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This is the account of the bodily falling asleep of the Mother of God, the Ever Virgin Mary, who brings blessings to all who bless her. For even to listen to the account of this glorious happening is truly in itself a joy.

When Christ had willed that His mother should be taken up to Himself, He notified her through an angel that the time of her falling asleep was now at hand, so that she may not be troubled at her departure from the living, as what ordinarily happens to mortal man. For we know that the separation of the soul from the body can bring distress of spirit of even the strong man.

An Angel Appears to Mary.

Thus, the angel spoke Christ's message to Mary: "It is time to take you, My mother. You have filled the earth with joy; now fill the heavens with joy as the saints behold God honoring you."

"Do not be troubled leaving behind a world corrupted by its desire. And, as I take care of those in the world but are not of this world, so shall your protection, likewise, be not wanting to this world until it ends."

"Come with eagerness to Him that was born of thee. As a child I desired to give thee joy for your womb that sheltered Me, for your milk that fed Me, for the care you lavished on Me."

"I proclaim thee to be a wall to defend the world, a rampant against floods, a staff to those led by thy hand, an advocate for sinners, a stairway to lead men safely to heaven."

"As you recline in thy tomb in Gethsemani, and that only for outward appearance, I shall come to you at once even before you are laid down in the tomb."

"And behold, My disciples are coming to take care of you and, by their hands, these spiritual sons shall carry thee forth."

Mary and Her Friends.

Mary rejoiced at these words and at once set great lights all around the house, swept the floor, set flowers and called together her friends and relatives.

She made known to all of her departure and showed them the pledge the angel had given her, a palm branch, a symbol of victory and pledge of unfading life.

As her friends wept, Mary spoke: "If you as parents cannot even for a moment endure separation from your mortal children, born of earthly union, what more of me who has begotten the Son of God whom I so dearly love. How can I stand so long a separation from Him?"

Mary and the Apostles.

And while she was yet speaking, there came suddenly the sound of thunder, rain began to fall and the apostles began to arrive. And, seeing her, they greeted her most lovingly. And, learning the reason for their coming home, they addressed her with these words: "You have always filled us with joy. Now we are grieved by your departure. But we know you are eager to go to your Son and to your God. We pray this will come to pass without delay. For in you we shall find a MEDIATRIX with God. It is not fitting that the mother of God should linger here in the midst of an evil and perverse generation. She should be in heavenly mansions." Though they were saying this, they were inconsolable and in tears.

Seeing them thus, Mary spoke: "Rejoice. Do not turn my joy into sorrow. Let me compose my body upon my bed and let you take charge of it. For my body in your hands is like being laid in My son's hands."

St. Paul arrives.

In the midst of these happenings, Paul arrived. Knocking at the door, he was met by John. At the sight of Paul, the apostles rejoiced. Seeing the virgin, Paul threw himself at her feet. And when he learned the reason for her coming, he spoke with a great and sorrowful groan:

"Hail, thou the fulfillment of all that I seek in the souls of men. Beholding thee, I behold Christ. My longing to see Christ is fulfilled in beholding thy face. From hereon I shall preach to the Gentiles that thou has crossed over to Him and that their salvation shall be assured by thy intercession because of thy unshakable power with God.

Mary Lies Down to Sleep.

Then Mary took leave of them all, entered her private chamber, lay down on her bed and, composing her body, as though in a sleep, she breathed forth her spirit.

Peter exhorted Paul to say the accustomed prayers. But Paul made signs of refusal saying that Peter, the chief Pastor, should do this. So Peter offered the prayers. Following this, the other apostles, raising the bier upon their shoulders, bore the body of the Virgin to the tomb. A great multitude accompanied them. And this caused wonderment spreading through all Jerusalem. So the story is well known to all.

An Evil Person.

An evil man, standing among the multitude, stretched forth his hands to shake the bier, rashly attempting to lay hands on the body of the Immaculate Virgin. On the instant, both his hands wilted and fell off from the body. This caused great fear and trembling among the Jews.

The Assumption.

The procession drew near the resting place. The apostles held back with reverence and holy fear from touching the body of the Virgin. Everyone was eager to seize some portion of the linen as a blessed relic but no one dared lay hands on it.

Then, by common choice, Peter and Paul, taking hold of an end of the linen sheet, raised the sacred body  and was about to place it in the tomb. And while the weight of the sacred body still rested on the sheet, the immaculate body of the Virgin was suddenly borne away. Who seized it, no one saw. It was the invisible and unseen God. The linen sheet was then swept upwards from the hands of the apostles by a sudden wind and was seen moving like a cloud in the sky.

The Apostles declare the Doctrine.

The apostles now turned to the people and spoke: "Everything has been shown to you concerning Mary. That she, whom you together with us was brought to the tomb as one dead has been taken up out of our hands. Let no one, therefore, show himself as unbelieving in this matter. Be witnesses to what you have seen. Behold the place where we laid the virgin. The Mother of Life has been assumed and her burial linen has gone to seek her.

Mary, the ever Immaculate Virgin, is now in heaven, not as an ordinary saint, not even as a special saint. She is in heaven as the Beloved Daughter of God the Father, the chaste Spouse of God the Holy Spirit, and the Mother of God the Son. This is more than enough reason for her to be in heaven, body and soul.

Thus, I, Germanus, will end my discourse in honour of her feast.

St. Germanus, Patriarch of Constantinople (A.D. 730)





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