regarding the BVM known as the “Seven Dolors (Trials) of Mary” – herein lay her being significantly “stripped and scourged”: i. e. (i) Simeon’s prophecy that Jesus would suffer and that a “sword shall pierce your soul also” – the sword isn’t literal, no one picked up a lance and thrust it into the BVM’s side; but certainly spiritual, witnessing her Son’s scourging, crucifixion, and having his Heart thrust through with a lance, and then buried in the prime, humanly speaking, of His earthly life; (ii) the flight into Egypt: King Herod breathing the threat of death over the newborn infant’s life and slaughtering the innocents in Judea in an effort to eliminate the threat of a Jewish successor to his throne; (iii) the loss of the child Jesus on departing from Jerusalem after the celebration of Passover, before finding Him in the Temple precincts (any and every parent knows the panic stricken, horror filled trial when the child who was standing right next to you has suddenly vanished from sight; how much more so St. Joseph and the BVM on the loss of Christ for a number of days); (iv) witnessing Christ carrying His cross on the Via Dolorossa; (v) standing watch beneath the Cross during His crucifixion and death; (vi) the piercing of His Most Sacred Heart on the Cross by the soldier’s lance to confirm His death; (vii) the burial of her only-begotten Son.

          Jesus alone is the Savior who merits Redemption, therefore only He is “bruised for our iniquities”. The BVM’s and our likeness is analogous, not ontological. Your underlying assumptions, and reasoning are faulty.

          • Obviously it does not follow; that is my whole point. I believe there is some sort of miscommunication going on here.

            Now, precisely which of my “underlying assumptions and reasoning” are faulty?

          • quisutDeusmpc

            My point was, WHY do I also have to insist that Our Lady was stripped and scourged by positing, “Is the servant greater than her Master?”. Christ is the Savior, so His crucifixion is unique to Himself. However, if we are to be conformed to His likeness, we also have to suffer, but it does not follow that the manner of our suffering exactly correspond to His. This was the reason why I mentioned the devotion known as the “Seven Dolors of the Blessed Virgin Mary”. In order to illustrate that Madonna did suffer, and the number seven can be taken to mean that her suffering was perfect or complete. So the principle would be He suffered (uniquely), so we must suffer (participate in suffering, but not necessarily the exact manner of His suffering – otherwise the Church would have to employ a cadre of persons willing to “crucify” Christians in order to merit salvation; reductio ad absurdum).

          • I think you are effectively proving my point with this argument. I certainly agree that, as Christ had to suffer, so must Mary had to; hence her Seven Sorrows. I disagree that these sufferings of Mary must be the same as Christ’s sufferings; therefore the separation of soul and body (an unnatural thing that a being Immaculately Conceived need not undergo in the proper functioning of nature; Christ only endured it due to a special and unique Divine Dispensation so as to achieve His mission and for that purpose alone) need not be among them.

          • quisutDeusmpc

            So we are conformed to His image, by dying a death, as He died a death, but His Mother, who is perfectly conformed to His image, and who we are to take as a model of the spiritual journey did not? I think I am going to have to agree to disagree with you. St. Therese of Liseiux said something to the effect, that for a homily or teaching on the Blessed Virgin Mary to have any benefit for her, it was important that the teachings regarding her would be/were immitable. That we have a tendency to so play up the holiness of the saints and so neglect or downplay their shortcomings (or in the case of the Blessed Mother, her humanity) that they become unreal demi-gods. It doesn’t make sense to my mind, and seems disproportionate, that something that both her Son, and we undergo, she is exempted from as if she exists on a plane not only above us, but above Him. It appears all too unreal. How on earth does she become an example for us when her uniqueness exalts her above Christ. She was redeemed, remember. Her redemption/salvation merely occurred at the very first moment of her conception, so she is human like us in all things: e. g. including being subject to both death, and the possibility of sin (otherwise her trials would not be real trials, just the appearance of them).

          • She is not like us in all things; besides being Immaculate, Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange would teach (feel free to chime in here if you are a fan of him, Dr. Marshall 🙂 ) that she is also impeccable — *incapable* of sinning; a tenet held by orthodox Thomist thought.

            I am not pretending I *know* that the Blessed Virgin did not die; I am merely saying that she need not have simply because Christ did, and that I do not think the Magisterium has ruled clearly enough to negate the possibility that she was assumed without dying (the Encyclical quote Dr. Marshall refers to is itself just a quote, brought up within that Encyclical in the context merely to prove that her body was indeed treated with great dignity — an Encyclical quoting something else in this way does not by that fact make this latter thing Magisterial).

