Sunday nearest the Assumption (August 15)

Assumption of the Mother of God, Armenian Apostolic Church

Assumption of the Virgin, from a Gospel manuscript of 1232, Matenadaran Institute, Yerevan, Armenia (source: "Manuscripts and Miniatures | Armenia Travel, History, Archeology & Ecology," TourArmenia | Travel Guide,
Today the gathered saints – blessed apostles and chaste women 
In garments luminous like torches – lit their lamps 
And sang in unison: Blessed are You, most praised among women. 

Today having placed the holy Virgin at the door of the tomb, 
They awaited and expected the coming of the Lord Himself. 
And behold, they saw on the highest heights the Creator, coming with a multitude of angels, 
While they sang in unison: Blessed are you, most praised among women. 

Today they saw the Holy Virgin flying through the air 
And on cloudy chariots ascending upward into the heavens, 
With the wise virgins entering into heavenly tabernacles. 
And in unison they sang: Blessed are you, most praised among women. 

Today, accompanied by the many-eyed Cherubim and the six-winged Seraphim, 
You entered into the seven starred tabernacle 
And saw the various thrones prepared for you, O Lady. 
We sing too in unison: Blessed are you, most praised among women.

This ancient Armenian hymn, the Canon for the Assumption of the Holy Mother of God, possibly written by Moses of Chorene around 800, vividly describes events following the Virgin's death. Hopeful rather than grieving, the disciples do not seal Mary's body in the tomb, but gather around it in prayer. They see Jesus coming in glory and the Virgin ascending to heaven, and, with worshipers through the ages, repeat St. Elizabeth's refrain, "Blessed art thou among women" (Luke 1:42). 

Since the 1100s, the Armenian Church has celebrated the Assumption of the Mother of God on the Sunday nearest August 15, together with the Blessing of the Grapes. According to custom, people refrain from eating grapes until after this ceremony, when growers each bring some of their first harvest to the church, then  take the blessed grapes to their cellars to mix in with the rest, extending the blessing over the whole crop. In pre-Christian times, an offering of first fruits to the goddess Anahit took place around this date.   

Sources include:

bullet"Asdvadzadzin Mother Of God," Gantegh 1.6 (August 2007), Sourp Hagop Armenian Church, Montréal,
bulletCharles Renoux, "La fęte de l’Assomption dans le rite Armenien," Paris, 2004,
bulletARMINA5, "The blessing of the grapes," Armenia - Events, Aug. 12, 2008,
bullet"Blessing of the Grapes," The Armenian Church-Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, May 23, 2011,

Also celebrated this day:

bulletNanebevzetí Panny Marie, Hrabyně, Opava, Moravia-Silesia, Czech Republic (Assumption of the Virgin Mary)
bulletNagyboldogasszony, Mátraverebély-Szentkút, Nógrád, Northern Hungary, Hungary (Assumption of the Blessed Virgin)
bulletNagyboldogasszony, Feldebrő, Heves, Northern Hungary, Hungary
bulletNagyboldogasszony, Zalaháshágy, Zala, Western Transdanubia, Hungary
bulletNagyboldogasszony, Ercsi, Fejér, Central Transdanubia, Hungary
bulletNádi Boldogasszony, Gyula, Békés, Southern Great Plain, Hungary (Blessed Virgin of the Cane)
bulletOur Lady, Consoler of the Afflicted, Kevelaer, Donnybrook, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
bulletVirgen de La Vega, Torre de Juan Abad, Ciudad Real, Castilla La Mancha, Spain. Romería. Fiesta Sept. 8.

Where We Walked ~~~ Mary Ann Daly