Pope Pius XII and the Assumption, by Joannie Watson

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By Joannie Watson, Integrated Catholic, August 13, 2021

Joan Watson was born and raised in Lafayette, Indiana, but college and graduate school took her to Virginia, Ohio, and Rome. …

“The beginning of the twentieth century witnessed extraordinary attacks on the truth that underlies this dogma…”

Joannie WatsonPope Pius XII declared in 1950, “The Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory” (Munificentissimus Deus, 44). While this is a revealed truth (we could not know this without God’s revelation), it naturally follows from an understanding of the Immaculate Conception. “She, by an entirely unique privilege, completely overcame sin by her Immaculate Conception, and as a result she was not subject to the law of remaining in the corruption of the grave, and she did not have to wait until the end of time for the redemption of her body”(MD, 5).

If Pius XII declared this truth in 1950, does that mean we only began believing it in 1950? No; in fact, the feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos is one of the oldest feasts of Mary, celebrated on August 15 in the entire Byzantine Empire beginning in the sixth century. The roots of the feast are even older; they can be traced back to Jerusalem in the first century, when Christians made pilgrimages to her empty tomb and celebrated this great mystery. …

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