MONDAY, AUGUST 15: Whether through a religious parade, vibrant festival, pilgrimage or public holiday, billions of Christians today mark the Assumption of Mary, or the Dormition of the Theotokos.
The “taking of Mary” into Heaven has been taught in both Eastern and Western Christian churches since the 7th century—but details vary now. The Roman Catholic Church instructs as dogma that Mary was assumed, body and soul, into heaven, although this dogma was only infallibly defined in 1950 and it was not defined whether Mary had died prior to her Assumption or not (Read more at Women for Faith and Family); Eastern Christians believe Mary died a mortal death and that while her soul ascended immediately, her body ascended on the third day after her death. (Eastern Christians have been holding a strict fast leading up to the Dormition, or “falling asleep,” of Mary. Learn more from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.)
Some countries take a public holiday today: Austria, Belgium, France, Greece, Poland and Spain are just a few. Costa Rica celebrates today in combination with Mother’s Day. (Wikipedia has details.)
This year in Romania, an antique train was repaired as an alternative mode of transportation for pilgrims to an ancient basilica, church and monastery dedicated to the Holy Theotokos, all as part of the Pilgrim to Bucovina program. (Read an article here.) This train, which will be pulled by the oldest steam engine in Romania, is a pilot program to see if pilgrim traffic can be increased. Officials hope the project will be successful and the train will keep running for future tourists.
Originally published at readthespirit.com, an online journal covering religion and cultural diversity.