Hello Belange.

You could reply that some things we are expected to just take on faith. We are supposed to BELIEVE. That means trusting things that Jesus said and did simply because He said they were so and not asking for proofs. Remember how He said that those without faith in some towns weren’t going to witness any miracles? That was because they were looking to those miracles for proof that God was Who He said He was. They were putting God to the test. We are also supposed to give the same kind of assent to the Church and her teachings as we’d give to Jesus if He were standing in front of us in a crowd and teaching. The teaching about Mary being Assumed body and soul into Heaven doesn’t require Biblical supports. Only those who are supportive of the Sola Scriptura doctrine of the Protestants need Biblical accounts. I don’t get the feeling your hubby has fallen that far away. He could simply be being contrary to get your goat. You know him best. My oldest daughter is sometimes like that - I say something is black and she automatically claims white is the right color, just to push my buttons. More than once I’ve said something was white to get her to agree that something was actually black, if you catch my drift. :rolleyes: Oh well. She got older and sometimes catches me when I do this. I go “Sue me, I’m human.” and she acts mad. Oh well.


Yes. This.^^

While, personally, I believe Mary did die before she was assumed the Church does not teach this. Catholics are bound to believe in the Assumption but we are free to believe Mary died or did not die first before being assumed.

Those fractions slowly come together. I had no idea that my husband was making tiny little steps this direction until one day out of he blue he announced that he was going to become a Catholic.

Advice from me to all Catholics who have non-Catholic spouses. Love the Church, Love your Spouse and let our Mother and the Holy Spirit work their wonders. I had never pressured or even thought that my husband would be the least bit interested in the Church.

Hello Thistle.

I’m unclear what you mean by “the Church doesn’t teach this.” Do you mean what I shared about my thoughts or that Mary died?


Actually I meant to respond to post #8 of the OP which talks about what happened after Mary died. I was simply explaining that while we are bound to believe in the Assumption Catholics are free to believe that Mary died or did not die first. The Church does not teach that Mary died before she was assumed, although personally I believe she did.


Pretty simple, actually. Unfortunately, it’s taken a turn for the worse in the English. Now it seems everyone is told to avoid the word.

Pro! What doing?
I just not got home from Church. We stopped by the post office and there was a stray kitten. Looked hungry…so we got a little tin of food and put it beside the sewer drain he was hiding in. He was chomping away when we drove off. He wouldn’t come to us, but he sure was cute. A black and white.

Thistle, I realize that you stated that you personally believe that she died. This is directed not at your personal belief, but at the concept that belief in her death is optional.

I frequently hear that from Latin Rite Catholics (Eastern Catholics firmly believe that Mary died and was in the tomb for 3 days), but I sometimes wonder how many who hold this view, that it is an open question, have read the document Munificentissimus Deus. Never in the document does Pope Pius XII discuss the idea that Mary didn’t die. On the other hand, he frequently references the teaching of the Fathers that she did. While it is true that the actual dogmatic statement does not explicitly mention her death, the document is a whole and should be read in context.

Citing Pope Adrian I, His Holiness Pope Pius XII records:Venerable to us, O Lord, is the festivity of this day on which the holy Mother of God suffered temporal death, but still could not be kept down by the bonds of death, who has begotten your Son our Lord incarnate from herself.”
Citing the Byzantine liturgy:As he kept you a virgin in childbirth,** thus he has kept your body incorrupt *in the tomb ***and has glorified it by his divine act of transferring it from the tomb.”
Citing Saint Modestus, the Holy Father writes:As the most glorious Mother of Christ, our Savior and God and the giver of life and immortality, has been endowed with life by him, **she has received an eternal incorruptibility of the body together with him who has raised her up ***from the tomb *and has taken her up to himself in a way known only to him.”
The citations employed by Pope Pius XII reveal that he believed and intended to show that the Immaculate Virgin Mary did in fact undergo death prior to her glorious Assumption.

In addition, the Byzantine liturgy, particularly vespers for the Feast of the Dormition, is explicit about her death.

The Roman office for the feast promulgated in 1950 when Pius XII dogmatized the Assumption, the fifth Matins lesson, quoting St. John of Damascus states:

[quote=]But she yielded obedience to the law established by him to whom she had given birth, and, as the daughter of the old Adam, underwent the old sentence, which even her Son, who is the very Life Itself, had not refused.

