Asteriyo Mariyam-The Departing of Saint Mary

The Eritrean Orthodox Tewahdo church commemorates the death of St. Mary on Tiri 21 (January 29). The day is known as Aster’eyo which means mean appearance/Epiphany. It coincides with the season the church devoted to remembering the different manifestations of Christ's glory and Divinity, especially the Nativity, the Baptism as well as the miracle at Cana.

The term Aster’eyo is more popular in the commemoration of the death of St. Mary on the stated day in view of the fact that God came with thousands of His angels to comfort her, as is recorded in Synaxarium. The 21st day of each Geez month is dedicated to commemorate Our Lady’s death and to venerate her. 

According to the Synaxarium, the Holy Spirit informed Our Lady Virgin St. Mary at her usual praying site in the Holy Sepulchre that she was about to depart from this temporal world. When the time of her departure came, the virgins of the Mount of Olives came to her with the apostles, who were still alive, and surrounded her bed.

Our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom is the glory, came to her with a host of thousands and thousands of angels and comforted her. He told her about the eternal joy that awaited her in heaven, and she rejoiced.

Before she passed away, the apostles and the virgins asked her to bless them. She stretched her hand and blessed them all. She then gave up her pure spirit in the hands of her Son and God who took it to the heavenly mansions.

The apostles prepared her body in a fitting manner and carried it to Gethsemane. Some Jews who were unfriendly to the apostles blocked their way to prevent them from burying the body. One of the Jews seized the coffin with his hands which were cut off instantly from his body and remained attached to the coffin. He regretted his evil deed and wept bitterly. Through the supplications of the saintly apostles, his hands were reattached to his body miraculously, and he believed in the Lord Christ. After the apostles placed St. Mary’s body in the tomb, the Lord hid it from them.

St. Thomas, one of the Lord’s disciples, was not present at the time of St. Mary's departure. He was heading to Jerusalem carried by a cloud. On his way, he saw the pure body of St. Mary carried by the angels and ascended to heaven with it. One of the angels told him, "Make haste and kiss the pure body of St. Mary," and he did.

When St. Thomas arrived where the disciples were, they told him about her departure and he said to them, "You know how I conducted myself at the resurrection of Our Lord. I will not believe unless I see her body." The apostles went with him to the tomb and uncovered the place of the body only to find out that it was not there. Everyone was perplexed and surprised.  

St. Thomas told them how he saw the holy body and the angels that were ascending with it. They heard the Holy Spirit saying to them, "The Lord did not will to leave her body on earth." The Lord had promised His pure apostles to let them see her in the flesh once again. They were waiting for this promise to be fulfilled, until the 16th day of the month of Nehasie/August, when the promise was fulfilled and they saw her.

The years of St. Mary’s life on earth were 64 years. She lived 3 years and seven months at her parent's house. She was then given to the priests in the temple to live there serving in God’s house where she stayed for 12 years. She left the temple when she reached 15.  She spent 34 years and three months in Joseph's house until the Ascension of the Lord and 14 years with St. John the Evangelist, according to what the Lord said when He was on the cross: "Behold, this is your son," and to St. John, "Behold, this is your mother."

May Her intercession and blessings be with us. Amen.

Source: Synaxarium


Post a comment