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The Holy See





November 1, 1950


1. The most bountiful God, who is almighty, the plan of whose providence rests upon wisdom andlove, tempers, in the secret purpose of his own mind, the sorrows of peoples and of individual menby means of joys that he interposes in their lives from time to time, in such a way that, underdifferent conditions and in different ways, all things may work together unto good for those wholove him.(1)

2. Now, just like the present age, our pontificate is weighed down by ever so many cares,anxieties, and troubles, by reason of very severe calamities that have taken place and by reasonof the fact that many have strayed away from truth and virtue. Nevertheless, we are greatlyconsoled to see that, while the Catholic faith is being professed publicly and vigorously, pietytoward the Virgin Mother of God is flourishing and daily growing more fervent, and that almosteverywhere on earth it is showing indications of a better and holier life. Thus, while the BlessedVirgin is fulfilling in the most affectionate manner her maternal duties on behalf of those redeemedby the blood of Christ, the minds and the hearts of her children are being vigorously aroused to amore assiduous consideration of her prerogatives.

3. Actually God, who from all eternity regards Mary with a most favorable and unique affection,has “when the fullness of time came”(2) put the plan of his providence into effect in such a waythat all the privileges and prerogatives he had granted to her in his sovereign generosity were toshine forth in her in a kind of perfect harmony. And, although the Church has always recognizedthis supreme generosity and the perfect harmony of graces and has daily studied them more and

more throughout the course of the centuries, still it is in our own age that the privilege of the bodilyAssumption into heaven of Mary, the Virgin Mother of God, has certainly shone forth more clearly.

4. That privilege has shone forth in new radiance since our predecessor of immortal memory, PiusIX, solemnly proclaimed the dogma of the loving Mother of God’s Immaculate Conception. Thesetwo privileges are most closely bound to one another. Christ overcame sin and death by his owndeath, and one who through Baptism has been born again in a supernatural way has conqueredsin and death through the same Christ. Yet, according to the general rule, God does not will togrant to the just the full effect of the victory over death until the end of time has come. And so it isthat the bodies of even the just are corrupted after death, and only on the last day will they bejoined, each to its own glorious soul.

5. Now God has willed that the Blessed Virgin Mary should be exempted from this general rule.She, by an entirely unique privilege, completely overcame sin by her Immaculate Conception, andas a result she was not subject to the law of remaining in the corruption of the grave, and she didnot have to wait until the end of time for the redemption of her body.

6. Thus, when it was solemnly proclaimed that Mary, the Virgin Mother of God, was from the verybeginning free from the taint of original sin, the minds of the faithful were filled with a strongerhope that the day might soon come when the dogma of the Virgin Mary’s bodily Assumption intoheaven would also be defined by the Church’s supreme teaching authority.

7. Actually it was seen that not only individual Catholics, but also those who could speak fornations or ecclesiastical provinces, and even a considerable number of the Fathers of the VaticanCouncil, urgently petitioned the Apostolic See to this effect.

8. During the course of time such postulations and petitions did not decrease but rather grewcontinually in number and in urgency. In this cause there were pious crusades of prayer. Manyoutstanding theologians eagerly and zealously carried out investigations on this subject eitherprivately or in public ecclesiastical institutions and in other schools where the sacred disciplinesare taught. Marian Congresses, both national and international in scope, have been held in manyparts of the Catholic world. These studies and investigations have brought out into even clearerlight the fact that the dogma of the Virgin Mary’s Assumption into heaven is contained in thedeposit of Christian faith entrusted to the Church. They have resulted in many more petitions,begging and urging the Apostolic See that this truth be solemnly defined.

9. In this pious striving, the faithful have been associated in a wonderful way with their own holybishops, who have sent petitions of this kind, truly remarkable in number, to this See of theBlessed Peter. Consequently, when we were elevated to the throne of the supreme pontificate,petitions of this sort had already been addressed by the thousands from every part of the worldand from every class of people, from our beloved sons the Cardinals of the Sacred College, from


our venerable brethren, archbishops and bishops, from dioceses and from parishes.

