With the Feast of the Assumption this week, naturally I’ve been doing some reading. This former Baptist took a long time to even consider that Mary had been taken up into Heaven. There’s no Biblical evidence. The book doesn’t even mention her dying (strange, isn’t it?), let alone any supernatural type of departure from this earth.
But when you think about it… why not? There had been others taken up into Heaven. Elijah was. Enoch was. If these men loved God so much that they bypassed the corruption of death itself, why wouldn’t God do the same for the woman with the world-changing task of bearing the Son?
The seemingly small detail that pushed me closer to believing the Assumption was the lack of relics. The early Church went crazy over them. They’d claim body parts of saints, or a lock of hair, or anything to bless their churches. Curiously, there are no Marian relics the Church recognizes as authentic. And it wasn’t until I stumbled upon this neat little history that I understood why.
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.”
Also, this is really cool. All the artwork of the Assumption has Mary basking in Heavenly light, riding a cloud skyward as her admirers gather beneath her.
Peter Paul Rubens, 1612
But that’s not it at all. Truth is, the Blessed Mother died. There are more than a couple spots that claim to have her tomb. But in the quiet, still way of God—much like the arrival of Jesus Christ himself—Mary went Home, body and all.
Now that’s something I can believe.