            Remember, death is only a result of sin, which Mary had none of, which Adam and Eve had none of until they sinned, and which Christ only accepted for a specific mission. You are right that we must avoid over-playing the saints to make them into demi-gods. But that is really not a possibility with the Blessed Virgin Mary; trust me, that isn’t something you have to fear! So long as you do not say something that makes her equal to God, it is highly unlikely you are over-playing her. St. Maxamilion Kolbe calls her the Quasi-Incarnation of the Holy Spirit. St. Alphonsus teaches that all the good works of all the saints combined are nothing compared to one of her acts. The list goes on!

          • quisutDeusmpc

            Mary stood in just as much need of salvation as anyone else. Mary stood in just as much need of redemption as anyone else. The whole dogma of the Immaculate Conception is that her salvation, her redemption took place at the very first moment of her conception. All of this would have seemed entirely foreign to her as a 1st century Jewish woman. She was taken, for example, to the Jewish temple at the proper time after her birth and received ritual purification, she went up to the Temple at Passover and on the Day of Atonement to participate in the celebration of deliverance and participate in the sacrifices for sin. There is far from consensus on these matters: for example, many of the Greek fathers such as St. Basil, St. John Chrysostom suggest she doubted and feared and do not hold to the Marian dogmas.

          • My friend, are your true colors coming out? Are you implying, with that last line, that you think it licit to doubt the Marian dogmas? I pray that is not so.

            Mary did not need those rituals you cite any more than Jesus needed to be baptized by John.

          • quisutDeusmpc

            sigh….”my true colors”….why are the central points totally left unaddressed and the veracity of my faith called into question? It would be like my asking, How old are you? who cares….address the arguments

            There is no consensus among the early church Fathers, the eastern Orthodox do not hold to them, and they would have seemed totally foreign to Mary as a 1st century Jew who worshipped God at Temple and attended synagogue.

            Jesus did need to be baptized by John otherwise the waters of baptism would not have been sanctified (“it is necessary for us to fulfill all righteousness”). It was necessary for the BVM to fulfill the Law as it was then revealed or she would have “sinned” the very thing you claim she was impeccable from doing.

            You have this very narrow, juridical, neo-scholastic understanding of the Faith and believe it is the entirety of it.

          • Feel free to think whatever you want about my understanding of the Faith and label it however you please, but it would be an utter waste of time for me to debate the proper Catholic understanding of Mary’s assumption with someone who thinks it licit to doubt the Marian Dogmas.

            I will pray for you. God bless.

          • quisutDeusmpc

            Well, Mr. O’Connor, nowhere have I stated that it was “licit to doubt the Marian Dogmas”. And despite your belief, that you are capable of reading my mind, I can assure you, you do not know what I think.

            I bothered to visit your blog. I noticed your ringing endorsement of the Medjugorje visions. I am wondering what you are “thinking”, now that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has declared that no Catholic is permitted to attend or support activities that suggest that they are valid?

            I will pray for you, sir. For any and all of the Marian doctrines and dogmas, are secondary to and only exist as a corollary to the Christological ones. Catholics are certainly permitted to “believe” in private apparitions as long as they have been approved as consonant with the Faith. The Medjugorje visionaries for some time have been acting as a “church” apart; that they can conjure a vision at will, and that on a daily basis. They remind more of Simon Magus and circus sideshows than the Fatima visionaries. God bless you, sir. I pray that you will begin to read the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and see that the central mysteries, the Most Holy Trinity, and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, His Person, Words, and Deeds are the alpha and the omega of our common, catholic Faith.

          • To refuse to give full assent of faith to any of the Marian dogmas is heresy and separates you from the Body of Christ; one who does this must not present himself for Communion, as that would be a sacrilege.

          • quisutDeusmpc

            Daniel….you strike me as a well intentioned young man. You obviously are devoted to the faith. However, your ability to discern between honest concerns or arguments, that someone should be willing to address or answer if they are as knowledgeable as they either appear or present themselves is deficient. This whole idea of calling someone’s “faith” into question, and then jump right to “heresy” is at the very least impetuous.

            It is possible for someone to have honest doubts without somehow being outside the faith. As a budding Thomist you should be familiar with the concept of “ignorance” and “invincible ignorance”. If not, please do so before you offend someone else.

            Having said that, please familiarize yourself with the Catechism of the Catholic Church no. 2089:

            2089 Incredulity is the neglect of revealed truth or the willful refusal to assent to it.

            Heresy is the obstinate post-baptismal denial of some truth which must be believed with divine and catholic faith, or it is likewise an obstinate doubt concerning the same;

            I am neither neglecting revealed truth (as we are dialoguing about its elements) nor willfully refusing to assent to it (at Easter each year I wholeheartedly reaffirm my baptismal promise to hold to revealed truth and all the truths which the catholic Church teaches). So incredulity does not apply.