10. Consequently, while we sent up earnest prayers to God that he might grant to our mind thelight of the Holy Spirit, to enable us to make a decision on this most serious subject, we issuedspecial orders in which we commanded that, by corporate effort, more advanced inquiries into thismatter should be begun and that, in the meantime, all the petitions about the Assumption of theBlessed Virgin Mary into heaven which had been sent to this Apostolic See from the time of PiusIX, our predecessor of happy memory, down to our own days should be gathered together andcarefully evaluated.(3)

11. And, since we were dealing with a matter of such great moment and of such importance, weconsidered it opportune to ask all our venerable brethren in the episcopate directly andauthoritatively that each of them should make known to us his mind in a formal statement. Hence,on May 1, 1946, we gave them our letter “Deiparae Virginis Mariae,” a letter in which these wordsare contained: “Do you, venerable brethren, in your outstanding wisdom and prudence, judge thatthe bodily Assumption of the Blessed Virgin can be proposed and defined as a dogma of faith? Doyou, with your clergy and people, desire it?”

12. But those whom “the Holy Spirit has placed as bishops to rule the Church of God”(4) gave analmost unanimous affirmative response to both these questions. This “outstanding agreement ofthe Catholic prelates and the faithful,”(5) affirming that the bodily Assumption of God’s Mother intoheaven can be defined as a dogma of faith, since it shows us the concordant teaching of theChurch’s ordinary doctrinal authority and the concordant faith of the Christian people which thesame doctrinal authority sustains and directs, thus by itself and in an entirely certain and infallibleway, manifests this privilege as a truth revealed by God and contained in that divine deposit whichChrist has delivered to his Spouse to be guarded faithfully and to be taught infallibly.(6) Certainlythis teaching authority of the Church, not by any merely human effort but under the protection ofthe Spirit of Truth,(7) and therefore absolutely without error, carries out the commission entrustedto it, that of preserving the revealed truths pure and entire throughout every age, in such a waythat it presents them undefiled, adding nothing to them and taking nothing away from them. For,as the Vatican Council teaches, “the Holy Spirit was not promised to the successors of Peter insuch a way that, by his revelation, they might manifest new doctrine, but so that, by his assistance,they might guard as sacred and might faithfully propose the revelation delivered through theapostles, or the deposit of faith.”(8) Thus, from the universal agreement of the Church’s ordinaryteaching authority we have a certain and firm proof, demonstrating that the Blessed Virgin Mary’sbodily Assumption into heaven- which surely no faculty of the human mind could know by its ownnatural powers, as far as the heavenly glorification of the virginal body of the loving Mother of Godis concerned-is a truth that has been revealed by God and consequently something that must befirmly and faithfully believed by all children of the Church. For, as the Vatican Council asserts, “allthose things are to be believed by divine and Catholic faith which are contained in the writtenWord of God or in Tradition, and which are proposed by the Church, either in solemn judgment or


in its ordinary and universal teaching office, as divinely revealed truths which must be believed.”(9)

13. Various testimonies, indications and signs of this common belief of the Church are evidentfrom remote times down through the course of the centuries; and this same belief becomes moreclearly manifest from day to day.

14. Christ’s faithful, through the teaching and the leadership of their pastors, have learned from thesacred books that the Virgin Mary, throughout the course of her earthly pilgrimage, led a lifetroubled by cares, hardships, and sorrows, and that, moreover, what the holy old man Simeon hadforetold actually came to pass, that is, that a terribly sharp sword pierced her heart as she stoodunder the cross of her divine Son, our Redeemer. In the same way, it was not difficult for them toadmit that the great Mother of God, like her only begotten Son, had actually passed from this life.But this in no way prevented them from believing and from professing openly that her sacred bodyhad never been subject to the corruption of the tomb, and that the august tabernacle of the DivineWord had never been reduced to dust and ashes. Actually, enlightened by divine grace andmoved by affection for her, God’s Mother and our own dearest Mother, they have contemplated inan ever clearer light the wonderful harmony and order of those privileges which the most providentGod has lavished upon this loving associate of our Redeemer, privileges which reach such anexalted plane that, except for her, nothing created by God other than the human nature of JesusChrist has ever reached this level.

