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MAIN Arrow to Home LifeHome Life Arrow to HolidaysHolidays & Observances Arrow to Feast of the Assumption Feast of the Immaculate Conception

Assunta, by Titian
Renaissance paintings of the Immaculate
Conception, as shown here by Bartolomé
Esteban Murillo, usually depict Mary as
a young virgin, without original sin, as
befitting the mother of Jesus Christ.

The Feast of the Immaculate Conception is celebrated every year on December 8.

It is designated a holy day of obligation when all Roman Catholics are required to attend mass.

This year, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception is observed on Wednesday, December 8, 2021.

Immaculate Conception and church history

The idea that Mary was born without original sin dates back to the early church, when Mary was celebrated during what was simply known as the Feast of the Conception.

However, the wavering doctrine would later become a flash point in the Middle Ages, when religious thinkers of the day argued that the singular exemption -- of being born without original sin -- could only apply to Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

As the veneration of Mary grew, however, the church teaching slowly gained widespread acceptance. By the 19th century, It was Pius IX finally who finally declared in "Ineffabilis Deus" that the Immaculate Conception was Catholic dogma and was to be firmly believed in as such.

Assunta, by Titian
Stained glass depiction of Mary at the grotto
in Lourdes: "I am the Immaculate Conception."

The Papal encyclical was dated December 8, 1854. "The most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instant of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the saviour of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin."

A few years later, it was Bernadette of Lourdes who helped further define the doctrine when Mary was said to have miraculously appeared before her in 1858. When Bernadette asked the lady her name, Our Lady of Lourdes replied, "I am the Immaculate Conception."

The statement immediately caused controversy as the poor peasant girl was first cross-examined by local police, and then by papal authorities. But throughout her ordeal, she never wavered in her account. By 1933, the church declared Bernadette a saint.

also see in Holidays & Observances -> Feast of the Assumption

Immaculate Conception -- and a modern misconception

Today, it is interesting to note that "Immaculate Conception" is sometimes confused with another teaching held by the church -- that of Mary conceiving her son Jesus not through sex, but solely through the power of the Holy Spirit. This doctrine, however, is more accurately known as the Virgin Birth based on the narratives found in the Gospel accounts of Matthew 1:18-25 and Luke 1:26-38.

The Immaculate Conception more accurately refers to the conception of Mary in the womb of her own mother, St. Anne, who provided a "fit habitation" for the woman who was destined to become the mother of Christ and the new Eve.

How the Feast of the Immaculate Conception is celebrated around the world

Purisima en León
In Nicaragua, colorful processions and
fireworks mark the eve of Feast of the
Immaculate Conception on December 7.

Around the world, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception is observed with a mixture of celebration and solemnity.

In Panama, the feast day always coincides with the observance of Mother's Day, while In Nicaragua the day is celebrated with local parades and religious processions.

Every year, the Philippines observes December 8th as a national holiday in honor of the Virgin Mary as patroness of the country. In Monaco, grandmothers and mothers are honored with food and family festivities.

In Italy, the Pope traditionally visits the Column of the Immaculate Conception in Piazza di Spagna to offer prayers and a spray of roses at the statue's base. The day also signals the official start of the Italian Christmas season.

More about the Feast of the Immaculate Conception around the Web:

Immaculate Conception
- Find a clear concise definition of the Roman Catholic doctrine including illustrations and related references from

Immaculate Conception - Here's more from the Catholic Encyclopedia with detailed information on the Catholic dogma including scriptural references, related controversies, and eventual acceptance in Church doctrine.

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