Did Mary die physically before being assumed into heaven? Does the Church take a stand on this?
Although many theologians accept that Mary did die, the Church has not made a decision on the matter. Note the careful wording of Munificentissimus Deus, in which Pius XII promulgated the dogma of her Assumption:
“**y our own authority, we pronounce, declare, and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma: that 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” (emphasis added).
Complete freedom from sin meant that Mary was not subject to sin’s consequence of death, but it would have been fitting for her to experience physical death as did her Son who was also not subject to death but chose to accept it. In the Eastern rites of the Church, and in Eastern Orthodox churches, Mary’s death (or “falling asleep”), resurrection, and glorification is called the Dormition.**