When declaring the dogma of Mary’s Assumption into Heaven, Pope Pius XII cites sources that indicate Mary actually died before being assumed body and soul into Heaven.

In his encyclical Munificentissimus Deus, Pius XII references a liturgical prayer from the eighth century that says Mary died:

This is set forth in that sacramentary which Adrian I, our predecessor of immortal memory, sent to Emperor Charlemagne. These words are found in this volume: “Venerable to us, O Lord, is the festivity of this day on which the holy Mother of God suffered temporal death but still could not be kept down by the bonds of death, who has begotten your Son our Lord incarnate from herself.”

In the same encyclical, the Holy Father recalls the eloquent preaching on the Assumption of Mary by St. John Damascene, a Father and Doctor of the Church. This learned individual is known to have preached during the eighth century at the Tomb of Mary in Jerusalem with the following words: “Although the body was duly buried, it did not remain in the state of death, neither was it dissolved by decay. … You were transferred to your heavenly home, O Lady, Queen and Mother of God in truth.”

Another reference to her death occurred at the Council of Chalcedon in 451 when Emperor Marcian requested the relics of the Blessed Mother be given to him. He was told by St. Juvenal, Patriarch of Jerusalem, that there are no relics because “Mary had died in the presence of the Apostles; but her tomb when opened later … was found empty and so the Apostles concluded that the body was taken up into Heaven.”

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