by Fr. Kevin Joshua Cosme
Did Mary die before she was assumed into heaven?
Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary. In 1950, Pope Pius XII declared in his apostolic constitution Munificentissimus Deus that Mary, “having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.” He defined this as a dogma, meaning that it is binding for all Catholics to believe it.
But what the Pope didn’t clarify is whether Mary died or not before her assumption (“having completed the course of her earthly life”). Think about it. St. Paul says that “the wages of sin is death” (Rom 6:23). But if Mary was sinless, she didn’t have to die now, did she?
The Assumption of Mary in Santa Maria Immacolata, Rome | photo by Livioandronico
The Bible is silent on Mary’s fate after Pentecost and the Church has never officially asserted whether she died or not, so Catholics are free to believe either possibility. However, over the centuries, the prevailing consensus is that Mary did die first - not due to sin, but in oneness with her Son who, although He was also sinless, did not have to undergo death but still chose to do so for our sake.
In any case, it has been the common consensus of Christians throughout the centuries that Mary was assumed into heaven. While it is not explicit in the Bible, the themes are certainly there. Mary is “full of grace”. She is also identified as the “woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head, a crown of twelve stars.”
Flex our Faith Episode 5: The Assumption | Aired on August 15, 2021