· Holy Mary 

    V. POST-PENTECOSTAL LIFE OF MARY. — On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Ghost had descended on Mary as He came on the Apostles and Disciples gathered together in the upper room at Jerusalem. No doubt, the words of St. John (xix, 27), "and from that hour the disciple took her to his own", refer not merely to the time between Easter and Pentecost, but they extend to the whole of Mary's later life. Still, the care of Mary did not interfere with John's Apostolic ministry. Even the inspired records (Acts, viii, 14-17; Gal., i, 18-19; Acts, xxi, 18) show that the apostle was absent from Jerusalem on several occasions, though he must have taken part in the Council of Jerusalem, A.D. 51 or 52. We may also suppose that in Mary especially were verified the words of Acts, ii, 42: "And they were persevering in the doctrine of the apostles, and in the communication of the breaking of bread, and in prayers". Thus Mary was an example and a source of encouragement to the early Christian community. At the same time, it must be confessed that we do not possess any authentic documents bearing directly on Mary's post-Pentecostal life. As to tradition, there is some testimony for Mary's temporary residence in or near Ephesus, but the evidence for her permanent home in Jerusalem is much stronger.

    Mary's Ephesian residence rests on the following evidence: (1) A passage in the synodal letter of the Council of Ephesus reads (Labbe, Collect. Concilior., III, 573): "Wherefore also Nestorius, the instigator of the impious heresy, when he had come to the city of the Ephesians, where John the Theologian and the Virgin Mother of God St. Mary, estranging himself of his own accord from the gathering of the holy Fathers and Bishops. . ." Since St. John had lived in Ephesus and had been buried there (Eusebius, Hist. Eccl., III, 31; V, 24, P.G., XX, 280, 493), it has been inferred that the ellipsis of the synodal letter means either, "where John. . .and the Virgin. . .Mary lived", or, "where John. . .and the Virgin. . .Mary lived and are buried". (2) Bar-Hebraeus or Abulpharagius, a Jacobite bishop of the thirteenth century, relates that St. John took the Blessed Virgin with him to Patmos, then founded the Church of Ephesus, and buried Mary no one knows where (cf. Assemani, Biblioth. orient., Rome, 1719-1728, III, 318). (3) Benedict XIV (de fest. D.N.J.C., I, vii, 101) states that Mary followed St. John to Ephesus and died there. He intended also to remove from the Breviary those lessons which mention Mary's death in Jerusalem, but died before carrying out his intention (cf. Arnaldi, super transitu B.M.V., Genes 1879, I, c. I). (4) Mary's temporary residence and death in Ephesus are upheld by such writers as Tillemont [116], Calmet (Dict. de la Bible, art. Jean, Marie, Paris, 1846, II, 902; III, 975-976), etc. (5) In Panaghia Kapoli, on a hill about nine or ten miles distant from Ephesus, was discovered a house, or rather its remains, in which Mary is supposed to have lived. The house was found, as it had been sought, according to the indications given by Catharine Emmerich in her life of the Blessed Virgin.

    On closer inspection these arguments for Mary's residence or burial in Ephesus are not unanswerable.

