“Why do you Catholics Believe Mary was Assumed into Heaven?”

by Steve Ray on November 16, 2020

Assumption of the VirginNice article from LifeTeen:

About twelve years ago a teen named Billy asked me this question, “Why do you Catholics believe that Mary ascended into heaven, when it’s not even in the Bible?”

He said “you Catholics” because he went to a local Bible Church but had been coming to a Life Teen Summer Bible Study with some of his Catholic friends.

“Well, first . . . ” I replied, “Mary did not ascend into heaven; the Blessed Virgin Mary was assumed into heaven. Jesus ascended by His own power. Mary was taken up into heaven by God.” That little difference is a big difference, so I wanted to be sure he understood it.

Billy then replied, “Okay, fine . . . but it’s still not in the Bible. The Church made it up.”

This is where the conversation got really interesting.


Maybe Mary didn’t die. Maybe she’s living in Brazil . . . next door to Elvis. Some people point to the fact that only Elijah and Enoch are mentioned as being carried off to heaven in Scripture, and since Mary is not, then “it must not be true.”

Have you ever noticed that although the Acts of the Apostles is an incredibly detailed accurate account of Sts. Peter and Paul, we do not read of their deaths on the pages of Scripture? Everything we know of their deaths comes from early oral tradition. In fact, the Bible doesn’t say what happened to most of the disciples. The Bible is silent in this area. Many Evangelicals accept the witness of Church history that Saint Peter was crucified upside-down in Rome, that Paul was beheaded, etc. — even though Scripture does not record these events.

We know, from oral tradition, that Mary was taken into the care of St. John (the writer of the fourth gospel and the Book of Revelation) and went to live with him in Ephesus (where he was a Bishop). We know that she was sought out for her counsel and wisdom and that she was exalted and honored throughout the community. Early Church Tradition upholds these facts as true, as do historic and non-canonical writings.

What is different, though, is that we know where the bones of Sts. Peter and Paul and other disciples like Mary Magdalene are because the early Christians took care of them. There is no record of where the bones of Mary are. It seems a little odd that if there had been a body no one would have given her a proper burial or that her tomb would not have become a landmark, does it not?


Well, if the woman who God specifically chose to bring His Son into the world and raise Him is not in heaven . . . none of us have a shot.

Seriously, though, is there Scriptural backing for this teaching about the Assumption? Absolutely!

While it does not explicitly state, “Mary assumed into heaven” in the Bible, stop and take a look at the verses from Revelation, written by John, of visions that were seen:

“Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant could be seen in the temple. There were flashes of lightning, rumblings, and peals of thunder, an earthquake, and a violent hailstorm. A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was with child and wailed aloud in pain as she labored to give birth. She gave birth to a son, a male child, destined to rule all the nations with an iron rod… Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have salvation and power come, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Anointed . . .” – Revelation 11:19, 12:1-6, 10

This revelation is referring to Mary in heaven. Mary is often referred to as the new “Ark of the Covenant.”

Indiana Jones went searching for the Ark of the Old Covenant which contained the Ten Commandments (Law), a pot of manna (heavenly bread) and the staff of Aaron (symbol of Priesthood). You can read about the Ark – but not Indiana Jones – in Hebrews 9:4. The Ark was kept free from all defect and corruption, made from the finest most pure materials to God’s exact specifications.

As the Ark of the New Covenant, Mary carried Christ who is the Law, the Bread of Life, and the Royal High Priest. Her Immaculate Conception and her state as ever-Virgin kept her free from defect and sin, preserving her throughout her life, until her death where she was immediately assumed to preserve her from any bodily corruption on earth. Notice, too, in this passage from Revelation that we see the Ark (which is missing on earth) in heaven immediately preceding our vision of this woman crowned in stars and holding a baby.

Don’t forget – to whom did God give this vision (Revelation)? He imparted it to St. John, the one who was entrusted with caring for Our Mother, Mary (John 19:25-27) for the remainder of her days on earth prior to her assumption.

In 1950, Pope Pius XII defined the doctrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary for the universal Church. The teaching was not new – only now formally clarified. He affirmed that at the end of her time on earth, Mary experienced immediately the resurrection of the body that is promised to all faithful followers of Jesus.

