Saint of the day:
Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Holy Day of Obligation
Public holiday in Italy (Ferragosto/Assumption Day)
The Story of the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary
On November 1, 1950, Pope Pius XII defined the Assumption of Mary to be a dogma of faith: “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 to heavenly glory.” The pope proclaimed this dogma only after a broad consultation of bishops, theologians and laity. There were few dissenting voices. What the pope solemnly declared was already a common belief in the Catholic Church.
We find homilies on the Assumption going back to the sixth century. In following centuries, the Eastern Churches held steadily to the doctrine, but some authors in the West were hesitant. However by the 13th century there was universal agreement. The feast was celebrated under various names–Commemoration, Dormition, Passing, Assumption–from at least the fifth or sixth century. Today it is celebrated as a solemnity.
Scripture does not give an account of Mary’s Assumption into heaven. Nevertheless, Revelation 12 speaks of a woman who is caught up in the battle between good and evil. Many see this woman as God’s people. Since Mary best embodies the people of both Old and New Testaments, her Assumption can be seen as an exemplification of the woman’s victory.
Furthermore, in 1 Corinthians 15:20, Paul speaks of Christ’s resurrection as the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.
Since Mary is closely associated with all the mysteries of Jesus’ life, it is not surprising that the Holy Spirit has led the Church to believe in Mary’s share in his glorification. So close was she to Jesus on earth, she must be with him body and soul in heaven.
House of Virgin Mary in Ephesus, Turkey
The Chêne chapelle (lit. "chapel oak") is an oak tree located in Allouville-Bellefosse in Seine-Maritime, France.
The oak tree is between 800 and 1,200 years old. It is 15 metres (49 ft) high and its base has a circumference of 16 metres (52 ft). Its hollow trunk hosts two chapels, which were built there in 1669 and are still used: Notre Dame de la Paix ("Our Lady of Peace") and the Chambre de l'Ermite ("Hermit's room"). A spiral staircase around the trunk provides access to the chapels.
When the tree was nearing 500 years of age, it was struck by lightning; the resulting fire burned slowly through the center and hollowed the tree out. The local Abbot Du Detroit and the village priest, Father Du Cerceau, claimed that the lighting striking and hollowing the tree was an event that had happened with holy purpose. So they built a place of pilgrimage devoted to the Virgin Mary in the hollow. In later years, the chapel above was added, as was the staircase.
During the French Revolution, the tree became an emblem of the old system of governance and tyranny as well as the church that aided and abetted it: a crowd descended upon the village, intent on burning the tree to the ground. However, a local whose name is lost renamed the oak the "Temple of Reason" and as such it became a symbol of the new ways of thinking and was spared.
Today, a number of measures are necessary in order to counter problems caused by the age of the tree: poles shore up the weight of some branches, and wooden shingles have been used to cover areas of the tree that have lost their bark; still, part of its trunk is already dead.
Twice a year, mass is celebrated in the oak. The oak is the site of a pilgrimage on August 15.
The rabska torta is a sweet typical of the beautiful Croatian island of Rab, located in the Kvarner sea in the northern Adriatic. It seems that in 1177 Pope Alexander III, crossing the Adriatic Sea with the ships that escorted him, due to a storm had found refuge in the Croatian islands.
On that occasion he consecrated the newly enlarged Cathedral of Rab, dedicating it to the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Assumption and in his honor the nuns of the Benedictine order wanted to create a sweet almond on a host that reminds the famous sweets of Siena (the Pope's hometown) .
The original recipe is kept in the archives of the Benedictine abbey of Sant'Andrea a Rab and among the ingredients indicates eggs and almonds.
According to this recipe, the secret is in the preparation of the filling that must be passed between the fingers up to six times, mixing the eggs (whose quantity depends on the dryness of the almonds) to the crushed almonds wrapping the whole with the aromas of orange and lemon peel and maraschino, while the pastry must be thin like a host.
Initially used for religious festivals and for weddings, baptisms and first communions, it is now one of the products that tourists prefer to buy as souvenirs and can have the characteristic shape of snail or in smaller sizes of heart, horseshoe or simply bar.
For the pastry
250 grams of 00 flour
25 grams of melted butter
2 whole eggs
1 TBSP of sugar
1/2 tsp of salt
For the stuffing
400 grams of almonds reduced to flour (Almond Flour)
360 grams of sugar
60 g of vanilla sugar
40 ml of maraschino liqueur
the grated zest of a lemon
the grated zest of an orange
6 whole peeled almonds
Start preparing the dough by mixing the flour with sugar and salt in a bowl.
Add the eggs and the melted butter and knead the dough on the top until you have a smooth and compact dough that wraps with the film and you will rest at least 1 hour in the refrigerator.
Now go to the preparation of the filling:
Mix the almond flour, the sugar, the vanilla sugar, the grated zest of lemon and orange, the eggs and the maraschino (or amaretto or orange liqueur), taking care to mix with your fingertips after each addition.
Take the dough (pasta), divide it into 2 parts, one of which is a little more abundant and rewind the other with the film to prevent it from drying out.
Roll out the most abundant dough with a rolling pin on a lightly floured surface until you obtain a very thin sheet, place it on baking paper and cut out a snail so that the strip has a width of 5 cm.
Arrange the filling:
In a snail shape made with stripes of dough arrange the dough on a lined sheet pan.
With the rest of the dough cut out strips of about 1.5 cm in height. Place the strip on the side of the stuffing and pinch it into folds, turning all around the snail, making a ruffle. With the tines of the fork, form lines on all the filling and last placed 3 almonds on the head and 3 on the end of the snail.
Bake in preheated oven at 350 degrees for 35 minutes, until the filling has a beautiful golden color.
Sprinkle with powder sugar once the cake has cooled.
Did you know this style of almond cake is typical of Sicilian pastry? The ingredients and the taste are the same as the filling of this dessert, while the packaging with the thin strips of pasta that form a ruche is very reminiscent of Sardinian sweets.
It is certainly not a dessert to be served at the end of a meal, but to be offered in slices of 3 cm to accompany a tea or a glass of liqueur or grappa.
This centerpiece needs a moment to shine alone and to be tasted in all its sumptuous flavors.