The mother of Jesus, also known as the mother of God. Many Christians view her with love and hope. They turn to our heavenly mother at all times of their lives asking her for assistance, even at times of crisis.
From the first through the fifteenth of August, many parishes around the world have a paraklesis (intercessory prayers) both small and great dedicated to the ever virgin Mary. Many of us go to church to participate in these services. We view her as being our own mother, someone who takes care of us, watches over us, granting our prayers that lead to our salvation.
Where did these celebrations of the virgin Mary come from? There is no scriptural basis for this holiday. There are other books which tell us the story of the falling asleep of the virgin Mary called apocrypha (the hidden books).
The story of the falling asleep of the mother of God and ever virgin Mary did not start appearing till the fifth century of the church. Epiphanius of Salamis a Jew from Phoenicia who became a christian as an adult writes about the falling asleep of the virgin Mary. He mentions that there is no scriptural reference to the falling asleep of the mother of God. Even the celebration of the falling asleep of the mother of God was not observed in the early church.
There were several beliefs that held that the mother of God died of natural causes. Others have speculated that she died a martyrs death because the evangelist speaks how ‘a sword shall pierce your heart’. The early church was not quite sure, yet they knew that her falling asleep was celebrated but not as a major holiday.
Tales of the falling asleep of the mother of God did not start appearing till about the 5th and 6th century of the church in a series of writings called the apocrypha. There are several stories about her death. It wasn’t till the emperor Maurice (582 – 602) that he issued an edict that the falling asleep of the mother God will be celebrated on the 15th of August. Since that time, the celebration has been maintained in the church.
The Orthodox church and the Roman Catholic church differ in that the Orthodox call it the Dormition of the ever virgin Mary. The Roman Catholic church refers to the same feast as the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. The only issue that exists with this understanding is that Dormition and Assumption are two different meanings as well as two separate celebrations.
In the Roman Catholic church, they believe that the body of the every virgin Mary was assumed into heaven on this day. We as Orthodox Christians celebrate this day as the day she fell asleep in hope of the resurrection.
Account of the Dormition of the Mother of God
At the time of Her blessed Falling Asleep, the Most Holy Virgin Mary was again at Jerusalem. Her fame as the Mother of God had already spread throughout the land and had aroused many of the envious and the spiteful against Her. They wanted to make attempts on Her life; but God preserved Her from enemies.
Day and night She spent her time in prayer. The Most Holy Theotokos went often to the Holy Sepulchre of the Lord, and here She offered up fervent prayer. More than once, enemies of the Savior sought to hinder Her from visiting her holy place, and they asked the High Priest for a guard to watch over the Grave of the Lord. The Holy Virgin continued to pray right in front of them, yet unseen by anyone.