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, oriental orthodox and Anglicans, that the virgin Mary, at the end of her life, was physically taken up into heaven. This is considered her heavenly birthday. Her acceptance into the glory of Heaven is seen by many Christians as the symbol of the promise made by Jesus to all enduring Christians that they too will be received into heaven. The Assumption of Mary, in the churches that observe it, is a major festival commonly celebrated on August 15. It is considered a public holiday in many countries. History The assumed taking of Mary into Heaven became an established teaching across Eastern, Western, Coptic and Oriental churches from at least the late 7th Century, the festival date settling at August 15. Before the Roman Catholic Church came into existence, however, the date of August 15 was celebrated in the Roman Empire to honor the gods, in particular Diana, and the cycle of fertility and ripening. In fact, the present Italian name of the holiday, “Ferragosto”, derives from its original Latin name, Feriae Augusti (“Holidays of the Emperor Augustus”) and even the entire month took its name from the emperor. Catholic Teaching On November 1, 1950, Pope Pius XII solemnly declared: “By the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own authority, we pronounce, declare, and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma: 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.” This left open the question of whether Mary died before the Assumption. Places it is Celebrated The Feast of the Assumption on August 15 is a Public Holiday in many countries, including Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chile, Republic of Congo, Cote d'Ivoire, Croatia, Colombia, Cyprus, East Timor, France, Gabon, Greece, Republic of Guinea, Haiti, Italy, Lebanon, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Madagascar, Malta, Mauritius, Monaco, Paraguay, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Rwanda, Senegal, Seychelles, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Tahiti, Togo, and Vanuatu. It is also a holiday in some predominantly Catholic states of Germany, including Bavaria and Saarland. In Guatemala it is observed in Guatemala City and in the town of Santa Maria Nebaj, both of which claim her as their patron saint.