ON May 1, 1946, Pius XII addressed the encyclical letter Deiparae Virginis Mariae to the bishops of the whole world, asking them to express as promptly as possible what they, together with their clergy and faithful, thought both of defining the Assumption and of the opportuneness of proclaiming it as a dogma of faith. In so acting, Pius XII followed the precedent set by Pius IX when he wrote the encyclical letter Ubi Primum in 1849, before the definition of the Immaculate Conception.
AS THE FAITHFUL call upon the Virgin Mary, Mother of God, and obtain her constant help, so they endeavor to venerate her always more and more. Now, it is proper to true and deep love that it keeps seeking ways to give new signs of affection. Thus the faithful have endeavored throughout the centuries to show and increase this love by an ever growing devotion. We are persuaded that this is why Cardinals, Archbishops, and Bishops, priests, religious, sodalists, and university students, a whole multitude of the faithful, have addressed pleas to the Holy See for many years; those received between 1848 and 1940 have recently been gathered into two volumes, edited with commentary and published. These pleas ask for the proclamation and solemn definition of the Assumption into heaven of the Virgin Mary with her body as a dogma of faith. Surely everyone knows that nearly 200 Bishops of the Vatican Council expressed the same desire with great insistence.
As for us, who have been chosen to guard and extend the kingdom of Christ, we have the duty to combat what is harmful and promote what is useful. Thus, since the beginning of our Pontificate, the question we had to set before ourselves and study is whether it is allowable, opportune, and useful that we use our power to follow up the pleas we mentioned. For this reason we have not omitted, nor do we now omit, to pray with fervor that God may inspire us and make us know His most adorable will.
Unite your prayers to ours, venerable brethren, to obtain this heavenly light. In exhorting you with fatherly care to do so, we are following the example of our predecessors, and especially of Pius IX regarding the definition of the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God; and in asking of your good will that you communicate to us the feeling of the clergy and the faithful committed to your care with respect to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, we desire most ardently to know if you, venerable brethren, in your great wisdom and prudence, think that the corporal Assumption of the holy Virgin can be proposed and defined as a dogma of faith, and if you together with your clergy and people desire it.
While awaiting your responses and -- the sooner they reach us the more grateful we will be-we ask for you, venerable brethren, and for yours, the grace of God, and the favor of the generous and august Virgin.
Pope Pius XII