IMMACULATE CONCEPTION of the BLESSED VIRGIN MARY – Patroness of the United States, Argentina, Brazil, Guam, Nicaragua, Portugal, Tunisia, and many more too numerous to list
Today, the universal Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the solemn dogma defined by Blessed Pope Pius IX in 1854, and is ordinarily recognized within the Catholic Church as a Holy Day of Obligation, except for the exceptional circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic this year.
The sinlessness of Christ’s Mother had been recognized from the beginning of Christianity, but was little dwelled upon except in the writings of the Greek and Latin Fathers when they described her perfect holiness, for they spoke of her as “holy, innocent, most pure, inviolate, undefiled, immaculate” – in a way which left no doubt that they considered her absolutely without sin!
Throughout the course of Church history, Mary has always been held in the highest esteem. But it was not until the seventh century when a feast called the Conception of Mary arose in the Eastern Church, and it came to the West in the eighth century. Some three hundred years later, it received its present name, the Immaculate Conception. And finally, in the eighteenth century it became a Feast of the universal Church.
On December 8, 1854, Blessed Pope Pius IX’s solemn declaration, titled “Ineffabilis Deus”, clarified with finality the long-held belief of the Church that Mary was conceived free from Original Sin – and ultimately became a doctrine of the Church which all Catholics are obliged to believe, and its celebration was elevated to the rank of Solemnity.
Mary was granted this extraordinary privilege because of her unique role in history as the Mother of God – that is, she received the gift of salvation, the foreseen merits of her Divine Son, as a Singular grace accorded her by our Heavenly Father from the very moment of her conception.
“O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you.”
We celebrate the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception on December 8.
(From catholicnewsagency.com, saints.sqpn.com, americancatholic.org, catholicculture.org and newadvent.org)
(The following prayer is from the Roman Breviary from the Proper for the Immaculate Conception)
“Father, You prepared the Virgin Mary to be the worthy Mother of Your Son. You let her share beforehand in the salvation which Christ would bring by His death, and kept her sinless from the first moment of her conception. Help us by her prayers to live in Your Presence without sin.
“We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”