Feasts celebrating the Falling Asleep, that is, the death, of Mary have been celebrated in the E since the 4th or 5th c. Emp. Maurice (582603) fixed the date for such celebrations on August 15. The feast entered the W Ch. in the late 7th c. and became universal by the end of the 8th. Though the doctrine of Mary's bodily assumption seems first to have been upheld in the 8th or 9th c., it was officially declared a probable opinion in the RC Ch. only in the pontificate of Benedict XIV (see Popes, 24) and it was only in 1950 that Pius XII (see Popes, 33) in the bull Munificentissimus Deus defined it as a dogma that RCs must believe (but left open the question whether or not Mary died before being taken bodily into heaven). It has long been a RC holy day of obligation in many countries. The 1572 Luth. Ch. Order for Brandenburg still retained the feast by its traditional name; elsewhere in the 16th and 17th c. some Luth. Ch. Orders kept August 15 as a festival, but commemorated the Visitation (otherwise kept on July 2) on it. ACP
Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission
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