The great truth that we celebrate today is that, after Mary’s life on earth, she was taken bodily into heaven.
I understand that in some small towns in Italy today’s feast is celebrated in a very distinctive way. The celebration begins on the main street of the town. It consists of two processions.
The first procession begins at one end of the main street and heads to the town centre. The people in this procession carry a statue of Mary, representing Mary on her way to heaven after her life on earth came to an end.
The second procession begins on the opposite end of town and heads down the main street, also to the town centre. The people in this procession carry a statue of Jesus, representing Jesus going out to meet his mother as she arrives in heaven.
The big moment in the celebration comes when the two processions meet in the centre of the town. When this meeting takes place the two statues are made to bow to each other three times – a symbol of Jesus welcoming his mother at the gates of heaven.
Finally, the people carry the two statues side by side, in a single procession, into the parish church for the Mass of the feast-day, thereby symbolising Jesus leading his mother to her throne in heaven.
In this simple way people honour the profound truth that we celebrate today: that after Mary’s life on earth, she was taken bodily into heaven. One day we can hope to share in her glory, which is the glory of her Son, who wants us to be where he and his mother are now.
Today we rejoice that God saved her and raised her to the glory of heaven, glory which all of us are called to share.
Image: Fresco of the Assumption of Mary – Basílica de La Macarena – Seville