            Neither am I obstinately denying the dogma of the assumption or obstinately doubting it. Rather, my questions are honest and intending to bring out the plain facts that there are a number of Church fathers that do not hold to them, and the entire Greek Orthodox communion does not. Those are not inconsequential facts – down through the centuries tens of millions of people have not held them; honest, God fearing, God loving brethren.

            And instead of getting light from you who supposedly reads the arguments of St. Thomas, and Fr. Lagrange, I get accusations instead of honest presentations of their arguments that might shed some light on the subject. Have you ever heard the statement, You catch more flies with sugar than with salt? You would do well to remember it when attempting to present the truths of the faith to honest inquirers.

            By the way, you never answered my other question:

            What do you think of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith’s recent declaration regarding the so-called Medjugorje apparitions / visionaries in light of the glowing recommendation that appears on your blogsite?

          • I did answer your other question; where you asked it on my blog.

            You are well past the initial seeking phase, my friend. Refusing to give *full* assent to the Marian dogmas is, at the very least, incredulity.

          • quisutDeusmpc

            Perhaps, but if I doubt it, I would be in good company. Saints Bernard of Clairvaux, Albertus Magnus, and Thomas Aquinas all criticized it. It was the Franciscans that carried the day.

          • They “criticized it” before it was proclaimed dogmatically. Don’t try that one before Our Lord on Judgment Day.

          • quisutDeusmpc

            Your point is what? that if saints themselves struggled to appropriate the teaching of the dogma, sinners should not?

          • No, my point is that they would never dare refuse full submission to that which had already been proclaimed dogma.

          • quisutDeusmpc

            “…dare refuse…”

            You crack me up, son. I don’t know what you think ever happened to “…fides quarens intellectum…” but apparently you think a person’s responsibility is to be a robotic automaton. Freedom requires responsibility. If someone honestly does not understand something, they are only required not to deny it; they are permitted to have honest doubt – it is called freedom of conscience. Your statements are bordering on coercion. Youth are always so strident.

          • No one understands the Divine Mysteries, and yet the faithful still submit absolutely to them all. You are greatly misled.

          • And I finish with this: perhaps you are making the quintessential error of today (based on a misinterpretation of Vatican II) of confusing the right to religious liberty with the right to the absolute autonomy of conscience (there is no such latter right). I thought such a confusion below you, but then again, I do not know you.

            As a Catholic, you are bound to give *full* submission to *all* that is contained in the Deposit of Faith; and yes, that absolutely includes the Marian Dogmas. Seeking more understanding is good – necessary, in fact. Struggling with the *temptation* to doubt is completely understandable. Asking any question about any dogma is fine.

            But pretending that you are entitled, as a Catholic, to any degree of willed doubt regarding anything in the Deposit of Faith is reprehensible. If you insist on keeping this approach, then I repeat: receiving Communion would be a lie – the “amen” you utter before He is placed on your tongue must be an absolute and unqualified “I Believe” to *all* that His Church teaches, and Our Lord is not a fan of hypocrites.

            If this is not enough and you still want to keep fighting on this, then you are in need something I cannot give you. Please go to confession. Good bye, God bless, and be assured of my prayers.

          • quisutDeusmpc

            I never claimed that we could fully comprehend the Mysteries of the Faith, only that we have a responsibility, as much as in us lies, by grace, to enter into them as fully as possible – what do you think the Summa Theologica was? “Submit”? That is the very definition of Islam. A “Muslim” is one who submits. As Christians we obey – “ob”-“audientia” : in return for, attention; response to, hearing. It implies a reasoned use of one’s freedom, not a blind, craven submission. “The fear of the Lord” is only the BEGINNING of wisdom – not its end.

  • Mary Martha Pazos

    Wonderful explanation and I love the icons.

  • geekborj

    The comments certainly gives me an idea that:
    1. The manner of “death” of Our Mother is NOT dogmatically defined and that we can interpret the phrase “completed the course of her earthly life” either as literal sleep or literal death (separation of body and soul) as long as we have to also believe that she was assumed both by body and soul.
    2. The difference between (some) Easter and (most) Latin rites regarding the “death” of Mary is not settled by the Dogma, only the Assumption of BOTH body and soul.

