Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Asunción de la Virgen. Spanish colonial santo with estofado finish.
Every August 15, Christians all over the world celebrate the feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary into heaven. According to the Golden Legend, three days after the Virgin's death, she was assumed corporeally into heaven. The Virgin, having led a pure life and most importantly, having been the Mater Dei or the Mother of God, the Virgin's physical body was assumed into heaven in accordance to God's will.
The Virgin assumed into the heaven. Her empty tomb lay open while the apostles mourn.
Various traditions and stories are attached to this final event in the life of the Virgin Mary. One tradition states that all of the Apostles, who were scattered from all over the four corners of the world spreading the word of Christ, suddenly found themselves miraculously transferred to the house of Virgin. The Apostles were brought together to join the Virgin in her last hours.
Another endearing tradition states that St. Thomas the apostle, having being late for the funeral of the Virgin (he had to travel from India, so says the stories.) did not believe that the Virgin has truly ascended into heaven. True to his doubtful nature, Thomas prayed to the Virgin and asked for concrete sign so he could believe the miracle. As a sign of her love, and to answer the doubtful apostle's imploration, the Virgin untied her cincture and dropped it on the way to heaven, down to Thomas.
The Virgin hoisted into the heaven by cherubic host. Spanish colonial. Polychrome wood.
Since the early days of Christianity, the Assumption of the Virgin has been an major holiday. To Catholics, this feast day is important. It is considered a Holiday of Obligation where going to church, hearing mass and participating in the Holy Communion on this day is more than encouraged, it's mandatory. The Catholic church considers the bodily assumption of the Virgin as a dogma and one of the fundamental beliefs of Catholicism. In 1950, Pope Pius the XII declared the Assumption of the Virgin an article of faith.
Personal altar decorated for the feast of the Assumption.
Consequently, on August the 22nd, a week after August the 15th, is the feast of the Coronation of the Virgin as Regina Coeli, the Queen of Heaven.
Virgen de la Asunción. An Ilocano santo found in an abandoned chapel in Cavite. Originally a "de tallado santo," carved in the round.
Text and Photos, Victor Ancheta ©2009