The Church in South Walsham is dedicated to Mary, the mother of Christ. Stories of Mary’s life told in the Apocrypha give more detail about her than the Gospels and these stories have helped inspire art and Christian devotion to Mary over the centuries. The apocryphal Gospel of James, written around 150 AD, tells of Mary as a delightful child loved by her father and mother Joachim and Ann and received and blessed by the priests of the temple. As a little girl, she is said to have “received food from the hand of an angel”. The stories go on to describe Mary's marriage to Joseph, an old widower with his own children. Mary and Joseph raised the young man Jesus and prepared him for ministry. Mary stood by him throughout his life and death. After Christ’s death, Mary went to Ephesus under the protection of St John, although another Christian tradition says that she lived the rest of her life in Jerusalem. Stories that may date from the 5th century recount Mary's death. Christ is said to have appeared to Mary in a house on Mount Zion and told her that she was to die soon. The apostles travelled from all parts of the world to bid her farewell. Instructed by Jesus, Peter and the other apostles took her body to a new tomb near Gethsemane, where miracles of healing accompanied her burial. Three days later, angels took her body to heaven. That Mary’s body was ‘assumed’ into heaven is one of the oldest traditions of the Catholic Church.
The Feast of the Assumption, celebrated on August 15th is a reminder of the faith and obedience of Mary who is the patron saint of mothers, nuns and virgins.