Did Mary Die?


Tonight at a family gathering we were discussing “The Feast of the Assumption”. I understand Mary’s body & soul were assumed into heaven. However, did Mary experience a natural death first before she was assumed into Heaven? Just wondering…


The Church has never defined the nature of Our Lady’s passing.


Western Tradition places the emphasis upon Mary’s Assumption, while Eastern Tradition focuses more on the Dormition of Mary, in which she died, was buried, and subsequently resurrected (before her body experienced corruption) and glorified just as her Son had been.

*From the Tradition of the Church
Following the day of Pentecost, the Theotokos remained in the city of Jerusalem, comforting the infant Christian community. She was living in the house of the beloved Apostle John, later the Evangelist. At the time of her death (tradition states she was in her early fifties) many of the Apostles were scattered throughout the world preaching the Gospel. All but Thomas were miraculously brought to the Virgin aloft on clouds.

As they stood around her bedside, she commended her spirit to the Lord and Jesus descended from Heaven, taking up her soul in His arms. The Apostles sang the funeral hymns in her honor and carried her body to a tomb in Cedron near Gethsemane. When a Jewish man tried to interrupt their solemn procession, an angel of the Lord came and punished him by cutting off his hands, which were later healed.

The Apostle Thomas arrived on the third day and wished to see the Virgin for the last time. They discovered an empty tomb. Church tradition relates that the Theotokos was resurrected bodily and taken to heaven, the same reward that awaits all the righteous on the Last Day.*

Other Sources:


I actually wrote a term paper on this in college and wasn’t burned for heresy. You need to consider the definition of death as the separation of body and soul. If we believe that her body underwent an instantaneous substantial change (from earthly to heavenly body, as understood by Aquinas), then you could consider it something like death in an instant.

The Eastern tradition is more interesting if it allows for a lapse in time between death and resurrection, and yet they still call it the Dormition … the falling asleep.

As long as we believe she was taken up to heaven body and soul, we can refer to it as death, but that is not very common. It is interesting also that Heaven holds at least three corporal bodies … Our Lord, Our Lady, and Elijah. Does this mean it is a physical location?

There are still some things Catholics can debate about the faith.


It is not true that the Church has not defined whether or not the Theotokos passed away.

The Byzantine texts are VERY clear on the fact that she suffered physical death.

Furthermore in the Latin Office for 15 August promulgated by Pope Pius XII at the time of the definition of this doctrine, one of the Matins lessons from St. John of Damascus unambiguously states that she could in no way differ from her Divine Son in suffering the fate of mortals, that is death. “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 the fifth Matins lesson). Lex orandi, lex credendi. If it’s in the liturgical formularies of the Church, it’s the teaching of the Church.

In addition, St. John of Damascus also said, “It was neccessary that she who had preserved her virginity inviolate in childbirth should also have her body kept free from all corruption after death.”

I don’t see how human language can be clearer than this.


Probably chatter 163 and bpbasilbpx are both right and the key is the word “definition”.
Personally I share bpbasilbpx’s position, but fairly I don’t think the quoted documents could be equivalent to a DEFINITION properly said, binding Church’s Magisterium.
In my sensibility, the word “Dormition” is splendidly expressive.


And Enoch. Don’t forget Enoch…

Genesis 5:24: "Then Enoch walked with God, and he was no longer here, for God took him."
Hebrews 11:5: "By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and “he was found no more because God had taken him.”

And yes, to a certain extent this does mean that Heaven is a physical location (or is capable of containing physical bodies), although it is not at all necessarily within this universe.


As long as we believe she was taken up to heaven body and soul, we can refer to it as death, but that is not very common. It is interesting also that Heaven holds at least three corporal bodies … Our Lord, Our Lady, and Elijah. Does this mean it is a physical location?

And Enoch. BUT, Elijah and Enoch’s being taken up are different.

They are not Glorified, nor strictly speaking in “heaven”…though it is the tradition of the Church that God lets them know our prayers and we can treat them like Saints.

But technically, Elijah and Enoch never died, and are being kept suspended somewhere, not like Jesus and Mary…but instead to be brought down during the Last Days as the Two Witnesses of the book of Revelations, suffer a glorious martyrdom, and THEN die and rise to glory like everyone else.