  • Jesus Aguilar

    If the Blessed Virgin died and then her body and soul was taken to the heaven, does it mean that she resurrected? Sorry about my ignorance on these matters

  • I’d respectfully suggest that the original post might be taking a slightly backwards view of the evidence. What I mean is that, prior to the dogmatic definition in 1950, it appeared that almost *everyone* spoke casually about the “death” of Mary, because even her Assumption itself was only viewed as a “probable opinion” (which would be “impious” to reject, of course, but it was obviously not taught with infallible certitude). Thus for the first 19 centuries of the Church, there was no doctrinal reason to speak any more precisely than to speak of her “death.”
    Also, I’m not sure I’d draw the conclusion that Pope Pius XII himself, by merely citing the ancient sources, is limiting *himself* to what the *sources* believe about this question (that she “died” and was in the “tomb”). In addition, the ancient sources clearly affirm a more salient point regarding this death–it was not “ordinary” at all. Whatever was going on, the body was *incorrupt*, untouched by the decay of death which customarily follows the separation of body and soul.
    As to the iconography, I’d want to study that history some more, but the portrayal of both Christ and Mary’s soul in close *proximity* to the body (rather than in Heaven) suggests that her “dormition” and her incorruptibility *may* be portrayed as something other than any conventional death.
    Fast-forward to 1950. This would seem to me to be the *exact* moment at which the Holy Father would *need* to be careful *not* to dogmatically declare that Mary’s body and soul separated. Why? Because, even if one were a *witness* to the “dormition” of Mary and saw her lying incorrupt in the tomb, how could such an eyewitness ever say the soul and body had separated?
    In this sense, I would assert that in 1950 we were taught that this question is actually “infallibly *ambiguous*,” to coin a phrase, meaning that part of the dogma is that we really *don’t* know the answer to this. That is, in 1950, we were taught that the dogmatic formula of the Assumption gives us the answer that “we definitely *don’t* know” whether she died, despite the previous “assumptions” about her having died.

  • Traci Stephens Bocock

    Isaiah’s Birthday was yesterday August 13th. He was born around 3:00pm.

  • Poustinik1

    Thank you Irenaeus for your suggestion. I will look into obtaining this book. Have read many books about Mother Mary but somehow missed this classic.

  • Stu

    This answer surprised me. 🙂

    Good article.

  • Richard

    Even though the Virgin Mary was sinless and Heaven was assured Scripture states that “flesh and blood cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven”. THE MYSTICAL CITY OF GOD (Ven.Mary of Agreda) and THE LIFE OF CHRIST (Anne Catherine Emmerich) both works of private revelation related by the Virgin Mary and Jesus respectfully give accounts of the death and Assumption of the Virgin Mary.

  • Nicholas Hardesty

    I agree with Andrew O. and Fr. AH … it doesn’t appear to me that the Pope’s purpose for quoting those sources was to settle the matter of whether or not Mary died. He is simply providing evidence from the tradition of the Church that Mary’s assumption has been taught and believed by the faithful.

  • Robert A Rowland

    The Mystical City of God by Ven. Mother Mary of Agreda, a reputed autobiography of the Holy Family with several approbations covers the death of Mary on Friday August 13 just short of her 70th birthday (though she actually stopped aging at 33) at the same hour her son had died, Her soul was transported to heaven, and the transition of her body occurred at the same hour on Sunday August 15 of her Son’s Resurrection.

    Obviously I didn’t look at all the other comments. before I wrote this, but I will leave it as an emphatic endorsement of this private revelation. Private revelation does nothing to alter doctrine, but the Church has ruled that it is worthy of belief, and I have strongly supported it for about 46 years. It has been a source of great joy for me.

  • JoeAllen

    If you understanding DEATH, you will know that Mary did NOT die … !!!!

    Pope Benedict XVI (born Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger in 1927), is a brilliant, renowned Theologian who has written more than 40 scholarly books. In two of these books, he addresses the “Resurrection of the Dead” and “Eternal Life” and the common mis-guided belief in an “Immortal Soul.”

    In the Pope’s book, Eschatology: Death and Eternal Life (last updated in the year 2006), he covers the nature of the Resurrection. On page 105, he states that today most Roman Catholic and Protestant theologians agree that we humans go completely out of existence at death. Therefore, he says it is time for Christians to stop thinking in terms of an IMMORTAL SOUL, and to start thinking in terms of our Resurrection or Re-Creation on the Last Day. In other words, the Christian hope for immortality and eternal life should be 100% focused on the Resurrection. The Pope even recommends that Roman Catholics stop using the word SOUL in both the Liturgy and Bible translations, because the word reinforces a false dichotomy between BODY and SOUL in us humans. For instance, in English the word LIFE-FORCE could be used in place of the word SOUL.

    Moreover, in his book entitled Introduction to Christianity (last updated in the year 2000), the Pope reviews the Apostles’ Creed, and on page 238, he states that a person’s BODY and SOUL should NOT be thought of as separate entities. The Pope goes on to formally reject the IMMORTAL SOUL as an obsolete speculation of Plato and other ancient Greek philosophers (page 241). And on page 246, he notes that both John (6:63) and Paul (1 Cor 15:50) describe the Resurrection as a Re-Creation of the COMPLETE HUMAN PERSON. Therefore, at the Resurrection, God will re-create us from His perfect memory of us. The Pope concludes that when we humans are Resurrected, we will take on a life-form similar to that of the risen Lord.