    (1) The ellipsis in the synodal letter of the Council of Ephesus may be filled out in such a way as not to imply the assumption that Our Blessed Lady either lived or died in Ephesus. As there was in the city a double church dedicated to the Virgin Mary and to St. John, the incomplete clause of the synodal letter may be completed so as to read, "where John the Theologian and the Virgin. . .Mary have a sanctuary". This explanation of the ambiguous phrase is one of the two suggested in the margin in Labbe's Collect. Concil. (l.c.) (cf. Le Camus, Les sept Eglises de l'Apocalypse, Paris, 1896, 131-133). (2) The words of Bar-Hebraeus contain two inaccurate statements; for St. John did not found the Church of Ephesus, nor did he take Mary with him to Patmos. St. Paul founded the Ephesian Church, and Mary was dead before John's exile in Patmos. It would not be surprising, therefore, if the writer were wrong in what he says about Mary's burial. Besides, Bar-Hebraeus belongs to the thirteenth century; the earlier writers had been most anxious about the sacred places in Ephesus; they mention the tomb of St. John and of a daughter of Philip (cf. Polycrates, in Eusebius's Hist. Eccl., XIII, 31, P.G., XX, 280), but they say nothing about Mary's burying place. (3) As to Benedict XIV, this great pontiff is not so emphatic about Mary's death and burial in Ephesus, when he speaks about her Assumption in heaven. (4) Neither Benedict XIV nor the other authorities who uphold the Ephesian claims, advance any argument that has not been found inconclusive by other scientific students of this question. (5) The house found in Panaghia-Kapouli is of any weight only in so far as it is connected with the visions of Catherine Emmerich. Its distance from the city of Ephesus creates a presumption against its being the home of the Apostle St. John. The historical value of Catherine's visions is not universally admitted. Mgr. Timoni, Archbishop of Smyrna, writes concerning Panaghia-Kapouli: "Every one is entire free to keep his personal opinion". Finally the agreement of the condition of the ruined house in Panaghia-Kapouli with Catharine's description does not necessarily prove the truth of her statement as to the history of the building (In connection with this controversy, see Le Camus, Les sept Eglises de l'Apocalypse, Paris, 1896, pp. 133-135; Nirschl, Das Grab der hl. Jungfrau, Mainz, 1900; P. Barnabé, Le tombeau de la Sainte Vierge a Jérusalem, Jerusalem, 1903; Gabriélovich, Le tombeau de la Sainte Vierge à Ephése, réponse au P. Barnabé, Paris, 1905)

    Two considerations militate against a permanent residence of Our Lady in Jerusalem: first, it has already been pointed out that St. John did not permanently remain in the Holy City; secondly, the Jewish Christians are said to have left Jerusalem during the periods of Jewish persecution (cf. Acts, viii, 1; xii, 1). But as St. John cannot be supposed to have taken Our Lady with him on his apostolic expeditions, we may suppose that he left her in the care of his friends or relatives during the periods of his absence. And there is little doubt that many of the Christians returned to Jerusalem, after the storms of persecution had abated. Independently of these considerations, we may appeal to the following reasons in favour of Mary's death and burial in Jerusalem: (1) In 451 Juvenal, Bishop of Jerusalem, testified to the presence of Mary's tomb in Jerusalem. It is strange that neither St. Jerome, nor the Pilgrim of Bordeaux, nor again pseudo-Silvia give any evidence of such a sacred place. But when the Emperor Marcion and the Empress Pulcheria asked Juvenal to send the sacred remains of the Virgin Mary from their tomb in Gethsemani to Constantinople, where they intended to dedicate a new church to Our Lady, the bishop cited an ancient tradition saying that the sacred body had been assumed into heaven, and sent to Constantinople only the coffin and the winding sheet. This narrative rests on the authority of a certain Euthymius whose report was inserted into a homily of St. John Damascene (hom. II in dormit. B.V.M., 18 P.G., XCVI, 748) now read in the second Nocturn of the fourth day within the octave of the Assumption. Scheeben (Handb. der Kath. Dogmat., Freiburg, 1875, III, 572) is of opinion that Euthymius's words are a later interpolation: they do not fit into the context; they contain an appeal to pseudo-Dionysius (de divinis Nomin., III, 2, P.G., III, 690) which are not otherwise cited before the sixth century; and they are suspicious in their connection with the name of Bishop Juvenal, who was charged with forging documents by Pope St. Leo (et. XXIX, 4, P.L., LIV, 1044). In his letter the pontiff reminds the bishop of the holy places which he has under his very eyes, but does not mention the tomb of Mary (ep. CXXXIX, 1, 2, P.L., LIV, 1103, 1105). Allowing that this silence is purely incidental, the main question remains, how much historic truth underlies the Euthymian account of the words of Juvenal? (2) Here must be mentioned too the apocryphal "Historia dormitionis et assumptionis B.M.V.", which claims St. John for its author (cf. Assemani, Biblioth. orient., III, 287). Tischendorf believes that the substantial parts of the work go back to the fourth, perhaps even to the second, century (Apoc. apocr., Mariae dormitio, Leipzig, 1856, p. XXXIV). Variations of the original text apeared in Arabic and Syriac, and in other languages; among these must be noted a work called "De transitu Mariae Virg.", which appeared under the name of St. Melito of Sardes (P.G., V, 1231-1240; cf. Le Hir, Etudes bibliques, Paris, 1869, LI, 131-185). Pope Gelasius enumerates this work among the forbidden books (P.L., LIX, 152). The extraordinary incidents which these works connect with the death of Mary do not concern us here; but they place her last moments and her burial in or near Jerusalem. (3) Another witness for the existence of a tradition placing the tomb of Mary in Gethsemani is the basilica erected above the sacred spot, about the end of the fourth or the beginning of the fifth century. The present church was built by the Latins in the same place in which the old edifice had stood (Guerin, Jerusalem, Paris, 1889, 346-350; Socin-Benzinger, Palastina und Syrien, Leipzig, 1891, pp. 90-91; Le Camus, Notre voyage aux pays bibliqes, Paris, 1894, I, 253). (4) In the early part of the seventh century, Modestus, Bishop of Jerusalem, located the passing of Our Lady on Mount Sion, in the house which contained the Cenacle and the upper room of Pentecost (P.G., LXXXVI, 3288-3300). At that time, a single church covered the localities consecrated by these various mysteries. One must wonder at the late evidence for a tradition which became so general since the seventh century. (5) Another tradition is preserved in the "Commemoratorium de Casis Dei" addressed to Charlemagne (Tobler, Itiner, Terr. sanct., Leipzig, 1867, I, 302). It places the death of Mary on Mt. Olivet where a church is said to commemorate this event. Perhaps the writer tried to connect Mary's passing with the Church of the Assumption as the sister tradition connected it with the cenacle. At any rate, we may conclude that about the beginning of the fifth century there existed a fairly general tradition that Mary had died in Jerusalem, and had been buried in Gethsemani. This tradition appears to rest on a more solid basis than the report that Our Lady died and was buried in or near Ephesus. As thus far historical documents are wanting, it would be hard to establish the connection of either tradition with apostolic times. Cf. Zahn, Die Dormitio Sanctae Virginis und das Haus des Johannes Marcus, in Neue Kirchl. Zeitschr., Leipzig, 1898, X, 5; Mommert, Die Dormitio, Leipzig, 1899; Séjourné, Le lieu de la dormition de la T.S. Vierge, in Revue biblique, 1899, pp.141-144; Lagrange, La dormition de la Sainte Vierge et la maison de Jean Marc, ibid., pp. 589, 600.

