Question from anonymous on 3/24/2008:
hii was just wondering what ever happened to Virgin Mary after Jesus died and what did she and Joseph die from??
Answer by Matthew Bunson on 4/7/2008:
This question has been asked before, so my apologies for repeating the answer previously given.
Mary was present at the Crucifixion in Jerusalem (Jn. 19:25-27), and there she was given into John’s care. She was also with the disciples in the days before the Pentecost (Acts 1:14), and it is believed that she was present at the resurrection and Ascension. No scriptural reference concerns Mary’s last years on earth. According to tradition, she went to Ephesus, where she experienced her “dormition.” Another tradition states that she remained in Jerusalem.
The dogma of the Assumption – that Mary was taken up body and soul into heaven, after the completion of her earthly life (termed her dormition – or falling asleep in the Lord) – was proclaimed on November 1, 1950 by Pope Pius XII in Munificentessimus Deus; There was extensive acceptance and support for the doctrines among theologians and saints for centuries prior to their formal proclamation by a pope. The doctrines were subject to intense study over a period of centuries, requiring a long process before formal acceptance was granted.
We known very little about the exact date of the dormition and Assumption. It is possible, based on various writings, that the dormition occurred not too many years after Jesus’ death and Resurrection and took place either in Jerusalem or Ephesus. The earliest surviving reliable references to the Assumption are the sermons of St. Andrew of Crete, St. John Damascene, St. Modestus of Jerusalem and others. In the West, meanwhile, St. Gregory of Tours is generally credited with mentioning it first. St. John Damascene added that St. Juvenal, Bishop of Jerusalem, at the Council of Chalcedon (451), informed Emperor Marcian and Empress Pulcheria (who wished to possess the mortal remains of the Mother of God) that Mary died in the presence of all the Apostles, but that her tomb, when opened was found empty; the Apostles thus concluded that the body was taken up to heaven.
As for Joseph, the Gospels make reference to Jesus as the son of Joseph and the carpenter, humble origins that caused great consternation among Jesus’ critics. There is considered a likelihood that Joseph was older than Mary at the time of their marriage and died at some point after Jesus’ 12th year (Lk. 2:41–50) and at a time before the commencement of his public ministry. Mark would seem to support such a hypothesis in that he made no mention of Joseph, as he dedicated none of his narrative to Jesus’ life prior to his baptism. The use of the term for Jesus, “Son of Mary” would also tend to support the hypothesis that she was a widow. Joseph figured prominently in apocryphal literature, such as the Story of Joseph the Carpenter, that claimed Joseph lived to 111. This is unlikely, and the ages asserted by such later writers as Epiphanius are probably not reliable. He was probably buried at Nazareth. A host of other traditions pertaining to Joseph were preserved in the apocryphal NT writings. These include: the so-called Gospel of James, the Pseudo-Matthew, the Gospel of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary, and the Life of the Virgin and Death of Joseph.
Joseph stands in the NT as a man of virtue and obedience to the will of God. He was concerned not to bring scandal or harm to Mary when learning of her pregnancy (see also Adultery) and accepted the commissioning of God to care for Mary and Jesus. (CCC 437.) In this sense, Joseph received his own annunciation and “did as the angel of the Lord commanded him” (Mt. 1:24). This obedience has been termed, “the beginning of ‘Joseph's way.’” (Pope John Paul II, Redemptoris Custos, 17.)