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Historical information about the Assumption #332627 09/17/09 08:20 AM
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Hieromonk Ambrose Offline OP
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Here's an interesting historical account of the Assumption - The Dormition..... You might say this is a case of knowing how to keep a secret. The history of the end of Mary's life was genuinely new to most of the Church when it was made public in the fifth century. The facts of the matter were kept private among the clergy of the Jerusalem Church, and only became public during the Council of Chalcedon. This was a case where there was a Tradition - a passing-along of knowledge - that was intentionally kept private. I personally suspect the remarkable near-silence of Scripture about the Mother of God was deliberate on the part of the Apostles; St John (her guardian) and the rest of the Evangelists kept her privacy.

The more picturesque details of the "transitus Mariae" literature had yet to be developed, but in the late 5th century some basic information was revealed by the Jerusalem clergy. I'm attaching a quote from the "Euthymiac History" quoted by St John of Damascus, for details.

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In his second homily on the Dormition of the Mother of God, Saint John of Damascus refers to events recounted in the 40th chapter of the Life of St Euthymios:

It was said above that Saint Pulcheria erected many churches for Christ in Constantinople. One of these is the church in Blachernae, built at the beginning of the reign of the divinely-appointed Emperor Marcian . When the two of them built a worthy house there for the all-glorious and all-holy
Mother of God, the ever-virgin Mary, and adorned it with every sort of decoration, they hoped to find her holy body, which had been the dwelling-place of God. And summoning Juvenal, the Archbishop of Jerusalem, and those bishops from Palestine who were staying in the capital because of the synod then being held in Chalcedon , they said to them: We have heard that the first and most outstanding church of the all-holy Mother of God, the ever-virgin Mary, is in Jerusalem, in the place called Gethsemane, where her life-giving body was put in a coffin. We now wish to bring this relic here, to protect this royal city."

Re: Historical information about the Assumption [Re: Hieromonk Ambrose] #332628 09/17/09 08:23 AM
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Juvenal answered on behalf of them all:

"There is nothing in the holy, inspired Scripture about the death of Mary, the holy Mother of God; but we know from ancient and wholly reliable tradition that at the time she so gloriously fell asleep, all the holy Apostles who were traveling the world for the salvation of the peoples were lifted up in a single instant of time and were gathered at Jerusalem. And as they stood by her, they saw a vision of angels, and heard the divine chanting of the higher powers. So it was that she gave her soul in an ineffable way into God's hands, surrounded by the glory of God and all heaven.

"Her body, which had been God's dwelling place, was brought for burial amidst the singing of the angels and the Apostles, and laid to rest in a coffin in Gethsemane; and the angelic dancing and singing continued without pause in that place for three days. But after three days the song of the angels ceased; the Apostles were there, and since one of them - Thomas - had not been present and came at he end of three days, and wished to reverence that body which had housed God, they opened the coffin. And they could not find her body, which had been the object of such praise; all that they found were her burial wrappings. And being overcome by the ineffable fragrance that came out of the wrappings, they closed the coffin again.

"Amazed by this miraculous discovery, they could only draw a single conclusion: The one who had deigned to become flesh in her own person and to take his humanity from her, the one who willed to be born in human flesh as God the Word, the Lord of glory, and who had preserved her virginity intact even after childbirth, now chose, after her departure from this world, to honour her pure and immaculate body with the gift of incorruptibility, and with a change of state even before the common, universal resurrection."

When the imperial couple heard this, they asked Archbishop Juvenal to send them the holy coffin, properly sealed, with the funeral garments in it of the glorious, all-holy Mary, Mother of God. And when he had sent it, they placed it in the church of the holy Theotokos that had been built at Blachernae [a suburb of Constantinople.]

-oOo-

Re: Historical information about the Assumption [Re: Hieromonk Ambrose] #332630 09/17/09 08:56 AM
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Alfonsus Offline
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Then, are the coffin and the burial wrap still in existence somewhere?

Re: Historical information about the Assumption [Re: Alfonsus] #332631 09/17/09 09:03 AM
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Hieromonk Ambrose Offline OP
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Originally Posted by Alfonsus
Then, are the coffin and the burial wrap still in existence somewhere?


They were venerated in Constantinople. I do not know if they are still there. Many holy relics were taken to Italy and France during the decades when the Crusaders were in control of the city. We have to check if they are now in a Western church?

Re: Historical information about the Assumption [Re: Hieromonk Ambrose] #332683 09/17/09 10:40 PM
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columba Offline
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Hi,

Years ago (I am old and a Roman Catholic) I was speaking with someone who identified himself as belonging to the Church of Ephesus. He said, they had blessed Mother's "girdle"
that she'd cast down when she was assumed into heaven. Our own belief is rooted in faith and Tradition.

Columba


Re: Historical information about the Assumption [Re: Hieromonk Ambrose] #332697 09/18/09 02:17 AM
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If so this is interesting, especially from scientific perspective.
Although we have things we claim truly of Jesus, like the true cross relic, nails, burial cloth, we have very little about Mary.

Things like is the coffin and burial cloth really of first century, for instance.

I know these things are not necessary for our faith.
But never the less I don't think it is nice also to venerate and bless people using relics which hardly verifiable.


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