Friday, August 15, 2008

Feast at the Dormition Abbey

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Today is a big feast-day. In some countries it is even a public holiday.
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Catholics call it the Feast of the Assumption. According to their Catechism, Mary, "having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory."
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Eastern Christians use another name. According to a good Greek Orthodox website, "The Feast of the Dormition of Our Most Holy Lady, the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary is celebrated on August 15 each year. The Feast commemorates the repose (dormition and in the Greek kimisis) or "falling-asleep" of the Mother of Jesus Christ, our Lord. The Feast also commemorates the translation or assumption into heaven of the body of the Theotokos."
 The Jerusalem Patriarchate is Old Calendar, as are the Orthodox monastic communities in the Holy Land. So they  celebrate  Dormition on August 28.

This post shows how I saw it celebrated in 2007 and 2006 in the Dormition Abbey on Mount Zion, in Jerusalem. I did not take pictures during the liturgy in the sanctuary. But when we went down to the crypt to continue the prayer, it was dark enough that I could discreetly shoot a few photos.

The Benedictine monks and priests and the people gathered around Mary.
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German and Latin were the main languages.
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Here above, a monk offers greens for a special blessing as part of the liturgy.

Afterwards, the faithful lingered to light candles or kneel in private prayer.
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Wikipedia says,
"The Assumption is important to many Catholics as the Virgin Mary's heavenly birthday (the day that Mary was received into Heaven). Her acceptance into the glory of Heaven is seen by them as the symbol of the promise made by Jesus to all enduring Christians that they too will be received into paradise."
So it was appropriate for a "birthday" to continue the celebration with a reception in the courtyard.
As the monk said, his cowl is not just for prayer but also a good shield from the intense noonday sun.
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Bon fete to Christians who mark this day!
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9 comments:

Petrea said...

A lovely and informative post, Dina. Churches are often so dark and mysterious to me--enticing, in that way. I like your photos of this one.

Louise said...

As usual, this post is so interesting. Your pictures add a lot to the text.

nonizamboni said...

Its been years since I really thought about the true meaning of Mary's assumption. We learned it by rote in parochial school but I don't think we had a clue. Thanks for the reminder. Excellent photos and post.
Thanks for sharing!

MEDITERRANEAN KIWI said...

hi dina, we celebrated this holiday in greece yesterday. here's a little extra info on the way the greeks celebrate it:
the dormition of virgin mary is the third most important religious holiday in the greek orthodox church. (the first is easter, followed by christmas). the three most important religious feasts are preceded by a period of fasting. in the case of the dormition, the fasting period (along the same principles as the great lent of easter) is the 14 days preceding the day of the feast. women whose name is mary, maria, panagiota (all-holy-one) and other variations, as well as men whose name is mario or panagioti celebrate their nameday then, which is actually a more important personal feast day than a birthday in the lives of greek people.

MEDITERRANEAN KIWI said...

i also have a special post planned for you on 6 september in my blog - hope you get the chance to see it!

Abu Dhabi/UAE Daily Photo said...

It's been a while since I've heard must about the Feast of the Assumption (when I lived in Spain, perhaps).Great story and photos.

USelaine said...

I especially like the photo of the candles, with the belladonna lilies flanking the figure of Mary. Wonderful and simple.

chanpheng said...

Wonderful post. The pictures and your words are just perfect.

Web-OJ said...

I've been here. Loved seeing it again through your eyes. THANK YOU!