In Honor of the Assumption

A Prayer of Pope Pius XII

Sculpture in Mallorca cathedral : Mary's death
Philippe Lissac / Getty Images

This beautiful prayer in honor of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary was composed by Pope Pius XII. In 1950, the same pope declared the Assumption, the belief that the Virgin Mary was taken up, body and soul, into Heaven at the end of her earthly life, as a dogma of the Catholic Church. Far from being a theological innovation, this belief had been held by Christians universally from the earliest days of Christianity, and it had taken centuries after the Reformation for the belief to begin to decay even among Protestants.

By 1950, however, it had come under attack, and Pius's declaration of the dogma, like all exercises of papal infallibility, was in support of tradition, not in contradiction of it. (For more on the history of Christian belief in the Assumption, see the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Did Mary Die Before Her Assumption?)

Throughout this prayer, you will notice echoes of the Hail Holy Queen, and the final paragraph repeats several of the phrases of the latter prayer verbatim. The Assumption of Mary and the idea of her queenship in Heaven are closely tied together; and Catholics celebrate the Queenship of Mary on the octave (eighth day) of the Assumption.

In Honor of the Assumption

O Immaculate Virgin, Mother of God and Mother of men.

We believe with all the fervor of our faith in your triumphal Assumption, both in body and soul, into heaven, where you are acclaimed as Queen by all the choirs of angels and all the legions of saints; and we unite with them to praise and bless the Lord who has exalted you above all other pure creatures, and to offer you the tribute of our devotion and our love.

We know that your gaze, which on earth watched over the humble and suffering humanity of Jesus, is filled in heaven with the vision of that Humanity glorified, and with the vision of Uncreated Wisdom; and that the joy of your soul in the direct contemplation of the adorable Trinity causes your heart to throb with overwhelming tenderness.

And we, poor sinners, whose body weighs down the flight of the soul, beg you to purify our hearts, so that, while we remain here below, we may learn to see God, and God alone, in the beauties of His creatures.

We trust that your merciful eyes may deign to glance down upon our miseries and our sorrows, upon our struggles and our weaknesses; that your countenance may smile upon our joys and our victories; that you may hear the voice of Jesus saying to you of each one of us, as He once said to you of His beloved disciple: behold thy son.

And we who call upon you as our Mother, like John, take you as the guide, strength, and consolation of our mortal life.

We are inspired by the certainty that your eyes which wept over the earth, watered by the Blood of Jesus, are yet turned toward this world, held in the clutch of wars, persecutions, and oppression of the just and the weak.

And from the shadows of this vale of tears, we seek in your heavenly assistance and tender mercy comfort for our aching hearts and help in the trials of the Church and of our fatherland.

We believe, finally, that in the glory where you reign, clothed with the sun and crowned with the stars, you are, after Jesus, the joy and gladness of all the angels and of all the saints.

And from this earth, over which we tread as pilgrims, comforted by our faith in the future resurrection, we look to you, our life, our sweetness, and our hope; draw us onward with the sweetness of your voice, that one day, after our exile, you may show us Jesus, the blessed Fruit of your womb, O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.