Every August, as our celebration of the Assumption of Mary approaches, readers ask the same question: Did Mary die before she was assumed into Heaven?
In my discussions of the Assumption here on the About.com Catholicism GuideSite, I have often stated that "The Assumption reflects the honor that Christ accorded to His Mother, an honor so great that He did not allow her body to suffer decay after her death." In response, one reader has accused me of spouting heresy!
Nothing could be further from the truth. While Pope Pius XII did not directly address the question of Mary's death in his definition of the dogma of the Assumption of Mary, the document in which he defined the dogma (Munificentissimus Deus) relies heavily on the tradition, found in both the East and the West, that Mary died before she was assumed into Heaven.
For more information on that universal tradition, see Did the Virgin Mary Die Before Her Assumption?