So Jesus-Mary is sort of a different situation than Elijah-Enoch. Christ and Mary have died, risen, and been glorified into their final state and have the beatific vision.

Elijah and Enoch were taken up to be preserved somewhere, true, and God reveals our prayers to them…but they have yet to return, die as martyrs, at that point attain heaven strictly speaking, and then rise at the general resurrection, which should follow quickly upon their martyrdom by antichrist.

So, bit of a different situation.

But Mary certainly did die. It was not part of the dogmatic definition, because no one ever questioned it. The document presupposes that she did, and though not officially defined extraordinarily as such yet, it is certainly the constant teaching of the ordinary magisterium and Tradition that she did die.

Roman Catholics emphasize the Assumption, Eastern Catholics and the Orthodox emphasize the Dormition. But both are part of the same mystery, and both are important Truths.


There is an article:
Jesus Lived in India- Holger Kersten

This article is a summary of Kersten’s exhaustive research into Christ’s travels after the Crucifixion, his arrival in India with the Mother Mary and finally his death and entombment in Kashmir.

He writes:

“The historian Mullah Nadini (1413) also recounts a story of Yuz Asaf who was a contemporary to King Gopadatta, and confirms that he also used the name Issar, ie. Jesus. There is also much historical truth in the towns and villages of Northern India to prove that Jesus and his mother Mary spent time in the area. For instance, at the border of a small town called Mari, there is nearby a mountain called Pindi Point, upon which is an old tomb called Mai Mari da Asthan or “The final resting place of Mary”. The tomb is said to be very old and local Muslims venerate it as the grave of Issa’s (ie Christ’s) Mother. The tomb itself is oriented East-West consistent with the Jewish tradition, despite the fact it is within a Muslim area. Assuming its antiquity, such a tomb could not be Hindu either since the Hindus contemporary to Christ cremated their dead and scattered their ashes as do Hindus today.”

I think it is a new information and reasonable one, must be looked into.



This Discussion already happened loads of times.

I asked the same question a few months ago.

Here’s the link- got some good answers too!


Huh? What then do you make of nearly 2,000 years of traditional Catholic teaching on the Death and Resurrection of Our Lord?


Ancient Traditions of the Virgin Mary’s Dormition and Assumption by Shoemaker, Stephen

This author documents over 60 stories about the end of Mary’s life in 9 ancient languages. Some say she died others say she did not die thus the church wisely will not speak authoritivty on this because of the contradicting stories in authoritive sources.


At the risk of de-railing this thread (which I truly hope we will be able to avoid)… WHAT?

Assuming for the moment that there actually WILL be Two Witnesses martyred by the Antichrist in the Last Days, and that those events described in Revalation have not already taken place and/or refer to something more symbolic, I’m highly certain that the Church has always believed that Enoch and Elijah did in fact enter into Heaven (from the Limbo of the Fathers) when Christ re-opened the gates to Heaven with His sacrifice.

If you have documentation to the contrary, however, I would certainly love to see it… :confused:


If Elijah and Enoch are going to be martyred…it means they haven’t died, and it means they must still be able to merit.

Once one obtains the beatific vision, the possibility of merit is over.

So while they are preserved in a paradisical state and pray for us as Saints…it can’t strictly speaking be heaven proper yet, or else their martyrdoms would not be meritorious, which would sort of defeat the purpose.

Also, all mankind will die. It is a universal rule, and it is something of a prequesite for being individually judged and granted heaven.

And tradition IS that Elijah and Enoch are the Two Witnesses. Catholic Encyclopedia says in its article on the Last Judgment:

3. Return of Enoch and Elijah

The belief that these two men, who have never tasted death, are reserved for the last times to be precursors of the Second Advent was practically unanimous among the Fathers, which belief they base on several texts of Scripture. (Concerning Elijah see Malachi 4:5-6; Sirach 48:10; Matthew 17:11; concerning Enoch see Sirach 44:16)

Plus, it is much better symbolically, and more elegant theologically, if only Christ and Mary are Resurrected before the General Resurrection.


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