The belief that the BVM, ‘having completed her earthly life, was in body and soul assumed into heavenly glory’ (definition, 1950). The belief was unknown in the early Church; it first appears in certain NT apocrypha dating from the 4th cent. The doctrine was formulated in orthodox circles in the W. by Gregory of Tours (d. 594); it seems to have been widely known by the end of the 7th cent. and it was defended by various Schoolmen. In 1950 Pius XII defined it. In the E. Church belief in the corporal assumption is general, though in less precise terms than those of the RC definition.
The date on which the feast of the Assumption is celebrated (15 Aug.) is probably connected with the dedication of some church to the BVM. In the C of E the feast disappeared from the BCP in 1549, but it is now observed in many places. In parts of the Anglican Communion 15 Aug. is kept as the main feast of the BVM, though without reference to the Assumption.