Immaculate Conception


Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Wikipedia.

Immaculate Conception

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

For centuries Roman Catholic theologians pondered the question of how a normal human being, Mary, could give birth to a perfect human being, Jesus, who was born without sin, outside the restrictions of the "original sin" passed on from Adam and Eve to their progeny.

Finally, in 1854, the problem was solved. As with most religious pronouncements, there is a story behind the story.

Pope Pius IX served longer than any other pope in history, but it was during a time when the papacy was losing power. The political situation was such that he even had to leave Rome, unable to return until the French intervened. But Pius was determined to confirm the power of the office. Thus it was that in 1854 he issued the bull Ineffabilis Deus. It was the first time in history a pope said he was infallible and didn't need a council's approval if he spoke ex cathedra ("from the chair"). In the words of the first Vatican Council (see Vatican Councils), defining the conditions under which the pope is infallible:

The Roman pontiff, when he speaks ex cathedra, that is, when in discharge of the office of pastor and doctor of all Christians, by virtue of his supreme Apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine regarding faith or morals to be held by the universal Church, by the divine assistance promised to him in blessed Peter, is possessed of that divine infallibility with which the divine Redeemer willed that his Church should be endowed for defining doctrine regarding faith or morals; and therefore such definitions are irreformable of themselves, and not from the consent of the Church.

Then he sat back to await developments. And nothing really happened. There was no great clamor from either pew or pulpit, so the doctrine of papal infallibility was determined.

The test case, so to speak, was the determination that Mary was born free from all taint of sin, including original sin. By virtue of the fact that she was chosen to be the mother of the Savior, the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of Mary became official Church dogma. It was based on the idea that a person becomes truly conceived when a soul is created and fused with the body. In anticipation of what Mary was going to do when she conceived Jesus, she was, in effect, sanctified at the moment of her own conception. The original state of innocence did not free her from the consequences of sorrow, pain, and illness, but it did mean that she was sinless.

References in periodicals archive ?
Immaculate Conception, home to about 700 families, is the first parish in the Diocese of Richmond, Virginia to go solar, and is among the latest religious communities nationwide to examine ways to limit their carbon footprint.
Anthony of Padua (1195-1231) supported the Immaculate Conception in his Mariological Sermons and members of the Franciscan followed his passion even after his death.
8 a special non-working holiday to commemorate the feast of the Immaculate Conception.
Where is it celebrated? It is believed that the Feast of the Immaculate Conception was first celebrated in Syria as early as the fifth century.
Surprisingly absent from the volume's discussion of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception is the breakthrough theological contribution of Duns Scotus.
The quest for a way of representing the Immaculate Conception in art began when the doctrine became the subject of heated theological controversy from the 12th century.
8, the feast of the Immaculate Conception, and lasts until Jan.
All this, plus a version of the Immaculate Conception worthy of Luis Bunuel.
Four works referencing Spanish Baroque masterpieces depicting the Immaculate Conception (by Velazquez, Zurbaran, Murillo and Juan de Valdes Leal) recapitulate their source images via a formal vocabulary drawn from microscopic processes of asexual reproduction, three derived from Rhodomicrobium vannielii (erroneously referred to as "vannillie" in all the titles), the other from yeast.
JUST BEFORE DAWN on July 14, 1981, Detroit police hooked a tow truck to the basement door of the Immaculate Conception Church on Trombly Street and tore it off its hinges.
More difficult are the theological and biological gaffes: in spite of being a good Catholic, Annie associates the Immaculate Conception with Jesus' physical birth, rather than with the state of Mary's lack of original sin; Annie and Kevin's baby is walking and eating solid foods by the time she's six months old without these feats seeming remarkable to any onlooker.