According to Church tradition, Mary was drawn up into heaven by God. Each year on August 15, we celebrate this event with the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary. Today we invite you to virtually explore where the Assumption is portrayed in the art and architecture of the Basilica.
The Assumption Chapel
Located in the Great Upper Church, the Assumption Chapel contains a glittering mosaic depicting God drawing Mary up to heaven in hues of gold, green, and white. This chapel also portrays an Old Testament parallel to the Assumption: Solomon bringing the Ark of the Covenant into the temple.
The Our Lady of Ta’ Pinu Oratory
The Assumption of Mary mosaic featured in the Our Lady of Ta’ Pinu Oratory is a mosaic reproduction of an oil painting that was originally created in 1619, by a Maltese artist named Bartolomeo Amadeo. In this breathtaking oratory, angels surround Mary as they lift her from her tomb and place a crown on her head.
The West Tympana
The west tympana of the Great Upper Church tell of significant events in the history of Marian doctrine, including the definition of the dogma of the Assumption in 1950 by Pope Pius XII. Though the Assumption of Mary is not documented in the New Testament, it is expounded in Section 966 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
Finally the Immaculate Virgin, preserved free from all stain of original sin, when the course of her earthly life was finished, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, so that she might be more fully conformed to her Son, the Lord of lords and conqueror of sin and death. The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin is a singular participation in her Son’s Resurrection and an anticipation of the resurrection of other Christians: In giving birth you kept your virginity; in your Dormition you did not leave the world, O Mother of God, but were joined to the source of Life. You conceived the living God and, by your prayers, will deliver our souls from death.
The Assumption Mosaic
The most significant portrayal of the Assumption is the mosaic in the Great Upper Church. Based on the painting by Titian, it was commissioned for the Basilica by Pope Pius XII. The enamel finish of the mosaic is left uneven and reflective, in contrast to its sister mosaic of the Immaculate Conception, which is smoothed to resemble a painting.
The Basilica Guidebook, Dr. Geraldine Rohling