Pope Pius XII proclaims, dogmatically and infallibly, the dogma of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary: that Mary was taken bodily up into heaven at the end of her life. This dogma is accepted by the Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox churches, Oriental Orthodox churches, and parts of the Anglican Church.
There are stories of Mary being taken physically up into heaven going back to the 4th century, so this is not a new belief for Christians. Some Christians believe that Mary died and then her body was taken into heaven, whereas others believe that she was taken into heaven just prior to dying.
Leaders of many Protestant churches criticize the declaration of this dogma, saying that there is no evidence for it to be found in the Bible and that it only serves to increase the gulf separating Catholic from Protestant Christianity.
Pope Pius XII tells a crowd of more than 700,000 people gathered outside St. Peter's Basilica:
"We are deeply moved by the proclamation of the dogma of the assumption of the body and soul of the Virgin Mary to heaven and we find it necessary to elevate a prayer of thanks to the Almighty.
To the present generation, deluded and troubled, there is opened today a portion of heaven, brilliant with the light of hope through Mary.
For a long time we have invoked this day which is ours and yours, especially because of the cry of centuries which spread from this sacred place, sacred to Christianity."
Pope Pius XII has at times been called the "Pope of Mary" because of his personal devotion to her.