Where did the Catholic doctrine of the Assumption of Mary come from?


There is no actual scriptural support for the Assumption of Mary, although it has been the subject of speculation since at least the fourth century. The Assumption of the Blessed Mary was defined by Pope Pius XII in 1950, in Munificentissimus Deus : "By the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own authority, we pronounce, declare, and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma: that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory."

Catholics generally regard this as proof of the Assumption of Mary, as Pope Pius is almost universally assumed by Catholics to have defined it infallibly. However, Bishop Geoffrey Robinson (Confronting Power and Sex in the Catholic Church) believes that the pope's teaching on this subject was not infallible because a clause in Pastor Aeternalis, which defined papal infallibility in 1870, means that the pope can not infallibly define a new doctrine (chapter 4):

"6. For the Holy Spirit was promised to the successors of Peter not so that they might, by his revelation, make known some new doctrine, but that, by his assistance, they might religiously guard and faithfully expound the revelation or deposit of faith transmitted by the apostles."

As Pope Pius himself stated, he was pronouncing a new doctrine from divine revelation, not expounding a matter transmitted by the apostles. Bishop Robinson does not say the Assumption of Mary is necessarily untrue, merely that Pope Pius XII did not infallibly define it.

Catholic Answer:

If one understands scripture, the Assumption of Mary can be found there.

1 Corinthians 15:21-22

"For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.

For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive."

However, Mary was exempted from death and corruption because of her Immaculate Conception. She was born without the stain of Original Sin.

Then in Saint Luke's Gospel the Angel Gabriel in addressing Mary at the Annunciation:

"Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee,"

Had Mary carried the stain of Original Sin, she could not have been described as 'full of grace.'