15. The innumerable temples which have been dedicated to the Virgin Mary assumed into heavenclearly attest this faith. So do those sacred images, exposed therein for the veneration of thefaithful, which bring this unique triumph of the Blessed Virgin before the eyes of all men. Moreover,cities, dioceses, and individual regions have been placed under the special patronage andguardianship of the Virgin Mother of God assumed into heaven. In the same way, religiousinstitutes, with the approval of the Church, have been founded and have taken their name fromthis privilege. Nor can we pass over in silence the fact that in the Rosary of Mary, the recitation ofwhich this Apostolic See so urgently recommends, there is one mystery proposed for piousmeditation which, as all know, deals with the Blessed Virgin’s Assumption into heaven.

16. This belief of the sacred pastors and of Christ’s faithful is universally manifested still moresplendidly by the fact that, since ancient times, there have been both in the East and in the Westsolemn liturgical offices commemorating this privilege. The holy Fathers and Doctors of theChurch have never failed to draw enlightenment from this fact since, as everyone knows, thesacred liturgy, “because it is the profession, subject to the supreme teaching authority within theChurch, of heavenly truths, can supply proofs and testimonies of no small value for deciding aparticular point of Christian doctrine.”(10)

17. In the liturgical books which deal with the feast either of the dormition or of the Assumption ofthe Blessed Virgin there are expressions that agree in testifying that, when the Virgin Mother of


God passed from this earthly exile to heaven, what happened to her sacred body was, by thedecree of divine Providence, in keeping with the dignity of the Mother of the Word Incarnate, andwith the other privileges she had been accorded. Thus, to cite an illustrious example, this is setforth in that sacramentary which Adrian I, our predecessor of immortal memory, sent to theEmperor Charlemagne. These words are found in this volume: “Venerable to us, O Lord, is thefestivity of this day on which the holy Mother of God suffered temporal death, but still could not bekept down by the bonds of death, who has begotten your Son our Lord incarnate from herself.”(11)

18. What is here indicated in that sobriety characteristic of the Roman liturgy is presented moreclearly and completely in other ancient liturgical books. To take one as an example, the Gallicansacramentary designates this privilege of Mary’s as “an ineffable mystery all the more worthy ofpraise as the Virgin’s Assumption is something unique among men.” And, in the Byzantine liturgy,not only is the Virgin Mary’s bodily Assumption connected time and time again with the dignity ofthe Mother of God, but also with the other privileges, and in particular with the virginal motherhoodgranted her by a singular decree of God’s Providence. “God, the King of the universe, has grantedyou favors that surpass nature. As he kept you a virgin in childbirth, thus he has kept your bodyincorrupt in the tomb and has glorified it by his divine act of transferring it from the tomb.”(12)

19. The fact that the Apostolic See, which has inherited the function entrusted to the Prince of theApostles, the function of confirming the brethren in the faith,(13) has by its own authority, madethe celebration of this feast ever more solemn, has certainly and effectively moved the attentiveminds of the faithful to appreciate always more completely the magnitude of the mystery itcommemorates. So it was that the Feast of the Assumption was elevated from the rank which ithad occupied from the beginning among the other Marian feasts to be classed among the moresolemn celebrations of the entire liturgical cycle. And, when our predecessor St. Sergius Iprescribed what is known as the litany, or the stational procession, to be held on four Marianfeasts, he specified together the Feasts of the Nativity, the Annunciation, the Purification, and theDormition of the Virgin Mary.(14) Again, St. Leo IV saw to it that the feast, which was alreadybeing celebrated under the title of the Assumption of the Blessed Mother of God, should beobserved in even a more solemn way when he ordered a vigil to be held on the day before it andprescribed prayers to be recited after it until the octave day. When this had been done, he decidedto take part himself in the celebration, in the midst of a great multitude of the faithful.(15)Moreover, the fact that a holy fast had been ordered from ancient times for the day prior to thefeast is made very evident by what our predecessor St. Nicholas I testifies in treating of theprincipal fasts which “the Holy Roman Church has observed for a long time, and stillobserves.”(16)

20. However, since the liturgy of the Church does not engender the Catholic faith, but rathersprings from it, in such a way that the practices of the sacred worship proceed from the faith as thefruit comes from the tree, it follows that the holy Fathers and the great Doctors, in the homilies andsermons they gave the people on this feast day, did not draw their teaching from the feast itself as


from a primary source, but rather they spoke of this doctrine as something already known andaccepted by Christ’s faithful. They presented it more clearly. They offered more profoundexplanations of its meaning and nature, bringing out into sharper light the fact that this feastshows, not only that the dead body of the Blessed Virgin Mary remained incorrupt, but that shegained a triumph out of death, her heavenly glorification after the example of her only begottenSon, Jesus Christ-truths that the liturgical books had frequently touched upon concisely andbriefly.