    It has been seen that we have no absolute certainty as to the place in which Mary lived after the day of Pentecost. Though it is more probable that she remained uninterruptedly in or near Jerusalem, she may have resided for a while in the vicinity of Ephesus, and this may have given rise to the tradition of her Ephesian death and burial. There is still less historical information concerning the particular incidents of her life. St. Epiphanius (hær. LXXVIII, 11, P.G., XL, 716) doubts even the reality of Mary's death; but the universal belief of the Church does not agree with the private opinion of St. Epiphanius. Mary's death was not necessarily the effect of violence; it was undergone neither as an expiation or penalty, nor as the effect of disease from which, like her Divine Son, she was exempt. Since the Middle Ages the view prevails that she died of love, her great desire to be united to her Son either dissolving the ties of body and soul, or prevailing on God to dissolve them. Her passing away is a sacrifice of love completing the dolorous sacrifice of her life. It is the death in the kiss of the Lord (in osculo Domini), of which the just die. There is no certain tradition as to the year of Mary's death. Baronius in his Annals relies on a passage in the Chronicon of Eusebius for his assumption that Mary died A.D. 48. It is now believed that the passage of the Chronicon is a later interpolation (cf. Nirschl, Das Grab der hl. Jungfrau Maria, Mainz, 1896, 48). Nirschl relies on a tradition found in Clement of Alexandria (Stromat. vi, 5) and Apollonius (in Eus., Hist. eccl., I, 21) which refers to a command of Our Lord that the Apostles were to preach twelve years in Jerusalem and Palestine before going among the nations of the world; hence he too arrives at the conclusion that Mary died A.D. 48.

    The Assumption of Our Lady into heaven has been treated in a special article. The reader may consult also an article in the "Zeitschrift für katholische Theologie", 1906, pp. 201 sqq. The feast of the Assumption is most probably the oldest among all the feasts of Mary properly so called; cf. "Zeitschrift fur katholische Theologie", 1878, 213. As to art, the assumption was a favourite subject of the school of Siena which generally represents Mary as being carried to heaven in a mandorla.

The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XV, p. 470-471
Nihil Obstat, October 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor
Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York