    • Would you please provide the quote from Page 105 in *his* words rather than yours? That would be most helpful. Also, from Pages 238 and 246 mentioned above? It’s really important to cite the original texts rather than describe them…

      • JoeAllen

        Jim, you asked for references; I gave you two book titles and many page numbers. If I give you quotes, you will say: “What is the full context … ????”

        Please go to Amazon and download the two books to your Kindle, … LIKE I DID … . It will cost you about $6.00 per book. The TRUTH is worth it … !!!!!!!!!

        • If this *were* the “truth,” I’d find it for free at the Vatican website and not in a Kindle book…. right?
          If this is even remotely *magisterial*, it will be found *not* just in a book by a private theologian, but in the documents of the authentic magisterium of the Church…
          But, then again, why not just give us a direct quote from Ratzinger the theologian, which we could then discuss?

          • JoeAllen

            Ratzinger is a CATHOLIC theologian who I greatly respect and follow. His views have influenced the new liturgy and the latest Bible translations.

            You and I have a VERY different understanding of Death, but I believe we can both be called “faithful Catholics” … !!!

            I wish you the best.

          • Thank you–you too. I was just hoping to see what he wrote–are the passages you have in mind at all similar to what he says in the Ignatius title “Credo for Today”, which I do have?..

          • JoeAllen

            I don’t know. I leave it to you to compare them.

            Please let us know what you discover, because the it is important to us seekers of wisdom and truth.

          • Dan

            I think Mr. Russell is right that Ratzinger may be expressing his private views on this matter more than the view of the Church. Ratzinger writing as Ratzinger (and not Pope Benedict XVI), is just one voice among many. I think we have to acknowledge what the Church teaches over and above the thoughts of even its most prized theologians (who may even have been Popes at one time in their lives!). This isn’t to discount the concerns that Ratzinger may have had, but I personally would like to be cautious before “running too far” with his thoughts on this issue. I have a few of Ratzinger’s old books on my Amazon Wish List that I am waiting to read through.

          • JoeAllen

            Dan, thanks for your perspective. If Ratzinger’s analysis is so RADICAL, why has there been NO controversy or rebuttal from other Catholic theologians … ???

            The whole scenario is in our history books. When Jewish Christianity spread to the Greek world, the Greek intellectuals incorporated Plato’s IMMORTAL SOUL into Christian theology (these intellectuals also pompously “explained” the mechanics of a MYSTERY called THE TRINITY; something devout Jews would never attempt to do).

            When Jewish-Greco Christianity spread to the Roman world, the Roman lawyers and bureaucrats added mountains of CANON LAW and evolved the HOLY ROMAN EMPIRE (which eventually precipitated the Protestant Reformation).

          • jpaYMCA

            Heavens, Mr. Joe Allen: please learn yourself some history, both ancient, biblical and medieval. The whole scenario you present is absent from history.

            The darn Council of Jerusalem, giving that mountain of Jewish Canon Law; and those silly Roman Jews who bequeathed to us the biblical – ok Pauline – explanation of the Trinitarian mystery…and without a single reference to Plato.

            In any case, it’s better than the old comics section of the newspaper to see someone write that “Roman lawyers and bureaucrats added mountains of CANON LAW and evolved the HOLY ROMAN EMPIRE (which eventually precipitated the Protestant Reformation).”

          • JoeAllen

            Thanks for your criticism. You are educating me.

            I agree that the Jewish culture at the time of Jesus, was NOT perfect. For example, there were Jewish lawyers who, as Jesus said: “Replaced the few Laws of God with the many Laws of men.” These disgusting lawyers were called … PHARISEES … !!!!!!!!!

  • Richard Walters

    This one has kept me up night for the 53 years of being a Catholic. Isn’t there anything else in this world to be concerned about?

  • Larry

    Thank you for citing the Byzantine response. We Byzantine Catholics have the Feast of the Dormition, which often gets cited as being different from Assumption. You explained it very well herein.,

  • elizabeth halican

    Let us meditate on what the saints/pope and the Word of God tells us about Mary:

    The saints have said wonderful things of Mary, the holy City of God, and, as they themselves admit, they were never more eloquent and more pleased than when they spoke of her. And yet they maintain that the heights of her merits rising up to the throne of the Godhead cannot be perceived; the breadth of her love which is wider than the earth cannot be measured; the greatness of the power which she wields over one who is God cannot be conceived; and the depths of her profound humility and all her virtues and graces cannot be sounded. What incomprehensible height! What indescribable breadth! What immeasurable greatness! What an impenetrable abyss!(Sirach1:1-8). Ref. True Devotion to Mary, Intro. #7. This is a mystery unknown even to many of the most learned and spiritual of Christians. (Ref. True Devotion to Mary, page 12, #21).