21. Thus St. John Damascene, an outstanding herald of this traditional truth, spoke out withpowerful eloquence when he compared the bodily Assumption of the loving Mother of God withher other prerogatives and privileges. “It was fitting that she, who had kept her virginity intact inchildbirth, should keep her own body free from all corruption even after death. It was fitting thatshe, who had carried the Creator as a child at her breast, should dwell in the divine tabernacles. Itwas fitting that the spouse, whom the Father had taken to himself, should live in the divinemansions. It was fitting that she, who had seen her Son upon the cross and who had therebyreceived into her heart the sword of sorrow which she had escaped in the act of giving birth to him,should look upon him as he sits with the Father. It was fitting that God’s Mother should possesswhat belongs to her Son, and that she should be honored by every creature as the Mother and asthe handmaid of God.”(17)

22. These words of St. John Damascene agree perfectly with what others have taught on thissame subject. Statements no less clear and accurate are to be found in sermons delivered byFathers of an earlier time or of the same period, particularly on the occasion of this feast. And so,to cite some other examples, St. Germanus of Constantinople considered the fact that the body ofMary, the virgin Mother of God, was incorrupt and had been taken up into heaven to be in keeping,not only with her divine motherhood, but also with the special holiness of her virginal body. “Youare she who, as it is written, appears in beauty, and your virginal body is all holy, all chaste,entirely the dwelling place of God, so that it is henceforth completely exempt from dissolution intodust. Though still human, it is changed into the heavenly life of incorruptibility, truly living andglorious, undamaged and sharing in perfect life.”(18) And another very ancient writer asserts: “Asthe most glorious Mother of Christ, our Savior and God and the giver of life and immortality, hasbeen endowed with life by him, she has received an eternal incorruptibility of the body togetherwith him who has raised her up from the tomb and has taken her up to himself in a way knownonly to him.”(19)

23. When this liturgical feast was being celebrated ever more widely and with ever increasingdevotion and piety, the bishops of the Church and its preachers in continually greater numbersconsidered it their duty openly and clearly to explain the mystery that the feast commemorates,and to explain how it is intimately connected with the other revealed truths.

24. Among the scholastic theologians there have not been lacking those who, wishing to inquire


more profoundly into divinely revealed truths and desirous of showing the harmony that existsbetween what is termed the theological demonstration and the Catholic faith, have alwaysconsidered it worthy of note that this privilege of the Virgin Mary’s Assumption is in wonderfulaccord with those divine truths given us in Holy Scripture.

25. When they go on to explain this point, they adduce various proofs to throw light on thisprivilege of Mary. As the first element of these demonstrations, they insist upon the fact that, out offilial love for his mother, Jesus Christ has willed that she be assumed into heaven. They base thestrength of their proofs on the incomparable dignity of her divine motherhood and of all thoseprerogatives which follow from it. These include her exalted holiness, entirely surpassing thesanctity of all men and of the angels, the intimate union of Mary with her Son, and the affection ofpreeminent love which the Son has for his most worthy Mother.

26. Often there are theologians and preachers who, following in the footsteps of the holyFathers,(20) have been rather free in their use of events and expressions taken from SacredScripture to explain their belief in the Assumption. Thus, to mention only a few of the texts ratherfrequently cited in this fashion, some have employed the words of the psalmist: “Arise, O Lord, intoyour resting place: you and the ark, which you have sanctified”(21); and have looked upon the Arkof the Covenant, built of incorruptible wood and placed in the Lord’s temple, as a type of the mostpure body of the Virgin Mary, preserved and exempt from all the corruption of the tomb and raisedup to such glory in heaven. Treating of this subject, they also describe her as the Queen enteringtriumphantly into the royal halls of heaven and sitting at the right hand of the divine Redeemer.(22)Likewise they mention the Spouse of the Canticles “that goes up by the desert, as a pillar ofsmoke of aromatical spices, of myrrh and frankincense” to be crowned.(23) These are proposedas depicting that heavenly Queen and heavenly Spouse who has been lifted up to the courts ofheaven with the divine Bridegroom.

