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The Dormition of the Virgin Mary

An icon of the Dormition of the Virgin Mary.

THE ICON

The Theotokos - depicted upon the funeral bier.

Christ - standing behind the Theotokos is her Son, Who has come to receive His Mother's soul into heaven; He holds in His left arm an infant in white, symbolizing the soul of the Theotokos; Christ is robed in gold and appears in a mandorla (body halo) denoting the Light of His Divinity.

The Apostles - on either side of the bier stand the Apostles; the group on the left is led by St. Peter who stands at the head of the bier; the group on the right is led by St. Paul who stands at the foot of the bier.

THE FEAST

The Feast of the Dormition or the Falling Asleep of the Theotokos is preceded by a two week fast. This feast, which is sometimes called the "Assumption," commemorates the death, resurrection and glorification of Christ's Mother. It proclaims that Mary has been "assumed" by God into the heavenly kingdom of Christ in the fullness of her spiritual and bodily existence.

As with the Nativity of the Virgin and the feast of her Entrance to the Temple, there are no biblical or historical sources for this feast. The Tradition of the Church is that Mary died as all people die, not "voluntarily" as her Son, but by the necessity of her mortal human nature which is indivisibly bound up with the corruption of this world.

The Church proclaims that Mary truly needed to be saved by Christ as all human persons are saved from trials, sufferings and death of this world; and that having truly died, she was raised by her Son as the Mother of Life and participates already in the eternal life of paradise which is prepared and promised to all who "hear the word of God and keep it." (Luke 11:27-28) Finally, we celebrate the fact that what happens to Mary happens to all who imitate heir holy life of humility, obedience and love. (Taken from Worship, The Orthodox Faith, Vol. II, by Fr. Thomas Hopko)

TROPARION

IN GIVING BIRTH YOU PRESERVED YOUR VIRGINITY, IN FALLING ASLEEP YOU DID NOT FORSAKE THE WORLD, THEOTOKOS. YOU WERE TRANSLATED TO LIFE, O MOTHER OF LIFE, AND BY YOUR PRAYERS, YOU DELIVER OUR SOULS FROM DEATH.

KONTAKION

NEITHER THE TOMB, NOR DEATH COULD HOLD THE THEOTOKOS, WHO IS CONSTANT IN PRAYER AND OUR FIRM HOPE IN HER INTERCESSIONS. FOR BEING THE MOTHER OF LIFE, SHE WAS TRANSLATED TO LIFE BY THE ONE WHO DWELT IN HER VIRGINAL WOMB.