The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception

Today is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, Patroness of the United States and Patroness of the Diocese of Lansing. Happy feast day!

“This beautiful feast day is a great reminder that the more our lives are free from the entanglement of sin, the more we allow ourselves to be filled with the grace of God, the more we can respond to the great calling the Almighty has for each of us,” said Craig Pohl, Director of New Evangelization for the Diocese of Lansing, 9 December.

The term “Immaculate Conception” refers to the conception of the Virgin Mary free from original sin by virtue of the merits of her son Jesus Christ. The Catholic Church teaches that God acted upon Mary in the first moment of her conception, thus keeping her “immaculate”.

Although the belief that Mary was sinless, or conceived without original sin, has been widely held since Late Antiquity, the doctrine was not dogmatically defined in the Catholic Church until 1854 when Blessed Pope Pius IX, declared ex cathedra, i.e., using papal infallibility, in his papal bull Ineffabilis Deus, the Immaculate Conception to be doctrine.

The Church normally celebrates the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception on December 8 but this year the feast was transferred due to it falling upon the Second Sunday of Advent, which takes precedence.

The bishops of the United States bishops unanimously chose the Virgin Mary, conceived without sin, as patroness of the country, on 13 May 1846. She also became patroness of the Diocese of Lansing upon its creation in 1937.

O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!