While Indians celebrate the Independence Day on August 15, Roman Catholics all over the country celebrate it as the day of the “Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary” or Virgin Mary being taken up into heaven, both body and soul.
August 15 is celebrated as Assumption Day in churches, parishes by Roman Catholics all over the world. It is a public holiday in many countries, including Austria, Belgium, Cameroon, France, Italy, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Paraguay, Malta, Poland, Portugal, and Spain.
Talking to the Hindustan Times, President of Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), Cardinal Telesphore Toppo said, “This is a double celebration for us. It is on this day that India got its Independence and we are grateful to God. We believe God is the Lord of History and it is He who combined these two events.”
“We Christians believe that Mother of Jesus was free from sin and that death is the fruit of sin.She was sinless,Immaculate and therefore rightfully taken into Heaven and that Feast we celebrate on Independence Day. She is already there where we all must go someday.”
“On Aug 15, we hoist the flag outside Churches and also place the flag on the altar and pray for our country ,our motherland.”
For the first time in 60 years,he said, we have a woman president that is something to be proud of for women’s dignity and women’s liberation. We take it as part of our celebrations of Assumption of Blessed Virgin Mary, he added.
Archibishop of Delhi Vincent M Concessao said, “We are happy about the coincidence of our Independence Day with Feast of Assumption of Our Lady. While the first one is symbolic of political liberation though in the mind of Mahatma Gandhi it was much more than that. The second one is complete liberation from anything that binds us.”
Spokesperson of Delhi Archdiocese Father Dominic Emmanuel said , “Since 1947 onwards Indian Church became doubly happy as Aug 15 became the Independence day and in its liturgy, prayers and hymns for the Day a special thanksgiving prayer for the Independence of India was also included.
“On this day we hold the Solemn High Mass with more singing, specific prayers for the occasion and special hymns. Church is better with flowers and flags” he added.
"The tradition of Assumption Day dates back to the fifth and sixth century.”
Father Dominic Emmanuel said Pope Pius XII in Apostolic Constitution of 1950 set forth the Dogma on Virgin Mary “that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory."
“Virgin Mary enjoys a special status in the history of Salvation. She was chosen to be the mother of God and conceived Jesus without sin not by natural means but power of the Holy Ghost,” Father Dominic Emmanuel said.
Known as ‘Mediatrix” or mediator between God and Man she plays a special role of interceding with Jesus or God on behalf of human beings, Father Emmanuel added.