27. Moreover, the scholastic Doctors have recognized the Assumption of the Virgin Mother of Godas something signified, not only in various figures of the Old Testament, but also in that womanclothed with the sun whom John the Apostle contemplated on the Island of Patmos.(24) Similarlythey have given special attention to these words of the New Testament: “Hail, full of grace, theLord is with you, blessed are you among women,”(25) since they saw, in the mystery of theAssumption, the fulfillment of that most perfect grace granted to the Blessed Virgin and the specialblessing that countered the curse of Eve.

28. Thus, during the earliest period of scholastic theology, that most pious man, Amadeus, Bishopof Lausarme, held that the Virgin Mary’s flesh had remained incorrupt-for it is wrong to believe thather body has seen corruption-because it was really united again to her soul and, together with it,crowned with great glory in the heavenly courts. “For she was full of grace and blessed amongwomen. She alone merited to conceive the true God of true God, whom as a virgin, she broughtforth, to whom as a virgin she gave milk, fondling him in her lap, and in all things she waited upon


him with loving care.”(26)

29. Among the holy writers who at that time employed statements and various images andanalogies of Sacred Scripture to Illustrate and to confirm the doctrine of the Assumption, whichwas piously believed, the Evangelical Doctor, St. Anthony of Padua, holds a special place. On thefeast day of the Assumption, while explaining the prophet’s words: “I will glorify the place of myfeet,”(27) he stated it as certain that the divine Redeemer had bedecked with supreme glory hismost beloved Mother from whom he had received human flesh. He asserts that “you have here aclear statement that the Blessed Virgin has been assumed in her body, where was the place of theLord’s feet. Hence it is that the holy Psalmist writes: ‘Arise, O Lord, into your resting place: youand the ark which you have sanctified.”‘ And he asserts that, just as Jesus Christ has risen fromthe death over which he triumphed and has ascended to the right hand of the Father, so likewisethe ark of his sanctification “has risen up, since on this day the Virgin Mother has been taken up toher heavenly dwelling.”(28)

30. When, during the Middle Ages, scholastic theology was especially flourishing, St. Albert theGreat who, to establish this teaching, had gathered together many proofs from Sacred Scripture,from the statements of older writers, and finally from the liturgy and from what is known astheological reasoning, concluded in this way: “From these proofs and authorities and from manyothers, it is manifest that the most blessed Mother of God has been assumed above the choirs ofangels. And this we believe in every way to be true.”(29) And, in a sermon which he delivered onthe sacred day of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s annunciation, explained the words “Hail, full of grace”-words used by the angel who addressed her-the Universal Doctor, comparing the Blessed Virginwith Eve, stated clearly and incisively that she was exempted from the fourfold curse that hadbeen laid upon Eve.(30)

31. Following the footsteps of his distinguished teacher, the Angelic Doctor, despite the fact thathe never dealt directly with this question, nevertheless, whenever he touched upon it, always heldtogether with the Catholic Church, that Mary’s body had been assumed into heaven along with hersoul.(31)

32. Along with many others, the Seraphic Doctor held the same views. He considered it as entirelycertain that, as God had preserved the most holy Virgin Mary from the violation of her virginalpurity and integrity in conceiving and in childbirth, he would never have permitted her body to havebeen resolved into dust and ashes.(32) Explaining these words of Sacred Scripture: “Who is thisthat comes up from the desert, flowing with delights, leaning upon her beloved?”(33) and applyingthem in a kind of accommodated sense to the Blessed Virgin, he reasons thus: “From this we cansee that she is there bodily…her blessedness would not have been complete unless she werethere as a person. The soul is not a person, but the soul, joined to the body, is a person. It ismanifest that she is there in soul and in body. Otherwise she would not possess her completebeatitude.(34)


