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Assumption of St. Mary's Body


        The Feast of the Assumption of Saint Mary is profoundly revered among all the feasts dedicated to the Saints, especially within the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Celebrated on August 22, this feast solemnly commemorates Saint Mary's corporeal ascent - both body and soul - into heaven. It is a day that marks her unique position, preceding the faithful in entering heaven and taking her place at the right hand of her Son and bridegroom. The feast is rooted in the belief that the Lord would not allow the mortal vessel that bore Him to succumb to decay and dissolution. Though Mary, being human, experienced death, she was divinely assumed into heaven.


        To the Ethiopian faithful, this celebration is a profound testament to the eschatological truths held in their faith. It signals a time when the righteous shall rise and be reunited with glorified, spiritual bodies, reflecting inner sanctity. This conviction is strengthened by the Assumption of Saint Mary, which assures believers of their eventual resurrection, a hope first affirmed by the resurrection of Christ and further solidified by Mary's Assumption.

Ethiopian Orthodox Christians exhibit a profound devotion during the Feast of the Assumption. Their commitment is manifested in the rich hymns, prayers, and the poetic and splendid titles associated with the Virgin Mary. This devotion encapsulates the mystery of incarnation, the divine-human relationship, and the divine maternity of Mary, who found favor with God and became a symbol of humanity's journey through time. For Ethiopian Christians, Mary's selection by God is not just a narrative of divine election but a testament to God's plan of salvation realized through her.


         The Feast of the Assumption holds a multifaceted significance for Ethiopian Orthodox believers. It's a time steeped in devotion, reflected in the continual recitation of prayers and devotional literature honoring the Virgin Mary. The life of the Orthodox Christian is deeply intertwined with the narratives of the Virgin's life – her trials, joys, and sorrows, as depicted in sacred texts. These stories are not merely tales; they form the very fabric of an Orthodox Christian's consciousness, fortifying their identity and experiential reality.

From the onset of their spiritual journey, Orthodox believers are reassured of Mary's closeness – as a human, she is their sister; as one who has endured the world's suffering, she is their comforting Mother; and as the Mother of God, she is their beacon of hope. The Feast of the Assumption, therefore, transcends a mere ceremonial interlude; it is the zenith of a lifetime of learning, listening, and believing, where the faithful celebrate all that the Virgin Mary symbolizes to them.


         Furthermore, the Feast of the Assumption underscores God's divine nature and His profound concern for the world He created, desiring its redemption and salvation through the humble cooperation of a woman – the Virgin Mary. This feast celebrates God's love and charity, where God offered His only Son for the world's salvation, and Mary willingly participated in this divine plan. The Feast becomes a time for the faithful to express their gratitude towards Mary by emulating God's unconditional love through acts of charity.


         In commemorating the Feast, the faithful also introspect, comparing their lives to the purity, holiness, and obedience exemplified by the Virgin. Her life's narrative inspires them to dedicate themselves anew to God, seeing in her the epitome of humanity that perfectly aligns with God's will.


         In essence, the Feast of the Assumption is not only a celebration of Mary's ascent and God's victory over death; it is also an affirmation of the believer's eschatological hope. Mary's participation in death and her assumption into God's kingdom is a testament to the promise of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, offering assurance to the faithful. Mary, a daughter of Adam and entirely human, embodies the promise and hope of salvation, making her the guarantee of Christ's promise.


        This revered celebration serves as a reminder and a call to uphold and perpetuate the profound religious traditions and the rich heritage of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, ensuring that the extraordinary narrative of the Assumption of Saint Mary, and all that it symbolizes, is preserved and passed down through generations.

Source: “The Ever-Virgin Mother of God” by Priest Georges Vasilievich Florovsky.

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