From Byzantine Vespers of the Dormition:

[quote=]Oh Marvelous Wonder! The fount of life has been laid in a tomb, and the grave has become a ladder leading to heaven.

The Dominican Rite also refers to her death in the collect for this feast:

Lex orandi, lex credendi.

I challenge you to find a statement from an early Church Father, East or West, who did not believe and teach that Mary died. I am not saying that it does not exist, but I have been unable to find one. On the contrary, numerous Fathers believed and taught in Mary’s Dormition (death) and bodily Assumption. The Dormition/Assumption is one of the oldest universal feasts in the Church.

While perhaps her death has not been dogmatically taught in an ex-Cathedra statement, her death is taught in numerous liturgies and documents. I have yet to see an official Church document or liturgy which teaches that she did not die. A teaching does not need to be formally defined by the Church in order for it to be universal truth. Non-dogmatic doctrines still require the assent of the will.

In this icon of the Dormiton, Christ is holding Mary’s soul, separate from her body.

The Catholic Church does not teach that Mary died before she was assumed and nor does it teach that Mary did not die before she was assumed. The Church allows Catholics to believe either way because the Church does not definitively know one way or the other. That’s one reason why the wording in Munificentissimus Deus “having completed the course of her earthly life” is stated very carefully because it can mean either way.

Whether a Church teaching is infallible or non-infallible Catholics are BOUND by both. We are NOT bound to believe Mary died before her Assumption.

Hello Babochka.

Thank you for your reply. Very factual and very good. You beat me to it. Good job.

Sorry Thistle. I agree with Babochka and the Church. Mary actually did die, but she was
Assumed that is why her tomb had no trace of her ever being in it. It is part of the usual “tour” you can take of the sites in Jerusalem.


Hello Thistle.

So then, you are saying that when Pope Pius XII says Mary died, he isn’t speaking for the Church nor is he teaching that Mary actually passed on? So who is the Church to you who can authoritatively teach about this Mystery? If it is not a Pope, Pius XII or some of the Popes mentioned in this thread, then who is it?


This, ( is how we learned it in RCIA.

I am saying the Catholic Church has no infallible nor non-infallible teaching about whether Mary died or did not die. If there were such a teaching all Catholics would be bound to believe it. We are not bound to believe it. We are free to believe either way.

The only part that binds us in Munificentissimus Deus by Pope Pius XII is para 44. Everything else is preamble including reference to some Church fathers who believed she died. We are NOT bound to believe Mary died.

You will also note in the CCC that the same careful wording is used which leaves death or no death open.

CCC 966 “Finally the Immaculate Virgin, preserved free from all stain of original sin, when the course of her earthly life was finished, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, so that she might be the more fully conformed to her Son, the Lord of lords and conqueror of sin and death.” The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin is a singular participation in her Son’s Resurrection and an anticipation of the resurrection of other Christians:

In giving birth you kept your virginity; in your Dormition you did not leave the world, O Mother of God, but were joined to the source of Life. You conceived the living God and, by your prayers, will deliver our souls from death.

While it is true that the Church does not teach that Mary did not die, the church does actually teach that Mary did die. We are catechized through the liturgy. Various liturgies, East and West, teach the fact of Mary’s physical death. The great feast of the Eastern Church, the Dormition of the Mother of God, focuses on her Dormition (falling asleep is common terminology in the East for Christian death) and her Assumption into heaven. Munificentissimus Deus teaches Mary’s death. We are required to believe (give assent of the will) to truths of the faith, even if they have not been dogmatically defined.

[quote=]Whether a Church teaching is infallible or non-infallible Catholics are BOUND by both.

Correct. So, now that I have demonstrated that the Church does, indeed, teach the fact of Mary’s death, we are in agreement? :thumbsup:

Old joke; really, really, old joke . . .

As opposed to presumption, for example?

I remember a banner in a Northwestern University chapel which read "We all assume one of the thieves went to heaven. Can we presume the other one didn’t? "

Point is perhaps we overanalyze the English words a little too much.

Do you realize that the term Dormition (sleeping) means death? St. Paul used “asleep in the Lord” to describe Christians who were dead, but awaiting resurrection; it has been used historically, and Eastern Christians to this day use the terminology. I’m certain that the writers of the Catechism, who chose to include the Troparion of the Feast of the Dormition, understood that. If the Catechism is going to quote the Byzantine Liturgy, it is reasonable to assume that the Catechism intends the Byzantine interpretation of the text. The Byzantine tradition and teaching is unequivocal: Mary died and was buried in the tomb prior to her assumption into heaven. So there you have it, right from the Catechism. The Church teaches the fact of Mary’s death.

