On August 15th., we commemorate the death of Mary the Theotokos (Mother of God or God-bearer.) The Latin root word of Dormition is dormire, meaning “to sleep.” Mary is our example of a trusted and faithful servant of God sharing intimately in the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
Although scripture doesn’t record the time or manner of her death, history (or tradition) informs us that Mary remained in the care of the Apostle John and that she lived eleven years after the death of her Son. During John’s missionary journeys, she lived in the home of his parents, near the Mount of Olives. A source of consolation to all believers, Mary nurtured the fledgling Church with her prayers, conversation, and presence.
There are many traditions regarding the end of Mary’s life, but much remains a mystery. Three common themes, recorded in the Transitus Narratives, written at the turn of the 5th and 6th centuries, are that Mary was informed of her approaching death by the Angel Gabriel, that the Apostles miraculously appeared at her bedside and that Christ, Himself, came as a Child to receive and transport her soul to heaven. Sometime after the funeral and burial, the Apostles witnessed her body taken up to heaven, and reunited with her soul.
The following is a quote from a General Audience given by Pope John Paul II on June 25, 1997:
“It is more important to look for the Blessed Virgin’s spiritual attitude at the moment of her departure from this world. In this regard, St. Francis de Sales maintains that Mary’s death was due to a transport of love. He speaks of a dying ‘in love, from love, and through love.’