Mother Mary – Life from beyond The Grave

On the 15th of August, the Universal Catholic Church celebrates the Assumption of Our Lady.  On Nov. 1, 1950, Pope Pius XII, declared Munificentissimus Deus – a dogma of the Catholic Church – “The Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory” (No. 44).

When we are preparing ourselves to celebrate the feast of the Assumption of Our Lady, it is good to refresh our knowledge on the tomb of Mother Mary.  Today, where can we find the tomb of Mother Mary?  Since the Biblical accounts don’t provide any information on the same, we need to depend on the rich traditions of the Catholic Church.  Prominently Jerusalem and Ephesus claims the place of burial of Mother Mary.

Why Ephesus?

After the Council of Ephesus (AD 431) there were some indication placing the tomb of Mother Mary in Ephesus. It is connected to the closeness of St. John, who lived his last years in Ephesus.  As the St. John took care of Mother Mary after the death of the Lord, she could have lived there up to her Assumption.  In a letter sent in 431 by the members of the Council of Ephesus to the clergy of Constantinople we read that Nestorius “reached the city of Ephesus where John the Theologian and the Mother of God, the Holy Virgin, were separated from the assembly of the holy Fathers”, etc. (This is being found in many online sources).  Pope Benedict XVI (Papacy time 1740-1758) “states that Mary followed St. John to Ephesus and died there” (Book- Mariology: A guide for Priests, Deacons, Seminarians, and Consecrated Persons). Further, certain private revelations support this tradition. The vision of Bl. Anne Catherine Emmerich has been very influential in discovering the House of Virgin Mary (The Church has never marked its authenticity in favor or against) near to Ephesus in 19th century. The house was discovered based on the descriptions related on the visions of Bl. Anne Catherine in the book The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ (published by Clemens Brentano in 1883).  Since its discovery the House of Mary attracts many pilgrims each day.

Why Jerusalem?

From the 2nd and 3rd century this tradition had spread this tradition and it became stronger in the 5th century.  So the earliest traditions and Apocryphal works support this tradition.  According to the “Acts of St. John by Prochurus”, written (160-70) by Lencius, the Evangelist went to Ephesus accompanied by Prochurus alone and at a very advanced age, that is, after Mary’s death. The two letters “B. Ignatii missa S. Joanni”, written about 370, show that the Blessed Virgin passed the remainder of her days at Jerusalem (Funk, “Patres ap.”, 1901, II, 214-16) (These are taken from the online source).  Then the letter of Dionysius the Areopagite to the Bishop Titus (363) denotes that the tomb of Mother Mary locates at Gethsemane.  Further St. John Damascene in Ad 730, bears witness to a tradition that Mother Mary passed from this world from Jerusalem: “Zion is the mother of churches in the whole world, who offered a resting-place to the Mother of God after her Son’s Resurrection from the dead.  In it, lastly, the Blessed Virgin was stretched on a small bed” (Homily 2 on the Dormition of the Blessed Virgin).

We find that, in the Council of Jerusalem in 48AD, the elders and Apostles (St. John also part of it) joined together with St. Paul (Acts. 15).  There we do not find the presence of Mother Mary.  As per the tradition, after the death and Resurrection of Jesus, Mother Mary lived for 11 years (AD 41). Since Mother Mary had a tremendous role in the formation of the Church and Jerusalem was the center of many important events in the early Catholic Church, brings us to the conclusion that, the tomb of Mother Mary is in Jerusalem.

Therefore from the historical and apocryphal basis, it is considered the tomb of Mother Mary is in Jerusalem.  Today the tomb of Mother Mary is found at the Church of the Sepulchre of Saint Mary in Kedron valley, Jerusalem.