Friday, August 14, 2020

Statement of Archfather Rutherford I on the Eve of the Assumption 2020


Statement of H.H.E. Archfather Don Rutherford I
on the Eve of the Feast of the Assumption 2020

Tomorrow, 15 August, we celebrate each year the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Our Lady, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heaven. Although believed from the time of the early Church, this was dogmatically defined by Pope Pius XII in the Apostolic Constitution Munificentissimus Deus

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The Assumption of Mary

The Assumption follows the dogma of the Blessed Virgin’s Immaculate Conception by which she was preserved free from original sin. It was that state that prepared her to be, if she so decided to be, the Mother of God. Our Lady, of course, did so consent upon the message of the Angel and accepted the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit. It was through her free choice and obedience to the will of God that Our Lord and Saviour was able to come into this world, and thus the Word became Incarnate.

Tradition holds that Our Lady was assumed into Heaven from what is now known as the Holy House of Mary in Ephesus, Roman Empire, in modern-day Turkey. We had the privilege of making a pilgrimage last summer to the Holy House. 
Relic of the Holy Belt of Mary in the
care of the Anglican Patriarchate

Also, tradition holds, as depicted in many paintings, that Our Lady dropped her girdle down to one of the Apostles. This is called the Holy Belt of Mary. The Anglican Patriarchate counts among the most sacred objects entrusted to its care a piece of the Holy Belt, which came to us via the Byzantine Roman Empire. 
Archfather Rutherford during a 
pilgrimage to the Holy House
of Mary in Ephesus.

Indeed, long before the formal dogmatic definition by Pius XII in 1950, the glorious Assumption of Mary was a part of the Christian Faith. It was an official feast by the mid-ninth century when it was set by Pope Leo IV. St. Gregory of Tours is among the earliest church official to speak officially of the bodily Assumption of Mary. Scriptural evidence also exists. In the 8th century, Pope Sergius I also celebrated the feast. It was during that time that our Diaconal Church in Rome, Santa Maria Antiqua, was prominent and later used as the seat of the Bishop of Rome. Indeed, the Church of Santa Maria Antiqua, located in the Roman Forum, contains the earliest-known still-intact depiction of Our Lady as Queen of Heaven. 

May our Lady on the Feast of the Assumption bestow her blessing upon each of you, that you may each be brought thereby closer to Our Lord and Saviour.