The Story Behind the Fast and the Feast
Our Mother St. Mary, having lived in this world for sixty four years, had to depart to the heaven as was the case for her only and beloved Son, the Lord Christ. While she was keeping vigil, praying in the Holy Sepulchre, and waiting for the happy minute of her liberation from the bonds of the flesh, the Holy Spirit informed her of her forthcoming departure from this vain world. When the time drew near, the disciples and the virgins of the Mt. of Olives came and the Lady was lying on her bed. Our Lord, surrounded by thousands and thousands of angels, came to Her. He consoled her, and announced her with the everlasting joy which was prepared for Her. She was happy, and she stretched out her hands, blessed the Disciples, and the Virgins. Then, On 29th January /Tri 21, 049 G.C./ she delivered up Her pure soul in the hand of Her Son and God, Jesus Christ, Who ascended Her Soul to the higher habitations.
Our Mother had to die to testify the impartial judgment of her son. St.Yared the Melodist was astounded by what happened to Her and has this to say- “Let you see to yourself that He is impartial in His judgment, when He makes His Mother-the Mother of the faithful-taste death, this, He ordered in His Just word. Though Human beings are destined mortals, she had to pass through it to the fulfillment of the prophecy. Songs 2:10-14.
As of the pure body, the apostles and the virgins shrouded it and carried it to Gethsemane. On their way, some of the Jews blocked the way in the face of the disciples to prevent the burial. The Jews wanted to snatch her body and burn it to ash for fear it will bring another news of Ascension. One of the Jews, called Tawphanias, seized the coffin. His hands were separated from his body, and remained hanging until he believed and repented for his mischievous deed. Yet the Jews were persistent, so God sent His angel and took away His mother’s body in glory to the Heaven. This was a concern for all the apostles who didn't know the where about of her body.
After her death the Apostles continued to be sad and sorrowful, because of her separation from them, and because they were left orphans by her; for our Lord had given them the hope that they would see her in the flesh.
And they decided to fast and pray. Their commitment borne fruit and after two week – on the 14th of August (Geez Calandar), the Angels brought her body and offered it to them. Happily, the apostles entered/rested it in the tomb prepared at the resting place of Her pure body. On the third day, she was resurrected and ascended to heaven.
Still, there was another apostle who was not around when all these breathtaking incidents happened – st. Thomas . He was preaching the Gospel in India. As he was going back to Jerusalem, carried on by swift clouds, he meets her while she was ascending to the garden of Delight. He was disconsolate, saying “I wasn't chosen to witness your Son's ascension in Glory, nor was I worthy enough to witness yours. How sinful I am!” The mother of God, St Mary, told him that he was the first to see her ascending. She gave him the garment (seben) with which her rested body was covered as a token of that. This filled him in ecstasy. When he arrived in Jerusalem , he asked the apostles about the Mother of God, as if he knew nothing. They told him that, in his absence she had passed away, and they had buried her in the tomb.
He told them, "I will not believe, unless I see her body, as you all know how I did doubt the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ before." They took him to the tomb, to uncover the body but they did not find it, and they were perplexed and amazed. St. Thomas told them that he saw the pure body ascending to heaven, carried by angels. He also showed them the garment in his hand. They were so happy. They portioned it among themselves and they used to make miracles like healing the sick, resurrecting the dead and many more.
The Holy Spirit then told them, "The Lord did not Will to leave Her Holy body on earth."
Even if what they got from St. Thomas was a conclusive proof of Her resurrection and ascension, the apostles still wanted to get firsthand experience of it.