Gleanings from Orthodox Christian Authors and the Holy Fathers


8 Entries

If her Fruit, Whom none may comprehend, on Whose account she was called a heaven, submitted of His own will to burial as a mortal, how should she, who gave Him birth without knowing a man, refuse it?

O pure Virgin, sprung from mortal loins, thine end was conformable to nature: but because thou hast borne the true Life, thou hast departed to dwell with the divine Life Himself. Verses from the Canon of the Dormition of the Mother of God, quoted in The Life of the Virgin Mary

The Dormition icon is based not on Scriptural accounts, for there are none, but on sacred tradition. It is in accord with the hymnography of the Church, particularly with the expostilarion that is chanted on August 15 and the fourteen days that precede it. This Hymn says,

O ye Apostles from afar, being now gathered together here in the vale of Gethsemane, give burial to my body; and Thou, my Son and my God, receive Thou my spirit.

Although nothing is said about the death of the All-holy Virgin in the New Testament, the term that is used in the icon to denote here death; Koimesis, does appear in it. Also, verb forms of this word appear in it a good number of times to refer to the event of dying and the state of death in the case of the righteous. The noun koimesis is used in the Gospel according to St. John in speaking of the death of Lazarus. Constantine Cavarnos, A Guide to Byzantine Iconography, V. 1

"The Apostles took up her body on a bier and placed it in a tomb; and they guarded it, expecting the Lord to come. And behold, again the Lord stood by them; and the holy body having been received, He commanded that it be taken in a cloud into paradise: where now, rejoined to the soul, Mary rejoices with the Lord's chosen ones..." ~ St Gregory of Tours,Eight Books of Miracles, 6th century

"As the most glorious Mother of Christ,our Saviour and God and the giver of life and immortality, has been endowed with life by him, she has received an eternal incorruptibility of the body together with him who has raised her up from the tomb and has taken her up to himself in a way known only to him." ~ REF:St Modestos of Jerusalem, Homily on the Dormition (c.630AD) REF:Fr Seraphim Rose, "Letters"

"It was fitting that the most holy-body of Mary, God-bearing body, receptacle of God, divinised, incorruptible, illuminated by divine grace and full glory, should be entrusted to the earth for a little while and raised up to heaven in glory, with her soul pleasing to God." Theoteknos of Livias, Homily on the Assumption(c. 650AD)

"You are she who, as it is written, appears in beauty, and your virginal body is all holy, all chaste, entirely the dwelling place of God, so that it is henceforth completely exempt from dissolution into dust. Though still human, it is changed into the heavenly life of incorruptibility, truly living and glorious, undamaged and sharing in perfect life." REF:St. Germanus of Constantinople(733AD) REF:Fr Seraphim Rose, "Letters"

"It was fitting that the she, who had kept her virginity intact in childbirth, should keep her own body free from all corruption even after death. It was fitting that she, who had carried the Creator as a child at her breast, should dwell in the divine tabernacles. It was fitting that the spouse, whom the Father had taken to himself, should live in the divine mansions. It was fitting that she, who had seen her Son upon the cross and who had thereby received into her heart the sword of sorrow which she had escaped when giving birth to him, should look upon him as he sits with the Father, It was fitting that God's Mother should possess what belongs to her Son, and that she should be honored by every creature as the Mother and as the handmaid of God" St John of Damascene(c.749AD)

"St. Juvenal, Bishop of Jerusalem, when he was speaking at the Council of Chalcedon (451AD), made known to the Emperor Marcian and Pulcheria, who wished to possess the body of the Mother of God, that Mary died in the presence of all the Apostles, but that her tomb, when opened, upon the request of St. Thomas, was found empty; wherefrom the Apostles concluded that the body was taken up to heaven." St John of Damascene(c.749AD)

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