The Tomb of Mary

Why is there a tomb of Mary if Mary was assumed body and soul into Heaven?

Was she buried first?

There are two schools of thought on whether Mary died or not first before her Assumption (hence why some may call it the Dormition). The idea behind the Dormition is that she asked Our Lord to let her die, as she did not want to be spared from death, which He did not spare Himself from. Obviously if she died she’d need a tomb.


I’m Orthodox. We absolutely believe in her dormition (death) and that it came before her assumption. We believe she was bodily resurrected and taken up to heaven on the third day after her death. So, yes, there is a tomb (and there is a church built around it).


It’s interesting to me that the RC tour of Holy Land I took completely skipped the Church of the Dormition, and I can’t help but wonder if that was because they didn’t want to deal with the whole question of whether or not Mary died.


I’m not sure why the Dormition is so… contested in the Latin Rite. It’s the tradition. Just because it’s not a de fide dogma of the faith doesn’t make it not doctrine. But I’m not sure anything can be said without starting a debate.


Thank you for your replies. I am a convert and was praying the Glorious Mysteries
yesterday while playing a you tube video of the Glorious Mysteries at the same
time. It showed the Tomb of Mary at the beginning of the 4th decade the Assumtion of Mary and I guess I had not realized before yesterday that there
was a Tomb of Mary. So I had some confusion.

I have heard of the Dormition - is that strictly an Orthodox belief?

To my knowledge, Latin Catholics are free to believe in the Dormition as long as we also believe in the Assumption.
We are also free to not believe in the Dormition as long as we believe in the Assumption.

Dormition in Latin Catholic Church is one of those things like whether Mary had a painless childbirth. You often get somebody up there giving a homily who is pronouncing on these matters like whatever he says is official Church teaching, and it’s not.

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Okay. Thanks Tis for the clarification.

Do the Orthodox believe in the Assumption?

Yes the Eastern Orthodox believe in the Dormition of the Theotokos.

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Yes they do.

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I just heard a podcast from Light of the East on this very subject…a lot I did not know between the two…

Great conversation here…

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I think the Dormition would rank higher than a pious belief.

Do you dispute that Latin Catholics are free to believe in the Dormition or not believe in the Dormition?

To my knowledge, we are simply taught that when Mary reached the end of her earthly life, she was assumed into heaven, body and soul.

No definitive pronouncement on whether she experienced bodily death before being assumed, or not.

I frankly find it a moot point whether Mary actually died, was one iota away from death, or was just puttering around her kitchen one day when the Assumption occurred.


But the Dormition and the Assumption are two different mysteries regarding Mary

So in the Latin Rite, we believe in the Assumption, but can have our own
individial beliefs about the Dormition?

I should hope so . . . EC share Dormition with the EO . . .

[yikes, how many times do I have to undo auto-“correct” on that???]


At the Council of Chalcedon in 451, when bishops from throughout the Mediterranean world gathered in Constantinople, Emperor Marcian asked the Patriarch of Jerusalem to bring the relics of Mary to Constantinople to be enshrined in the capitol. The patriarch explained to the emperor that there were no relics of Mary in Jerusalem, that ‘Mary had died in the presence of the apostles; but her tomb, when opened later . . . was found empty and so the apostles concluded that the body was taken up into heaven.’

So the dormition is more than a free belief but less than dogma.


And despite all these posts above, at the Assumption Mass a few weeks ago, I had to listen to the priest who gave the homily speak for several minutes on how “Mary Didn’t Die.”

Okay, thank you. And some believe Mary died in Ephesus also right?

The fact of her death is prominently displayed at St Mary’s Major, the most important Marian church in Latin Christendom. The Dormition is part of our western tradition too. It’s my understanding that this notion that she didn’t die popped up in the 1700s…
Personally, I can’t imagine that Our Lady would be denied a share in the resurrection. The Assumption is meant to be a foretaste of the Church’s own destiny. We die with Christ, we rise with Christ, and we are assumed into glory with Christ. Our Lady went first.


There’s an argument to be made that because Mary experienced Christ’s passion right along with him, she had already experienced death vicariously when he died.

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