33. In the fifteenth century, during a later period of scholastic theology, St. Bernardine of Sienacollected and diligently evaluated all that the medieval theologians had said and taught on thisquestion. He was not content with setting down the principal considerations which these writers ofan earlier day had already expressed, but he added others of his own. The likeness betweenGod’s Mother and her divine Son, in the way of the nobility and dignity of body and of soul – alikeness that forbids us to think of the heavenly Queen as being separated from the heavenly King- makes it entirely imperative that Mary “should be only where Christ is.”(35) Moreover, it isreasonable and fitting that not only the soul and body of a man, but also the soul and body of awoman should have obtained heavenly glory. Finally, since the Church has never looked for thebodily relics of the Blessed Virgin nor proposed them for the veneration of the people, we have aproof on the order of a sensible experience.(36)

34. The above-mentioned teachings of the holy Fathers and of the Doctors have been in commonuse during more recent times. Gathering together the testimonies of the Christians of earlier days,St. Robert Bellarmine exclaimed: “And who, I ask, could believe that the ark of holiness, thedwelling place of the Word of God, the temple of the Holy Spirit, could be reduced to ruin? My soulis filled with horror at the thought that this virginal flesh which had begotten God, had brought himinto the world, had nourished and carried him, could have been turned into ashes or given over tobe food for worms.”(37)

35. In like manner St. Francis de Sales, after asserting that it is wrong to doubt that Jesus Christhas himself observed, in the most perfect way, the divine commandment by which children areordered to honor their parents, asks this question: “What son would not bring his mother back tolife and would not bring her into paradise after her death if he could?”(38) And St. Alphonsuswrites that “Jesus did not wish to have the body of Mary corrupted after death, since it would haveredounded to his own dishonor to have her virginal flesh, from which he himself had assumedflesh, reduced to dust.”(39)

36. Once the mystery which is commemorated in this feast had been placed in its proper light,there were not lacking teachers who, instead of dealing with the theological reasonings that showwhy it is fitting and right to believe the bodily Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven,chose to focus their mind and attention on the faith of the Church itself, which is the Mystical Bodyof Christ without stain or wrinkle(40) and is called by the Apostle “the pillar and ground oftruth.”(41) Relying on this common faith, they considered the teaching opposed to the doctrine ofour Lady’s Assumption as temerarious, if not heretical. Thus, like not a few others, St. PeterCanisius, after he had declared that the very word “assumption” signifies the glorification, not onlyof the soul but also of the body, and that the Church has venerated and has solemnly celebratedthis mystery of Mary’s Assumption for many centuries, adds these words of warning: “Thisteaching has already been accepted for some centuries, it has been held as certain in the minds ofthe pious people, and it has been taught to the entire Church in such a way that those who denythat Mary’s body has been assumed into heaven are not to be listened to patiently but are


everywhere to be denounced as over-contentious or rash men, and as imbued with a spirit that isheretical rather than Catholic.”(42)

37. At the same time the great Suarez was professing in the field of mariology the norm that”keeping in mind the standards of propriety, and when there is no contradiction or repugnance onthe part of Scripture, the mysteries of grace which God has wrought in the Virgin must bemeasured, not by the ordinary laws, but by the divine omnipotence.”(43) Supported by thecommon faith of the entire Church on the subject of the mystery of the Assumption, he couldconclude that this mystery was to be believed with the same firmness of assent as that given tothe Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin. Thus he already held that such truths could bedefined.

38. All these proofs and considerations of the holy Fathers and the theologians are based uponthe Sacred Writings as their ultimate foundation. These set the loving Mother of God as it werebefore our very eyes as most intimately joined to her divine Son and as always sharing his lot.Consequently it seems impossible to think of her, the one who conceived Christ, brought him forth,nursed him with her milk, held him in her arms, and clasped him to her breast, as being apart fromhim in body, even though not in soul, after this earthly life. Since our Redeemer is the Son of Mary,he could not do otherwise, as the perfect observer of God’s law, than to honor, not only his eternalFather, but also his most beloved Mother. And, since it was within his power to grant her this greathonor, to preserve her from the corruption of the tomb, we must believe that he really acted in thisway.

