Lizzie Scalia has an interestingly gynecological view…

Lizzie Scalia has an interestingly gynecological view… August 15, 2013

of the Assumption. It’s a perspective that I, who am significantly lacking in gynecological experiences, had never had occur to me. I’m not altogether sure I buy it as an argument for the Assumption (still noodling it), but it does throw some interesting light on one of the implications of the Incarnation that I flat never gave any thought to.

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  • I can’t speak to the biology, but if it were true, then I can certainly see the implications that the Anchoress is making vis-à-vis the Assumption. I think it is similar to the idea that leads us to such care in the purification of vessels at Mass; that even the slightest crumb or drop of the Eucharistic species are, in fact, Christ, and should be treated with the very same reverence as a whole host or full chalice. If Mary was host to a “crumb” of Christ at the end of her life, then it should not be disposed of.

    • JohnE_o

      The vessels that are used during Eucharist do not ascend into Heaven afterwards. Nor do the leftover crumbs of bread or drops of wine.

      • D.T. McCameron

        Nor does the Eucharist in our mouths or bellies or in the tabernacle.

        What’s your point?

      • First, I said “similar to the idea…” which is not the same as “exactly alike”.

        The similarity is that the vessels, while containing the body and blood of Christ (not bread and wine) are handled carefully and with great reverence. And whatever remains after the distribution of Communion is either consumed or transferred to other sacred vessels and transferred to the tabernacle, and the vessels purified. At no time are the Eucharistic species simply discarded.

        As it relates specifically to Elizabeth Scalia’s post, if Mary, as the vessel containing Christ, were to always contain Christ (which is the contention of the post), then it makes sense that Mary, and therefore Christ within her, would not simply be discarded. Taking her up to heaven in the Assumption is taking Mary as the vessel containing Christ, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the heavenly temple, the heavenly altar.

  • JohnE_o

    Well it is all just speculation anyway, isn’t it?

    • Lynn

      No, it’s not speculation. You can find cells with the children’s distinctive DNA in their mother’s bodies. It was somewhere close to my confirmation when I read this in an obstetrics article, and my first thought was, “Oh, so of course Mary would have to be assumed into Heaven!” This was years ago, and nobody who originally published this stuff made any connection with the Incarnation. I think it was all about stem cells back then.

      • JohnE_o

        Lynn, I’m talking about the bigger question about whether or the Assumption even happened in the first place.

        It is all just stories – did it happen? Who knows for sure?

        Not you and not me. We weren’t there.

        • Lynn

          True, but given the Church’s propensity to chop up saints in to a zillion pieces and carry them to different shrines and be really proud of it, I feel pretty convinced by the fact that nobody claims to have any bits of Mary anywhere.

  • capaxdei

    I’d say that a) the science of virgin gestation *is* speculation; b) we can stipulate that microchimerism applies to virgin gestation without it following that it occurred in the case of Mary and Jesus, or that cells from Jesus were still present in Mary’s body when she died; c) we can stipulate that fetal cells from Jesus were present in Mary’s body when she died without believing the cells in question were “particles of God”; c) implicit in the “particles of God” claim is the assertion that a person subsists in every cell that detaches from his body, which is neither a scientific nor a theological assertion but a philosophical one, and one that is not, to me, self-evidently true; d) whatever this idea may say about the necessity of the Assumption, it raises significant difficulties about the dogmas of the Resurrection and Ascension — e.g., did Jesus’ skin cells die, and if so were they resurrected, if microchimerical cells in Mary were part of Jesus’ body, wouldn’t they ascend with the rest of His body?; and e) I wasn’t there, and I didn’t take a sample of Mary’s blood just before she died, and even if I did I wouldn’t know what to do with it, so what do I know?

    • Rosemarie


      I thought about d) myself when I read it. Human beings are shedding dead cells, hair, etc. all the time. Since Jesus was like us in all ways except sin, I assume the same must have been true of Him.Maybe a distinction could exist between cells that die and fall off and cells that remained alive within His Mother, however.

      As for c), years ago I read the book The Precious Blood by Father Faber. IIRC, he said something to the effect that the bloodstains on relics of Our Lord’s Passion are no longer hypostatically united to God the Son. So I guess any fetal cells in her body would also no longer be hypostatically united to the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, though they were surely holy relics.

      • Lynn

        I’m going with the distinction between living and dead, not to mention that the fetal cells act like stem cells. They aren’t just alive, they’re busy. Maybe it’s because I look at this as a maternal/infant health specialist, rather than as a theologian. To me it’s magical and I’m happy for it to be that way.

  • Whether it’s a correct argument for the Assumption or not, I think Scalia’s idea is theologically brilliant.

  • Dan F.

    Also might explain what happened to the original Ark of the Covenant… 😉