    Pope Pius IX – Apostolic Constitution Ineffabilis Deus, Dec. 8, 1854 on the Dogma of Immaculate
    Conception – …..Wherefore, far above all the angels and all the saints so wondrously did God endow Her (Mother of God) with the abundance of all heavenly gifts poured from the treasury of His Divinity this Mother ever absolute free of all stain of sin, all fair and perfect, would possess that fullness of holy innocence and sanctity than which, under God, one cannot even imagine anything greater and which, outside of God, no mind can succeed in comprehending fully.

    Sirach 1:5-7 To whom has Wisdom root been revealed? Who knows Her subtleties? There is but
    one wise and truly awe-inspiring, seated upon His throne: It is the Lord; He created Her, has seen Her and taken note of Her.

  • Toni Vercillo

    The question ought not to be, “Did the Virgin Mary die?” but rather, “Was the Virgin Mary exempted from death?”

  • Pete and Dolores

    To thechronicletterwriter from Pete and Dolores


    We really don’t
    know what more dogma you need than the ex cathedra dogmatic definition of Pope
    Pius XII on November 1, 1950 , in his Apostolic Constitution Munificentissimus Deus, and thereby
    exercising papal infallibility, that “Mary,the immaculate perpetually Virgin Mother of God, after the completion of herearthly life, was assumed body and soul into the glory of heaven.” Citing Pope Adrian I, His Holiness Pope Pius XII records:
    Venerable to us, O Lord, is the festivity of this day on
    which the holy Mother of God suffered temporal death [SHE DIED], but still could not be
    kept down by the bonds of death, who has begotten your Son our Lord incarnate
    from herself.”

    “In explaining the
    grounds for the Church’s belief, Pius XII singled out the fact that Mary was
    the Mother of God; as the body of Christ originated from the body of Mary (caro Jesu est caro Mariae); that her body was preserved unimpaired in virginal integrity, and therefore it was fitting
    that it should not be subject to destruction after death [MARY DIED]; and that
    since Mary so closely shared in Christ’s redemptive mission on earth, she
    deserved to join him also in bodily glorification.” (Modern Catholic Dictionary, [Servant of God] John A. Hardon, S.J.,1980.)

    Also, “She died [SHE DIED] as she had lived, entirely detached from the things of the world; she died [SHE DIED] in the most perfect peace; she died [SHE DIED] in the certainty of eternal glory.” (The Glories of Mary, St. Alphonsus deLiguori.) Happy Feast of the Assumption! God bless us all.

  • Carol Dixon Klein

    I believe it was a true death…as Jesus died for us, she did also. She had lived her life for us as He did, and her soul flew up to Heaven with her beautiful, holy body. Thank you for the clarification. It made me happy because I believed but without an explanation.

  • Part of what is missing in the calculus of the original post, in my view, and in many comments below, is the appreciation of *why* Catholic Tradition so often speaks of Mary’s “death” before the dogma of the Assumption in 1950: The Assumption *itself* was not yet obligatory for belief by the faithful, so there was as yet no *requirement* to believe that Mary’s *body* was actually in Heaven.
    And thus it stands to reason that the thing that was “assumed” (pun intended) was that Mary had actually *died*. The pious tradition of the Assumption was certainly ancient, but because it was not obligatory there was no real reason to be all that precise about whether she had experienced death.
    It is only in 1950, when for all time it is declared that she *did* experience the “Assumption” itself, that it makes sense to wrestle with the question of whether she died or not. And thus Pius XII chooses *not* to make a resolution of that question a part of his definition.
    Which means the long-held tradition that she *did* die remains acceptable, while at the same time we can ponder, in light of the *dogma* of the Assumption, whether it is also fitting that she might *not* experience death.
    Another “both/and” for the Catholic faithful!

    • Dan

      I am rather new to the whole Marian “thing.” Sometimes a little uncertainty comes up when I pray the Rosary and get to #4&5 of the Glorious Mysteries. Mary assumed into heaven? Mary crowned? What helps me in these cases is to remember that Mary was the first disciple–the first to believe the Gospel–and in many ways the most intimate disciple, extremely closely connected to Jesus by carrying him in her womb. Therefore when I meditate on the assumption of Mary and the crowning of Mary, I also meditate on the fate of all those in Christ who will be resurrected like Christ to share in the glory of the Father in Heaven. I know that Mary is more than just a disciple, but sometimes when I am afraid that I might be worshiping Mary, I just remember that God does glorify His saints, including–and especially–Mary!

