Marking Mary's Assumption
Aug. 15 is a holy day of obligation
The Catholic Church teaches that at the end of her earthly life, the Virgin Mary was taken up body and soul into heaven. Her Assumption is seen as the pledge of fulfillment of Christ's promise of resurrection.
The feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is celebrated on Aug. 15, which this year will occur on a Wednesday and will be a holy day of obligation. That means Catholics are required to attend Mass.
There are no direct biblical references to the Assumption, but the feast has been passed on through theological reflection and tradition. Its origins stretch back to the fifth century when Christians celebrated it as a "Memorial of Mary." Rome adopted the feast in the seventh century and it became known as the Assumption of Mary.
The "Encyclopedia of Catholic Doctrine" notes that by the 16th century the feast had become the greatest of the Marian liturgical celebrations and among the most prominent of the church year.
Pope Pius XII defined the solemnity as a dogma of faith on Nov. 1, 1950.