The Festival of the Blessed Virgin Mary


Dormition of Blessed Virgin Mary from the Nave of Chora Church of the Redeemer, Istanbul

Today the Church worldwide celebrates the death of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  it is referred to as the Dormition or Assumption of the Virgin Mary.  The picture is of a mosaic in the Narthex of the ancient Byzantine Church in Istanbul, Turkey.

Mary is shown dead on her bier.  Behind her stands Christ holding her soul, represented as a baby in swaddling cloths.  Over Christ’s head hovers a six-winged seraph.  Around stand the apostles, evangelists and early bishops.

Mary accompanied Jesus during his ministry, was there at the cross as he died.  After Jesus’ ascension she is mentioned as being with the disciples as they prayed in the upper room.  Presumably too she was with them at Pentecost as described in Acts chapter two.   We know very little about her life after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, her son.

Mary may well have come to live in Ephesus, Asia Minor, in the first century with the Apostle John.  Through the ages Mary has been much revered in what is now modern day Turkey.  Mary is depicted in the ancient churches throughout Turkey.

One of the bible readings for today is from Revelation.  It is an alternative account of the birth of Jesus written by the Apostle John.

Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and within his temple was seen the ark of his covenant. And there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake and a severe hailstorm.

​ A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on its heads. Its tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that it might devour her child the moment he was born. She gave birth to a son, a male child, who “will rule all the nations with an iron scepter.” And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne. The woman fled into the wilderness to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days.  Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:
“Now have come the salvation and the power
and the kingdom of our God,
and the authority of his Messiah.
For the accuser of our brothers and sisters,
who accuses them before our God day and night,
has been hurled down.  (Rev 11:19-12:6, 10)

Collect for today
Almighty God,
who looked upon the lowliness of the Blessed Virgin Mary
and chose her to be the mother of your only Son:
grant that we who are redeemed by his blood
may share with her in the glory of your eternal kingdom;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.  Amen