  • Dan

    I don’t know if the BVM died or not, but I am having a resurgence of devotion to her. I’ve noticed a couple of things that this devotion has brought about. The first is a greater appreciation for the “backstory” of the incarnation. God came into creation through a created being, Mary, and took on flesh. Truly, she is the Theotokos, mother of God. I have found that there is a mystical significance attached to this. Just as Christ came into the world through Mary, so we Christians in spiritual formation grow into spiritual maturity through Mary, the mother of the faithful. The second is a greater appreciation for women, purity, and motherhood. When I see a pregnant woman or a mother with young children, I now immediately think of Mary. Femininity and motherhood has taken on a greater significance for me, which has helped me in my walk with the Lord towards purity and holiness. As my respect for and devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary has increased, so has my respect for all women.

  • Nicholas Hardesty

    To support my previous comment, consider this from John Paul II’s General Audience on Wed., July 2, 1997:

    2. On 1 November 1950, in defining the dogma of the Assumption, Pius XII avoided using the term “resurrection” and did not take a position on the question of the Blessed Virgin’s death as a truth of faith. The Bull Munificentissimus Deus limits itself to affirming the elevation of Mary’s body to heavenly glory, declaring this truth a “divinely revealed dogma”.

  • Harold L Cokayne

    Question. If everything I truly need to know and do in life can be found in the Holy Scriptures.
    then why is there debate on the death and how Mary arrived in heaven.
    With this presented if it were important and Mary were die anything but a natural death it would have been in the Holy Scriptures….
    Simply put. the Holy Bible is the “complete” Word of God…

  • frjohnmorris

    You might find the Eastern Orthodox
    account of the Falling Asleep of the Theotokos (Birthgiver of God) and Ever Virgin Mary interesting.
    When Our Lady approach death all of the Apostles, except or St.
    Thomas were gathered together, some being transported miraculously
    with her. After she died, St. Thomas finally arrived and asked to see
    her holy body. They opened the tomb. It was empty and the Apostles
    had a vision of her ascending to Heaven.

    Archpriest John W. Morris

  • Pingback: Pastoral Sharings: "I came to cast fire upon the earth" | St. John()

  • JoeAllen

    quisut-Deus, you are a very deep thinker and a great blessing to this blog.

    I think you mis-understand the death of Adam and Eve. Hebrews 2: 14, says Satan invented DEATH. He used his ingenious invention to murder Adam and Eve. He is in the process of murdering you and me and the entire human race.

    I am a slow typist, so maybe we could talk by phone to reconcile some differences. You can phone me at 1-512-374-1500; if I am NOT available, you can leave your phone number on my answering machine. Thanks.

  • felipa

    well for a person like me with very little education about this some times let you with more confution

  • mayumi

    yes. Private revelations by the Blessed Virgin Mary to Ven Anne Catherine Emmerich’s contained in the latter’s book on the life of our Blessed Mother states that she did die and was later taken up body and soul to heaven.

  • Shirley SharkeyFeller

    Mary’s Heart was to be conformed to her son, Jesus in all things! Of course, she didn’t sin, just as Jesus! She is the first fruits of the RESURECTION FROM THE DEAD! In the book,”The Mystical City of God” by Venerable Mary of Agreda, 4-volume history of the Blessed Mary as revealed by our Lady to this 17 century Spanish nun, Mary revealed that Jesus gave her the choose to be assumed without dying, she was absolutely wanted to be united to Jesus in all things included her death!

  • newenglandsun

    Thank you for this writing. I was wondering how this could be reconciled with the recognition of Eastern Orthodoxy as truly Orthodox but now I see the assumption of Mary is really no different than the dormition of the Mother of God.

  • Br Denis Devcich

    Re Mary’s Death. I read once that Mary’s death may have been caused by her great desire to be united with her Son – this desire became so great that the bonds that hold the body and soul together were not strong enough to keep her soul united to her body. Ie ‘death by desire!’.
    Br Denis Devcich – MoGB

  • Franz

    Wisdom 2 : 23, 24
    1 Cor 15 : 56
    Word of God clearly states that Death has dominion only where there is Sin.
    If Holy Mother had no Sin at all, How did Death gain authority over her?

    • LT

      I would guess that it is because she had the option to refuse temporal death if she wished, but made her own choice to experience what her son experienced?

  • Loren Snesrud

    Hebrews 9:13 (which is God’s word) says that all men(and women ) will die and Rom 3 clearly says that all men(and women) have sinned against a Holy God. Is there any exceptions? I think not
    Loren Snesrud

    • And Romans 3:23 says that all have sinned. Mary is an exception to that, as well.

      • LT

        Jesus is an exception too.

    • Terry Fernando

      Consider what St. Paul says: “For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord…Then we which alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air.. (1 Thes 4: 15, 17).

