Hi, Grace —
Thanks for the question.
From history and tradition we know
that Mary went to live with the Apostle,
John, in Asia Minor, near Ephesus.
As Catholics, we know by Sacred Tradition
that Mary was bodily assumed into
Heaven at the end of her earthly
days. This was not the same thing
as Christ ascending to Heaven by
His own power on Ascension Thursday
but can be compared to Elijah being
carried to Heaven in a Chariot. (2
In a sense, Mary's Assumption is
the "first fruit" of what will happen
on the last day, when the graves
are opened, the dead "in Christ"
shall rise, and those who are living,
will be transformed in the twinkling
of an eye and they will be caught
up in the clouds with Jesus.
(1 Corinthians 15:51-53)
Let me first emphasize, as Catholics,
we have two kinds of tradition. One
with a lower
case t, another with an upper
case T. The former we
are free to believe, the latter we
are bound to believe.
In the case of Mary, we have a Tradition
T) that Mary was assumed.
In the Bull Munificentissimus
Deus, promulgated on November,
1 1950, Pope Pius XII declared:
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.
This is a belief the Church has held
since Apostolic times.
Regarding the circumstances of Mary's
Assumption, there are two different
Catholic traditions (lower
case t) which are of equal merit:
- In the Eastern Churches, it is
popular to believe that Mary died
or fell asleep in the Lord and
then was assumed into Heaven.
Thus in the East, they celebrate
what they call the feast of the
Dormition (falling asleep).
- In the West, the predominant
tradition is she was taken up
into Heaven while she was still
Hope this helps,