Death of Virgin MaryQUESTION: Death of virgin Mary - How did she die?ANSWER:
We do not know for sure the place or circumstances of the death of Virgin Mary. One tradition attests that she died in Jerusalem. Another tradition points to the city of Ephesus, where she is said to have lived for a short time prior to her death.
As legend says, Mary did not live in the city of Ephesus itself because she liked remoteness, so she inhabited a small house on a hill to the left of the road from Jerusalem. It was a very lonely place, but had many fertile slopes as well as rock caves where several Christian family members and friends of Mary already lived. John had a house built for her there. She lived in what one would call a scattered village, as there were both Jewish and Christian settlers living in caves fitted out with woodworks, or in huts or tents. Mary's house was the only one built of stone.
Soon after her arrival there, Mary had built behind the house a Way of the Cross with twelve stations. At each Station, there were memorial stones -- eight smooth stones with many sides, each resting on a base of the same stone. The stones and their bases were all inscribed with Hebrew letters. These stations were all in little hollows, with the exception of the Station of Mount Calvary, which was on a hill. The Station of the Holy Sepulcher was in a little cave over this hill.
Her stone house had a spring running under it. The windows were high up near the flat roof, and the main part of the house was divided by a fireplace in the middle, sunk into the ground. Behind the fireplace was what was called Mary's oratory, which is defined as a small chapel for prayer. In a niche in the center of the wall, there was a receptacle like a tabernacle where a cross stood, about the length of a man's arm. To the right and left of the fireplace were doors which led into the back part of the house. The door to the right led to the bedchamber, and through the door to the left of the oratory was a small room where her clothes and other belongings were kept. She lived here quietly with a maidservant, a younger woman who gathered food when needed. John would visit them both when he was not away on travel.
Stories say that on the day of the death of Virgin Mary, she was lying on the couch in the little sleeping alcove of her home. She had lived a full life and her body was now old and tired. The Apostles had assembled there because of her impending death, and they held a service in the front part of the house. Peter stood in priestly vestment before the altar with the others behind him as if in a choir.
Several times throughout the day Mary was lifted up by the women to drink juice which had been pressed from yellow berries. Newcomers would come and be embraced by those who were already there, and after their feet had been washed, they approached Mary's couch to greet her in reverence. She was so weak that it was difficult for her to talk, but towards evening, as she realized her death was approaching, she said farewell to the Apostles, disciples, and women who were present. She lay back on her pillows and Peter gave her Holy Communion. Legend says she died after the ninth hour, which is the same time as Our Lord.
Legend says that Peter then anointed the body, praying as he did so. Myrrh was laid in the armpits and bosom of her body as well as between the shoulders and the neck, chin and cheeks. Her body was wrapped in a gravecloth and placed in a wicker coffin which stood nearby. On her breast was laid a wreath of red, white, and sky-blue flowers. The coffin was taken to the cave where she was buried.