Basically, since Mary was preserved from original sin by the unique gift of Christ’s grace, she was able to experience the immediate perfect union with her Son in heaven, never knowing, tasting or suffering from bodily corruption or decay (due to death) in any way.

Remember, as Christians we believe in the Resurrection of the Body. As the Papal encyclical Lumen Gentium (68) asserts, Mary’s assumption and heavenly presence preceded and foreshadows our own future glory (1 Corinthians 15). You might want to check out how the Catechism of the Catholic Church explains it, too (CCC 966).

One of the things that sets us apart as Catholics from Christian denominations is that we have a rich understanding of Mary and a tradition of giving her the honor she deserves. She can teach us a lot through her example of virtue and her special role within the Church. Pray with Mary and she will lead you into a far deeper relationship with Her Son than you could ever achieve by your own direction.

I’m reminded of that conversation with the teen every year around this Feast Day, only I no longer call that teen, Billy, my friend . . . now I also call him, Father Bill. He went looking for Mary and found her . . . in the Catholic Church.

Hail Mary!

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

J. Bob November 17, 2020 at 11:25 AM

According to a medical article I read this year, during development in the womb, a baby and the mother exchange body cells, through the placenta. This exchange would help explain how the baby is born with a builtin immune system. These exchanged cell have long lasting effects, and their descendants could live on through the life of the mother. So in essence Mary would halved lived out her life carrying the cells of her Son. So when Jesus, in bodily form ascended, would He leave part of Him behind? Or would He later call His mother to join Him?
The mother of a Jewish King, was the only person who could sit in his presence, and was #2 in authority. It seems most likely that Mary would be united with Jesus, at the time of her passing, but in meantime she had her work to aid the Church in it’s infancy.

The TV series The Chosen has a very interesting take on the role of Mary, well worth considering.

William Hartko November 17, 2020 at 4:12 PM

One word- microchimerism.
Each of us, for some period of time-perhaps a lifetime-have cells within our body that are biologically not our cells. They may be a mother’s cells in the offspring or the offspring’s in the mother. How could Jesus’ cells in Mary die?

Peter K November 17, 2020 at 5:40 PM

“of the things that sets us apart as Catholics from other Christian denominations”

The Catholic Church is not a denomination.

Donald Link November 24, 2020 at 1:03 PM

I have never quite understood why Protestants have such a problem with Marian doctrine unless it is just something more they need to set themselves apart from Rome. They seem not to want to acknowledge the obvious, that the Almighty could choose nothing less than perfection to be the earthly mother of his Son.

FRANK November 25, 2020 at 9:13 AM

put me on your mailing list

Linda January 1, 2021 at 4:51 PM

J. Bob – believe I read the same article you did. Any mother carries cells of any of her children in her body forever. As a cradle Catholic I’ve struggled with my understanding and relationship with Mary through the years. As a Hispanic I’ve seen how many Catholics get to Mary and get sidetracked from having a relationship with Jesus. Not church teaching or intent. Just happens.
That article totally changed how I viewed the assumption of Mary into heaven. Would the father have left even one cell of his precious son to be corrupted in the grave? In was in completing that article that I realized how the assumption just made sense and science is not at odds with religion.
Why not let Mary go to the grave. Well for many reasons but most specifically because she was a vessel containing cells of the son of God.

Karen February 22, 2021 at 12:20 AM

But we know Jesus had brothers and sisters. Was Mary not their mother? Then she didn’t maintain her virginity.

STEVE RAY HERE: I fixed your spelling for you. First, God bless you. Second, there are many ways to explain that Jesus had “brothers.” First, the oldest teaching in the Church by the earliest Chistians was that Joseph was a widower and 4 sons and 2 daughters by a previous marriage. Thus, they would be step-brothers. Second, “brothers” was used of close relatives like cousins – like Abraham calling his nephew Lot his brother. Third, Jesus gave Mary to John at his crucifixion which would only be done if Joseph had died and she had no other sons.

Read https://www.catholic.com/qa/how-can-mary-be-a-perpetual-virgin-when-the-bible-says-jesus-had-brothers-and-sisters


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