  • Sceptical Catholic

    Obviously she’s dead but she probably has had a few lives like almost all of us has had. It’s just like some religions believing god is a man, some believing in a cow, some believing in the buddah etc; whether you believe she has reincarnated again or not – it’s what you believe and your beliefs are true to you. Just know there’s a God who brought Mary and Joseph together to produce the divine one but couldn’t announce pregnancy due to being unwed and God sent the angel Gabriel to tell her she was pregnant by the divine one but still couldn’t announce it yet. Look at the travelling distance to bethlem-she barely made it and gave birth right away and who’s to say he wasn’t 3 weeks overdue as my 3 girls were. Yes it’s hard but go with new facts not old untested stories. One other thing, ever wonder if people from the bible with their writings were ever mentally ill and untreatable- things that make you go hmmm.
    Sceptical Catholic

  • Hon. Kewu

    Hon. Kewu. I am so shocked to discover that the deception has advanced thus far. according to the bible, a false profit is one who says God has spoken, knowingly that He did not. Mary died like everyone who died and the bible holds no account about her death. that does not create a gap for speculations about her death. lastly, John the apostle, in a vision saw the heavenly door open, and he saw 24 elders and all the angels in their differing categories, but never saw a woman in there. If this assumption Mary was true, then I don’t believe he would have missed to see a woman (Mary) he once took care of (John 19:27, Rev 4:1-11). People should try church doctrines before believing and following them blindly, the life is theirs.

  • Jeff Matyas

    Mary was a human being devoid of sin. Human bodies die where the soul separates from body. But the Church teaches her body was assumed into Heaven in three days as her Son rose from the dead in three days. The world is filled with negative opinions about the Catholic Church, my faith rests with its teachings. If my family and I are blessed with salvation then soon I will know the truth, since Scott Hahn says it is a 100% probability we are not getting out of here alive.

  • Teresa

    Yes, I agree with the icons of Mary’s death as well as the explanations given -but why aren’t we “taught” this?-this perplexes me….

  • Frank

    Sorry,Mary died like all mankind.The scriptures state man is appointed once to die and then the resurrection. She will be resurrected with the rest of the believers at the second coming of Christ. Which should be soon. April 15th will be the first of four blood moons spoken of by Joel,Peter on the day of Pentecost and Jesus in Luke 11.Its called a tetra look it up under Blood moons.

  • Simon Naputo

    Hi Dr Marshall, I would like to ask, if Mother Mary died & resurrect in the 3rd day…Is her body also in Heaven? Just like his son Jesus Christ…

  • Marceli2012

    Jesus and Mary tombs are empty, no bones left! Will Jesus left mother to die?

  • Bob

    Does it matter what scripture says or do we just want to assume that someone’s opinion is God Breathed and that is what we should believe??

  • Richard Cacaldo

    I firmly believed that virgin Mary died and rose from death after three days both body and soul. Virgin Mary is my heavenly Mama forever. My soul desire that at the end-time, I’ll be with her forever in everlasting paradise.

  • Mordecai

    This doesn’t make any sense. It clearly states in the word that no one has been in heaven yet and if no one has been there yet why would they be there now John 3:13
    Also, There is no way they could be in heaven because they have not been judged yet(1 Corinthians 4:5)
    When you presume that Mary has entered into Heaven you are saying she has been judged already. But someone is not going to get judged right after they die, go to heaven, then at the end of time come back to be judged again because it says in the word and I’m sorry that I don’t remember where that we will be staying with Jesus in heaven.

  • usedtobeconservative

    “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” Don’t be beguiled by sophistry and equivocation into believing otherwise.

  • faith

    I do believe all of this happened

  • Miriam is alive but she is responsible for woman destruction. Miriam is alpha and omega first .

  • Voltaire

    I am convinced that Goldilocks did eat Baby Bear’s porridge and that it was “just right”.
    And yet some think its nonsense.

  • catherine

    that did not say anyrhing about why the vergin mother of god did not die can some one plz tell me how she dyed because i need it for school

  • Jim

    The Virgin Mary died. (Some of the early Church Fathers said that she had vanity, but she repented.) After the Apostles saw her body, her body was hidden by the Lord like Moses. Her soul and spirit are in celestial Paradise. She was not taken body and soul into Heaven. She will be resurrected like the other Saints and will live in the New Jerusalem eternally with Christ and the righteous.

  • Jim McCaffrey

    You stupid mackerel snappers. That mean catholics, mary did not die a virgin, jesus had brothers, its right in the Bible, do you really think Joseph never had sexual relations with his wife after Jesus was born. Or did he molest children like priests. Think use your brain the one God gave you read the Bible for yourself, praying to mary is a waste of time just like the saints. Pray to Jesus or God our father.you dont need a middle man to talk to god. Fuck priest and the pope.yea i said it.and i dont fear for my salvation, because Jesus died for my sins

  • princefreakasso

    Inconclusively concluded. Perhaps lacking in sufficient evidence.

  • Yes

    Jesus had sex with his mother that means she wasn’t a virgin?