Defense Date


Graduation Date

Spring 5-7-2021


One-year Embargo

Submission Type


Degree Name





McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts

Committee Chair

Kenneth L. Parker

Committee Member

William M. Wright IV

Committee Member

Ryan J. Marr


Assumption of Mary, Assumptionist Movement, Catholic, Theology, Vatican II, Development of Doctrine


The Assumptionist movement (1863–1950) was a theological movement within the Roman Catholic Church that worked to obtain a dogmatic definition for the Assumption of Mary. This study employs a form of reception theory to argue for the doctrinal continuity between the Assumptionist movement and Vatican II. The first chapter examines the Assumptionist movement’s overlooked history. It uncovers two major characteristics of the movement. First, it was a global movement. Support for the Assumption dogma emerged from every populated continent. Second, it was a movement that involved every rank in the Church. The laity, priests, religious, and bishops worked together towards a common mission. Notably, the laity’s activity and vocal support challenge assumptions about the passivity of the laity in the pre-conciliar Church. The second chapter analyzes theological arguments on the definability of the Assumption published at the height of the movement (1946–1950). This reveals the diverse methodologies Catholic theologians used to explain the phenomenon of doctrinal development. The third chapter analyzes Catholic biblical scholarship on the Assumption at the height of the movement. These scholars interpreted Scripture in light of tradition to discern the Assumption in revelation. The fourth chapter recalls the role of the laity in the Assumptionist movement and examines the limited theological reflection that affirmed the laity’s active role in the development of doctrine. The gifts of the Holy Spirit made it possible for all the faithful to deepen their understanding of supernatural truth. This included intuiting details that had remained obscure in official teaching. The fifth chapter examines the teachings of Vatican II on the laity and revelation. It argues that material continuity exists between the Council’s formal teachings and the theological principles operative in the Assumptionist movement. Understood as loci of reception, doctrinal continuity between the two theological events suggests continuity in horizons of reception. What the Council solemnly taught was already present in the life and theology of the Assumptionist movement. In this way, the Assumptionist movement was a precursor to Vatican II.



Available for download on Saturday, May 07, 2022