Mary’s Assumption into Heaven was a "giant leap for mankind": Pope Francis

Pope Francis offers Mass in Gyumri, Armenia June 25, 2016. Credit: Vatican Media/CNA.

On the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Pope Francis said that Mary’s assumption into Heaven was an infinitely greater achievement than man’s first steps on the moon.

“When man set foot on the moon, he said a phrase that became famous: ‘That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.’ In essence, humanity had reached a historic milestone. But today, in Mary’s Assumption into Heaven, we celebrate an infinitely greater achievement. Our Lady set foot in Heaven,” Pope Francis said Aug. 15.

“This step of the little Virgin of Nazareth was the giant leap forward of mankind,” the pope added.

Speaking from the window of the Vatican’s apostolic palace to the pilgrims spread out throughout St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis said that in Mary’s assumption into Heaven, one sees life’s end goal: “not to gain the things here below, which are fleeting, but the patrimony above, which is forever.”

Catholics around the world celebrate the Feast of the Assumption of Mary on Aug. 15. The feast commemorates the end of Mary’s earthly life when God assumed her, body and soul, into heaven.

“Our Lady set foot in Heaven: she went there not only in spirit, but with her body as well, with all of herself,” he said. “That one of us dwells in the flesh in Heaven gives us hope: we understand that we are precious, destined to rise again. God does not allow our bodies to vanish into nothing. With God, nothing is lost.”

The life of the Virgin Mary is an example of how “the Lord works wonders with the little ones,” the pope explained.

God works through “those who do not believe themselves great but who give great space to God in life. He enlarges His mercy in those who trust in Him, and raises up the humble. Mary praises God for this,” he said.

Pope Francis encouraged Catholics to visit a Marian shrine on the feast day, recommending people in Rome to visit the Basilica of St. Mary Major to pray before the icon of Salus Populi Romani, Mary Protection of the Roman People.

He said that the Virgin Mary’s witness is a reminder to praise God each day, as the Mother of God did in her Magnificat prayer in which she exclaimed: “My soul glorifies the Lord.”

“We might ask ourselves,” he said. “‘Do we remember to praise God? Do we thank Him for the great things He does for us, for every day that He gives us because He always loves us and forgives us?’”

“How often, instead, we let ourselves be overwhelmed by difficulties and absorbed by fears,” he said. “Our Lady does not, because she puts God as the first greatness of life.”

“If, like Mary, we remember the great things that the Lord does, if at least once a day we ‘magnify’, we glorify Him, then we take a great step forward ... our hearts will expand,  joy will increase,” Pope Francis said.

The pope wished a happy Feast of the Assumption to everyone, especially the sick, essential workers, and all those who are alone.

“Let us ask Our Lady, the Gate of Heaven, for the grace to begin each day by raising our gaze to Heaven, to God, to say to Him: ‘Thank you!’” he said.


ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.

Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa
[email protected]