The Dogma of the Assumption did not deal with the Dormition because it was not a necessary part of it. The religious truth involved in the proclaimed dogma is not Mary’s manner of death, but the reality of the Assumption. This does not make her dormition any less true, or not taught by the Church.

We are NOT in agreement. A teaching does not have to be dogmatic to bind Catholics. Non-infallible teachings bind us as well. There is no non-infallible teaching that Mary died or did not die.

I repeat that Munificentissimus Deus does NOT TEACH Mary died otherwise we would be bound by that. We are not. The reference in MD is simply a preamble about some Church fathers who believed she died (this is tradition with a small t). That is NOT A TEACHING. The CHURCH has no position on this.
The ONLY teaching in MD is the Assumption of Mary and nothing else.

As I said in earlier posts I personally believe she died first. However, as there is no binding teaching on the matter I cannot say to other Catholics you must believe Mary died.

I’ve given the link to Father Saunders’ article at EWTN, in which he states (Note that the solemn definition does not specify whether Mary physically died before being assumed or just was assumed; it simply states, “Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life…”)

I was being facetious. Apparently the emoticon didn’t adequately convey that.

[quote=]A teaching does not have to be dogmatic to bind Catholics. Non-infallible teachings bind us as well. There is no non-infallible teaching that Mary died or did not die.

Ok, let me take this from a different angle. I’m really trying not to be argumentative here, I would actually like to understand. If the liturgical texts do not constitute Church teaching, how do you define teaching that would be non-infalible, but binding? If liturgical texts do not teach us what the Church teaches, what do they do?

[quote=]I repeat that Munificentissimus Deus does NOT TEACH Mary died otherwise we would be bound by that. We are not.
The reference in MD is simply a preamble about some Church fathers who believed she died (this is tradition with a small t). That is NOT A TEACHING. The CHURCH has no position on this.
The ONLY teaching in MD is the Assumption of Mary and nothing else.


It seems to me that Munificentissimus Deus was deliberately narrow and specific, as Dogmatic definitions should be. The fact that her death was not included in the definition indicates to me that it was not critical to the dogma being defined, not that the Church has no position on her death (or lack thereof). The definition of the dogma had a purpose: " Finally it is our hope that belief in Mary’s bodily Assumption into Heaven will make our belief in our own resurrection stronger and render it more effective." The Pope didn’t need to define details of her death in order to accomplish this goal.

Read more:

Do you happen to know the history of this belief that Mary did not die? The first time I had ever heard of the concept was when I went to hear Fr. Donald Calloway speak about a year ago. It stunned me, because I come from an Eastern background with such a strong tradition of celebrating the Dormition. I’ve researched it a lot since then, and I honestly have found nothing to indicate where it comes from, when it started, or what “evidence” is there to support it. Evidence for belief in Mary’s death is strong. We have her tomb, the ancient liturgical texts, the writings of the Fathers. Everywhere I read, it explains that the common belief is that she died, with the caveat that Catholics are free to believe that she did not. I struggle with this, because every official Church source that I read indicates that she did die, from liturgies both East and West to Munificentissimus Deus. Yes, while you state that the only “teaching” in MD is the dogmatic definition, it strongly states, while quoting those who have gone before, that Mary did die. It does not give so much as a nod to the idea that she did not die. In fact, I have yet to find any liturgical reference to her Assumption that specifically says that she did not die. Since there is such a lack of evidence, who are these people who believe that Mary did not die? Are there popes who have believed (and taught) this? Do some Bishops believe this? Theologians? Or is this simply a popular belief among the laity?

Perhaps I’m coming at this from an Eastern perspective in a Western world, Our liturgy is strongly catechetical. Liturgy is how we are formed, how our beliefs are shaped and informs our understanding of the faith. If this is not the teaching of the Church, what is? Encyclicals and other official documents? They don’t necessarily contain binding teaching, but they do contain teaching. But the liturgy is our treasure of catechesis - our beliefs encapsulated by past generations to pass the faith on to the future. It is only in recent times that ordinary laity have taken to reading papal encyclicals and pronouncements. In the past, we (in the East at least) have learned our faith primarily from the liturgy.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit