Dormition of the Theotokos Greek Orthodox Church in Oakmont, PA

Feast of the Holy Dormition

On August 15th of each year (new calendar), the Orthodox Church celebrates the Dormition of the Theotokos, or "The Falling Asleep of the Mother of God." Her departure from this earthly life is spoken of in this fashion because death is thought of as a transitory or "sleep-like" state in which the soul remains until the general resurrection and final judgment. Although the particulars surrounding the death of the Theotokos are not found in the Holy Bible, we have learned about them, as the Fifth Century Patriarch of Jerusalem, St. Juvenal, has said, from our Holy Tradition. The Falling Asleep of the Mother of God is found in the writings of Dionysius the Areopagite in the 1st century, as well as those of St. Epiphanius of Cyprus in the 4th century. And the account of her bodily ascent to Heaven was written of by Meliton, Bishop of Sardis, in the 2nd century.

During one of her many visits to Jesus' tomb on Golgotha, where she went to pray, the Virgin Mary was visited by the Archangel Gabriel, who told her of her impending repose. The Apostle John was mystically transported from Ephesus, answering her prayer, to be at her side. Many of the disciples unknowingly answered the Lord's call to be at her side. The Apostle Paul, together with his disciples and many others of the Seventy Apostles, were miraculously gathered — some transported by clouds — from far away places where they were preaching and evangelizing to be with Mary. Christ descended from Heaven at the appointed time, accompanied by Angels, Archangels and Heavenly Hosts and surrounded by the Divine Light, and carried her soul to Heaven.

Dormition of the Theotokos by Philip Zimmerman, Iconographer

Epitaphion Flowers

The Ever-Virgin Mary was buried in the family tomb in the Garden of Gethsemane. The "wise providence" of God saw to it that all but one Apostle was not present at the repose of the Theotokos — Thomas, the one in the same who denied that Christ had risen from the dead and had appeared before him in the flesh. Thomas, arriving three days later, was deeply saddened. He wept at the entrance to her tomb and asked that he be permitted to see the Mother of God one final time. Her tomb was found empty, however, except for a few items: the Theotokos' sash and burial garments...... and the most beautiful flowers, which filled the tomb with a sweetly fragrant scent!

For a most informative and authoritative record of the Dormition from the Holy Tradition of the Orthodox Church, please click on the following links from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, The Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of North America and the Orthodox Church in America. The last two links have text, photos and video from the Church of the Dormition, in Jerusalem.

From the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese:
The Dormition of our Most Holy Lady the Theotokos and Ever Virgin Mary
Feast of the Dormition of our Most Holy Lady, The Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary

From the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America:
Dormition of our Most Holy Lady the Mother of God and Ever-Virgin Mary

From the Orthodox Church in America:
The Dormition of our Most Holy Lady the Mother of God and Ever-Virgin Mary

From the OCA:
Sermon on the Dormition of the Virgin Mary, Saint Gregory Palamas, Archbishop of Thessalonica

From "Mystagogy", the Weblog of John Sanidopolous:
Text, photos & YouTube video of The Feast of he Dormition at the Tomb of Mary in Gethsemane

From the OrthodoxWord:
The Tomb of the Most Holy Virgin, Jerusalem
The Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos

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