39. We must remember especially that, since the second century, the Virgin Mary has beendesignated by the holy Fathers as the new Eve, who, although subject to the new Adam, is mostintimately associated with him in that struggle against the infernal foe which, as foretold in theprotoevangelium,(44) would finally result in that most complete victory over the sin and deathwhich are always mentioned together in the writings of the Apostle of the Gentiles.(45)Consequently, just as the glorious resurrection of Christ was an essential part and the final sign ofthis victory, so that struggle which was common to the Blessed Virgin and her divine Son shouldbe brought to a close by the glorification of her virginal body, for the same Apostle says: “Whenthis mortal thing hath put on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: Deathis swallowed up in victory.”(46)

40. Hence the revered Mother of God, from all eternity joined in a hidden way with Jesus Christ inone and the same decree of predestination,(47) immaculate in her conception, a most perfectvirgin in her divine motherhood, the noble associate of the divine Redeemer who has won acomplete triumph over sin and its consequences, finally obtained, as the supreme culmination ofher privileges, that she should be preserved free from the corruption of the tomb and that, like herown Son, having overcome death, she might be taken up body and soul to the glory of heavenwhere, as Queen, she sits in splendor at the right hand of her Son, the immortal King of the



41. Since the universal Church, within which dwells the Spirit of Truth who infallibly directs ittoward an ever more perfect knowledge of the revealed truths, has expressed its own belief manytimes over the course of the centuries, and since the bishops of the entire world are almostunanimously petitioning that the truth of the bodily Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary intoheaven should be defined as a dogma of divine and Catholic faith–this truth which is based on theSacred Writings, which is thoroughly rooted in the minds of the faithful, which has been approvedin ecclesiastical worship from the most remote times, which is completely in harmony with theother revealed truths, and which has been expounded and explained magnificently in the work, thescience, and the wisdom of the theologians – we believe that the moment appointed in the plan ofdivine providence for the solemn proclamation of this outstanding privilege of the Virgin Mary hasalready arrived.

42. We, who have placed our pontificate under the special patronage of the most holy Virgin, towhom we have had recourse so often in times of grave trouble, we who have consecrated theentire human race to her Immaculate Heart in public ceremonies, and who have time and timeagain experienced her powerful protection, are confident that this solemn proclamation anddefinition of the Assumption will contribute in no small way to the advantage of human society,since it redounds to the glory of the Most Blessed Trinity, to which the Blessed Mother of God isbound by such singular bonds. It is to be hoped that all the faithful will be stirred up to a strongerpiety toward their heavenly Mother, and that the souls of all those who glory in the Christian namemay be moved by the desire of sharing in the unity of Jesus Christ’s Mystical Body and ofincreasing their love for her who shows her motherly heart to all the members of this august body.And so we may hope that those who meditate upon the glorious example Mary offers us may bemore and more convinced of the value of a human life entirely devoted to carrying out theheavenly Father’s will and to bringing good to others. Thus, while the illusory teachings ofmaterialism and the corruption of morals that follows from these teachings threaten to extinguishthe light of virtue and to ruin the lives of men by exciting discord among them, in this magnificentway all may see clearly to what a lofty goal our bodies and souls are destined. Finally it is ourhope that belief in Mary’s bodily Assumption into heaven will make our belief in our ownresurrection stronger and render it more effective.

43. We rejoice greatly that this solemn event falls, according to the design of God’s providence,during this Holy Year, so that we are able, while the great Jubilee is being observed, to adorn thebrow of God’s Virgin Mother with this brilliant gem, and to leave a monument more enduring thanbronze of our own most fervent love for the Mother of God.

44. For which reason, after we have poured forth prayers of supplication again and again to God,and have invoked the light of the Spirit of Truth, for the glory of Almighty God who has lavished hisspecial affection upon the Virgin Mary, for the honor of her Son, the immortal King of the Ages and


the Victor over sin and death, for the increase of the glory of that same august Mother, and for thejoy and exultation of the entire Church; by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the BlessedApostles Peter and Paul, and by our own authority, we pronounce, declare, and define it to be adivinely revealed dogma: that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, havingcompleted the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.

45. Hence if anyone, which God forbid, should dare willfully to deny or to call into doubt that whichwe have defined, let him know that he has fallen away completely from the divine and CatholicFaith.

46. In order that this, our definition of the bodily Assumption of the Virgin Mary into heaven may bebrought to the attention of the universal Church, we desire that this, our Apostolic Letter, shouldstand for perpetual remembrance, commanding that written copies of it, or even printed copies,signed by the hand of any public notary and bearing the seal of a person constituted inecclesiastical dignity, should be accorded by all men the same reception they would give to thispresent letter, were it tendered or shown.

