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Caitlin Kennell Kim Answers:
Have you ever seen the movie Cast Away? When Tom Hanks’ character finally escapes the deserted island and is on a plane travelling home, he discovers that his friends and family — sure after so many years that he must have died at sea — have held his funeral and buried an empty casket to say goodbye to him. It’s kind of the same with the Tomb of the Blessed Virgin in Jerusalem. It’s a symbol of Our Lady’s passing from earthly life to heavenly life. We can visit it to show our gratitude for her life and our joy for her Assumption. No one is buried there. Orthodox Christians believe that Mary died (or “fell asleep”) and was assumed into heaven on the third day. They venerate the tomb in Jerusalem as the place where she was buried before being assumed into heaven. The Catholic Church has no definitive teaching on whether she actually died first or if she was assumed without suffering death. Either way, the tomb is empty. Alleluia!