On the Dormition and the Holy Apostle Thomas

St. Maximus the Confessor ca. 580-662

Nevertheless, we have learned something else from truthful and reliable informants, and it has been written about before us and is trustworthy and reliable: that in the assembly of the holy Apostles for the Dormition of the Queen, one of the Apostles was providentially not able to arrive with the others. And the holy Apostles were expecting him, so that he perchance would also receive a blessing from the blessed and beloved body. Nevertheless, on the third day that Apostle also arrived, and he found his other comrades singing in front of the holy tomb, and he also heard the clear and sweet sound of the angels singing. And he besought the holy Apostles to open the venerable tomb so that he could embrace the all-holy body of the glorious Theotokos. Through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the blessed Apostles heard their brother’s plea and opened the holy tomb with fear. But when they opened it, they did not find the glorious body of the holy mother of Christ, for it had been translated wherever her Son and God wished. For as He Himself was placed in a tomb when He endured death in the flesh for the sake of our salvation and gloriously arose on the third day, so it also seemed fitting to place the immaculate body of His mother in a tomb and likewise to translate it into eternal incorruptibility as He wished, either so that both elements were again united with each other, for so the creator of all things was pleased to honor the one who gave Him birth, or in some other way that the King of Glory and the Lord of life and death alone knows. So then the tomb was found empty. They found only the burial wrappings and the shroud in which they had laid her to rest, and the body of the immaculate Virgin was not there, but it had been raised up to her Son and God so that she will live and reign with Him completely, and thus our nature was raised up to heaven in the eternal kingdom not only by her Son but also by the immaculate Mother. Then the blessed Aon postles were filled with astonishment and joy, and they understood that the late arrival of one of the Apostles had taken place providentially for the revelation of this mystery, so that for his sake the tomb would be opened and the holy body’s translation would be made known. And they glorified Christ, who had fully glorified His all-holy and immaculate Mother, for they were suffused with light and fragrance from the holy tomb in which the body of the holy Virgin, wider than heaven, had been placed, and the brilliance and fragrance spread throughout the whole area of Gethsemane. So again they closed the holy tomb, and the Dormition of the holy Theotokos was proclaimed to the entire world. Nevertheless, a report has been circulated and has come to our ears that the Apostle who arrived on the third day was Thomas, coming from India, so that, as the Resurrection of Christ had previously been made more credible by Thomas, when on the eighth day the Lord entered through closed doors and showed him his hands and his holy side (cf. also John 20.26–27), in this way now the translation of the incorruptibly immaculate body of the holy and all-glorious Theotokos and ever-virgin Mary also would be made known by Thomas. (The Life of the Virgin, 117-118)

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