47. It is forbidden to any man to change this, our declaration, pronouncement, and definition or, byrash attempt, to oppose and counter it. If any man should presume to make such an attempt, lethim know that he will incur the wrath of Almighty God and of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul.

48. Given at Rome, at St. Peter’s, in the year of the great Jubilee, 1950, on the first day of themonth of November, on the Feast of All Saints, in the twelfth year of our pontificate.




1. Rom 8:28.

2. Gal 4:4.

3. Cf. Hentrich-Von Moos, Petitiones de Assumptione Corporea B. Virginis Mariae in CaelumDefinienda ad S. Sedem Delatae, 2 volumes (Vatican Polyglot Press, 1942).

4. Acts 20:28.

5. The Bull Ineffabilis Deus, in the Acta Pii IX, pars 1, Vol. 1, p. 615.


6. The Vatican Council, Constitution Dei filius, c. 4.

7. Jn 14:26.

8. Vatican Council, Constitution Pastor Aeternus, c. 4.

9. Ibid., Dei Filius, c. 3.

10. The encyclical Mediator Dei (Acta Apostolicae Sedis, XXXIX, 541).

11. Sacramentarium Gregorianum.

12. Menaei Totius Anni.

13. Lk 22:32.

14. Liber Pontificalis.

15. Ibid.

16. Responsa Nicolai Papae I ad Consulta Bulgarorum.

17. St. John Damascene, Encomium in Dormitionem Dei Genetricis Semperque Virginis Mariae,Hom. II, n. 14; cf. also ibid, n. 3.

18. St. Germanus of Constantinople, In Sanctae Dei Genetricis Dormitionem, Sermo I.

19. The Encomium in Dormitionem Sanctissimae Dominae Nostrate Deiparae Semperque VirginisMariae, attributed to St. Modestus of Jerusalem, n. 14.

20. Cf. St. John Damascene, op. cit., Hom. II, n. 11; and also the Encomium attributed to St.Modestus.

21. Ps 131:8.

22. Ps 44:10-14ff.

23. Song 3:6; cf. also 4:8; 6:9.

24. Rv 12:1ff.

25. Lk 1:28.


26. Amadeus of Lausanne, De Beatae Virginis Obitu, Assumptione in Caelum Exaltatione ad FiliiDexteram.

27. Is 61:13.

28. St. Anthony of Padua, Sermones Dominicales et in Solemnitatibus, In Assumptione S. MariaeVirginis Sermo.

29. St. Albert the Great, Mariale, q. 132.

30. St. Albert the Great, Sermones de Sanctis, Sermo XV in Annuntiatione B. Mariae; cf. alsoMariale, q. 132.

31. St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theol., I, lla; q. 27, a. 1; q. 83, a. 5, ad 8; Expositio SalutationisAngelicae; In Symb. Apostolorum Expositio, a. S; In IV Sent., d. 12, q. 1, a. 3, sol. 3; d. 43, q. 1, a.3, sol. 1, 2.

32. St. Bonaventure, De Nativitate B. Mariae Virginis, Sermo V.

33. Song 8:5.

34. St. Bonaventure, De Assumptione B. Mariae Virginis, Sermo 1.

35. St. Bernardine of Siena, In Assumptione B. Mariae Virginis, Sermo 11.

36. Ibid.

37. St. Robert Bellarmine, Conciones Habitae Lovanii, n. 40, De Assumption B. Mariae Virginis.

38. Oeuvres de St. Francois De Sales, sermon for the Feast of the Assumption.

39. St. Alphonsus Liguori, The Glories of Mary, Part 2, d. 1.

40. Eph 5:27.

41. I Tim 3:15.

42. St. Peter Canisius, De Maria Virgine.

43. Suarez, In Tertiam Partem D. Thomae, q. 27, a. 2, disp. 3, sec. 5, n. 31.

44. Gen 3:15.


45. Rom 5-6; I Cor. 15:21-26, 54-57.

46. I Cor 15:54.

47. The Bull Ineffabilis Deus, loc. cit., p. 599.

48. I Tim 1:17.


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