Alternatively known as the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary or the Dormition of the Most Holy Mother of God, this day is a celebration of the Virgin Mary’s assumption into Heaven by God. Christians believe that when the Virgin Mary died, her body did not undergo physical decay but was instead received into Heaven to be reunited with her soul.
In many European countries, such as France and Italy, the day is a public holiday and people take to the streets to watch processions and firework displays. In Sicily and rural areas outside Rome, a special bowing ceremony takes place in which a statue of the Virgin Mary is carried through the streets to the parish church. Here, a statue of Christ is held aloft under a ceremonial arch of flowers. The two statues are made to ‘bow’ to each other three times before the Virgin Mary follows her son into the church for a special benediction.
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