Dormition of the Theotokos – Успение Пресвятой Богородицы

Greetings on the Feast of the Dormition of the Most Holy Mother of God!
Поздравляем Вас с великим праздником Успения Пресвятой Богородицы!

The Gospel says nothing about the earthly life of the Mother of God after the Ascension of the Savior. The memory of her last days has been preserved by the tradition of the Church.

After the Ascension of the Lord, the Mother of God remained in the care of the Apostle John the Theologian. In his absence, she lived in his parents’ house near the Mount of Olives. For the Apostles and all the faithful, she was a consolation and edification.

Dormition - Protectress of AthosDuring the persecution ordered by Herod against the young Church of Christ (Acts 12: 1-3), the Blessed Virgin Mary along with Saint John the Apostle and Theologian traveled to Ephesus in 43 A.D.  She also visited Saint Lazarus (raised by Christ after being dead four days), who had become the Bishop of Cyprus.  She also visited Holy Mountain of Athos, which, as related by Saint Stephen the Athonite, the Holy Mother of God prophetically said: “This place will be granted to me by my Son and God. I will be the Patroness and its Intercessor to God.”

Prior to her blessed Dormition (Assumption), the Most Holy Virgin Mary had returned to Jerusalem. She spent her days and nights in prayer. The Holy Mother of God often visited the Holy Sepulcher, where she burned incense and knelt in prayer.

During one of these visits, the Archangel Gabriel appeared before her and revealed that she would soon be translated from the earth to the blessed life in Heaven. After this revelation, she requested the presence of the righteous Joseph of Arimathea and the disciples of the Lord, to whom she desired to inform of her imminent Dormition. Through the prayers of the Blessed Virgin, the Holy Spirit miraculously gathered the apostles to her bedside.

The third hour arrived, the time appointed for the Mother of God to repose.  A multitude of candles had been lit. The Holy Apostles with hymns surrounded the splendidly decorated bed on which lay the Theotokos. She prayed in anticipation of her repose, awaiting the return of Her Son and Lord. Suddenly an ineffable light of Divine Glory shined forth, before which the glowing candles faded. Those who saw it were amazed. In rays of unexplainable light descended Christ Himself, the King of Glory, surrounded by a multitude of angels, archangels and other heavenly forces together with righteous souls of the patriarchs and prophets, testifying in unison to the Blessed Virgin.

Dormition - Soul TranslationWithout any bodily suffering, as though in a pleasant dream, the Blessed Virgin released her soul into the hands of her Son and God.

Reverently and with awe while kissing her most pure body, the apostles were blessed by Him and filled with grace and spiritual joy. For greater glorification of the Most Holy Mother of God, the almighty power of God healed the sick, who with faith and love drew near to touch her holy bier.

Having mourned their separation from the Mother of God on earth, the apostles began the preparations for her burial. Peter, Paul, James and the others from among the twelve apostles carried on their shoulders the bier on which lay the body of Virgin.

When the procession reached Gethsemane, the faithful began to offer their last kiss of her pure body with weeping and wailing. Only toward evening could the holy apostles place the coffin into the tomb and close the entrance to the cave with a large stone. For three days they did not depart from the burial place, offering unceasing prayers and psalms.

In the evening, when the apostles gathered in the house to nourish themselves with food, the Mother of God Herself appeared to them and said: “Rejoice! For I am with you all days!”  This brought extremely joy to the apostles and to all who were with them. They raised the portion of the bread placed on the table in memory of the Savior (“the portion of the Lord”), and exclaimed: “Holy Mother of God, help us.” Thus began the Rite of the Panagia – the custom of elevating an offering of bread in honor of the Mother of God, which to this day is observed in monasteries.

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