August 15th is the Feast Day of The Assumption of the Virgin Mary. It is a day which celebrates Mary being assumed body and soul into Heaven at the end of her life.
Based on very early church writings and on the writings of mystics, such as Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich, it is believed that the apostles traveled to be with Mary at her deathbed; some of them even transported on white clouds from the towns they had been preaching. St. Thomas was not present for Mary’s death. Upon Thomas’ arrival, Mary’s tomb was reopened. It was found empty except for her grave cloths. Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich describes Mary’s assumption in great detail. She saw Mary’s soul lifted up to heaven in a bright light where it was met by her Son, Jesus. Her soul then follows her Son back to her tomb where it is joined with her transfigured body. She then ascends body and soul with her Son to the heavenly Jerusalem.
Catholics believe Mary’s assumption was a Divine Gift for her role as the Mother of God. By her example of following God’s Will and living a life without sin, we are shown a promise of the gift that is waiting for all of us on that last day.
Our Lady of the Assumption holds a special place in my heart, since she is the patron saint of all Acadians. August 15th is National Acadian Day and has been celebrated since 1881. In Canada it is known as the Fete Nationale. Businesses close on this day in parts of New Brunswick, Canada.
There was much debate in Canada over the date on which to have a National Day to recognize the Acadians. Abbot Marcel-Francois Richard influenced the decision for August 15th with his eloquent speech: “…in fact it seems to me that a people who, for over a century of hardships and persecutions, was able to preserve its religion, language, customs, and autonomy, must have acquired enough importance to affirm its existence in a solemn way; and this could not be accomplished better than by being able to celebrate its own national holiday…It is important to stress that we are not descendants of Canada, but of France…We must choose a holiday that reminds us of our origin…Louis XIII vowed to give his empire to the Blessed Virgin and he wanted the Assumption to be the kingdom’s national holiday…he sent colonist to take over Acadia…it is true that the national devotion of the Acadians is their devotion to Mary.” Thus, the convention chose August 15th, Feast of the Assumption, as the national holiday of the Acadians. It was ratified by the Vatican on January 19, 1938 and Saint Pope John Paul the Great proclaimed Our Lady of the Assumption to be the patron saint of Acadians, where ever they may live.
An Acadian flag was established at the 2nd Acadian Convention in 1884 at Prince Edward Island. It is a French Flag, tricolor – blue, white, and red. There is a gold star at the top left. The star represents the Virgin Mary, their patron saint.
A “Cajun” Acadian flag was designed at the University of Southwestern Louisiana in 1965 in honor of the 200th anniversary of the arrival of the Acadians in Louisiana. The tricolor flag has three symbols. The first is a gold castle on the red, which represents the Spanish kingdom who allowed the Acadians to settle in the area. The silver fleur-de-lis on the blue, represents the French heritage. The gold star on the white represents the Virgin Mary. The flag became the official “Cajun” flag for the Acadiana area in 1974.
Cajun people’s love for Mary is very evident as you drive around Cajun Country. Statues of our heavenly mother are proudly displayed in front of many homes, churches and public places. She is the new Eve, the “woman clothed in the sun”, and the new Ark of the Covenant. We love our patron saint!
Happy Feast Day Mother Mary!