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Ave Maria!
On the Assumption or "Dormition" of the
Blessed Virgin Mother of God


Plan: 1. Tomb of the Virgin; 2. Grotto of Gethsemane; 3. Garden of Olives; 4. Basilica of the Agony.
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Ordinary of the Mass
Mass Text - Latin
Mass Text - English
Blessing of First Fruits

    Today, instead of a sermon in the conventional sense, I am going to read to you what Church historians believe to be earliest account of our Lady's bodily Assumption into Heaven—a doctrine of the Faith declared only last century, but universally believed throughout the Eastern and Western Churches since the earliest days.

From The Book of the Passing of the Most Holy Virgin, the Mother of God
St. Melito of Sardis, Bishop (circa 180 A.D.)

    And lo, suddenly by the commandment of God all the apostles were lifted up on a cloud and caught away from the places where they were preaching and set down before the door of the house wherein Mary dwelt.... And on the third day, about the third hour of the day ... suddenly the Lord Jesus Christ came with a great multitude of angels, and a great light came down upon the place, and the angels were singing hymns and praising the Lord. Then the Savior spoke, saying: "Come thou, most precious pearl, enter into the treasury of eternal life...."

    And as the Lord [concluded His discourse], Mary arose from the pavement and laid herself upon her bed, and giving thanks to God she gave up the ghost. But the apostles saw her soul, that it was of such whiteness that no tongue of mortal men can worthily express it, for it excelled all whiteness of snow and of all metal and silver that glitters with great brightness of light.

    Then the Savior spoke, saying: Arise Peter, and take the body of Mary and bear it unto the right-hand side of the city toward the east, and thou wilt find there a new sepulchre where ye shall place it, and wait till I come unto you. And when the Lord had so said, He delivered the soul of the holy Mary to Michael, who was set over paradise and is the prince of the people of the Jews: and Gabriel went with them. And immediately the Savior was received up into heaven with the angels....

    Then therefore the apostles laid the holy body upon a bier and said to one another: "Who shall bear the palm before her bier? Then John said to Peter: "Thou who art before us in the apostleship ought to bear this palm before her bed." And Peter answered him: "Thou only of us art a virgin chosen of the Lord, and hast found such favor that thou didst lie on His breast: and when He hung for our salvation on the tree of the cross, committed her unto thee with His own mouth. Thou therefore ought to carry this palm; and let us take up the body to bear it unto the place of the sepulchre." Therefore Peter lifted up the head of the body and began to sing, saying: "Israel is come out of Egypt, alleluia." And with him the other apostles bore the body of the blessed Mary, and John carried the palm of light before the bier. And the rest of the apostles sang with exceedingly sweet voices....

    The apostles carrying Mary came into the place of the valley of Josaphat, where the Lord had showed them, and laid her in a new tomb and shut the sepulchre. But they sat down at the door of the tomb as the Lord had charged them: and lo, suddenly the Lord Jesus Christ came with a great multitude of angels, and light flashing with great brightness, and said to the apostles: "Peace be with you." And they answered and said: "Let Thy mercy, O Lord, be upon us, for we have hoped in Thee."

    Then the Savior spoke unto them, saying: "Before I ascended up unto My Father, I promised you, saying that ye who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man shall sit on the throne of His majesty, ye also shall sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. Now this woman did I choose out of the tribes of Israel by the commandment of My Father, to dwell in her. What then will ye that I do with her?" Then said Peter and the other apostles: "Lord, Thou didst choose this Thine handmaid to become Thine immaculate chamber, and us Thy servants for Thy ministry. All things didst Thou foreknow before the words of Thy Father, with whom to Thee and the Holy Ghost there belongeth equal Godhead and infinite power. If therefore it might come to pass before the power of Thy grace, it appears right to us Thy servants that, as Thou having overcome death now reign in glory, so shouldst Thou raise up the body of Thy mother and take her with Thee rejoicing into heaven.

    The Savior commanded Michael the archangel to bring the soul of the holy Mary. And behold, Michael the archangel rolled the stone from the door of the sepulchre, and the Lord said: "Rise up my love and my kinswoman: thou that didst not suffer corruption by union of the flesh, shall not suffer dissolution of the body in the sepulchre." And immediately Mary rose up from the grave and blessed the Lord, and fell at the Lord's feet, and worshipped Him, saying: "I am not able to render Thee worthy thanks, O Lord, for Thine innumerable benefits which Thou hast granted me, Thine handmaid. Let Thy name be blessed forever, redeemer of the world, thou God of Israel."

    And the Lord kissed her and departed, and delivered her unto the angels to bear her into paradise. And He said to the apostles: "Come near unto Me"; and when they had come near, He kissed them and said: "Peace be unto you; as I have been always with you, so will I be, even unto the end of the world."

    And immediately when the Lord had so said, He was lifted up in a cloud and received into heaven, and the angels with Him, bearing the blessed Mary into the paradise of God.


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