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I rarely think about the last days of the life of Mary, Mother of Jesus. It couldn’t have been easy for her to live through the events that precipitated the death of Jesus and the aftermath – having him back and then gone again…Tradition offers some theories about the end of her life: e.g., that she lived out her days in or near Ephesus or Jerusalem and that John “the beloved disciple” took her into his home, but nothing is certain. The dogma of the Assumption of Mary (that she was, at her death, taken “body and soul into heaven”) was promulgated (dogmatically defined) only in 1950 in an encyclical by Pope Pius XII but has been traditionally believed and taught especially in the Orthodox Church since the 6th century.

Whatever our personal beliefs and relationship with Mary, she is the “go-to” person for people the world over. Women, especially mothers and pregnant women, are comforted by their prayers to her. Men, as well, use the rosary as their daily prayer. There are devotional groups – Sodalities, Legion of Mary – religious orders and more, dedicated to her and places of pilgrimage that witness to miracles through her intercession.

Having had a beautiful mother of my own – one whose name was Mary and whose devotion to her was deep – my image of the mother of Jesus is easily conjectured in her daily life. Loving, caring of her children, worried sometimes, patient, always teaching by her manner of life…and blissful at transition to divine life with God at the moment of her death, I give thanks for this day, this feast of life.