Orthodox Christians all around the world are celebrating the Virgin Mary’s Dormition of the Theotokos, or Assumption into Heaven as it is known in the Roman Catholic Church today, August 15.
Cyprus is observing a public holiday today, along with many other countries, as Greek Orthodox followers celebrate a major feast day after completing their 14-day fast.
Church’s across the island hold a service to mark the occasion.
The Dormition was the bodily taking up of the Virgin Mary into Heaven at the end of her earthly life.
The Dormition is celebrated every year on August 15, the same calendar day as the Roman Catholic Church’s Assumption.
The Dormition and the Assumption are different names for the same event, Mary’s departure from the earth, although the beliefs are not necessarily identical.
The Orthodox Church specifically holds one of two Roman Catholic alternative beliefs, teaching that Mary died a natural death, like any human being; that her soul was received by Christ upon death; and that her body was resurrected on the third day after her repose, at which time she was taken up, bodily only, into heaven when the apostles, miraculously transported from the ends of the earth, found her tomb to be empty.
While some Roman Catholics agree with the Orthodox that this happened after Mary’s death, others hold that she did not experience death and she was ‘assumed’ into heaven in bodily form, just as her son Jesus ascended.
The Assumption is important to many Catholic and Orthodox Christians as the Virgin Mary’s heavenly birthday (the day that Mary was received into Heaven).
Belief about her acceptance into the glory of Heaven is seen by some Christians as the symbol of the promise made by Jesus to all enduring Christians that they too will be received into paradise.