Feast of the Immaculate Conception 2022: History, Significance and Celebrations

Feast of the Immaculate Conception is annually celebrated on 8th December. This is a day when Catholics across the world mark the conception of the Virgin Mary, and look to her as an example of a sinless person. 

It is also called as the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception and it is celebrated nine months before the feast of the Nativity of Mary, celebrated on September 8. It is one of the most important Marian feasts in the liturgical calendar of the Roman Catholic Church celebrated worldwide. 

The Immaculate Conception is the belief that the Virgin Mary was free of original sin from the moment of her conception. First debated by medieval theologians, it proved so controversial that it did not become part of official Catholic teaching until 1854, when Pius IX gave it the status of dogma in the papal bull Ineffabilis Deus. 

Event Feast of the Immaculate Conception
Date December 8, 2022
Day Thursday
Significance This is a day when Catholics across the world mark the conception of the Virgin Mary.
Observed by World wide

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Feast of the Immaculate Conception History: 

The dogma of the Immaculate Conception asserts that, “from the first moment of her conception, the Blessed Virgin Mary was, by the singular grace and privilege of Almighty God, and in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of Mankind, kept free from all stain of original sin.” The Eastern Christian Church first celebrated a “Feast of the Conception of the Most Holy and All Pure Mother of God” on December 9, perhaps as early as the 5th century in Syria. The original title of the feast focused more specifically on Saint Anne, being termed “Sylepsis tes hagias kai theoprometoros Annas” (“conception of Saint Anne, the Ancestress of God”). 

By the 7th century, the feast was already widely known in the East. However, when the Eastern Church called Mary “Achrantos” (‘spotless, immaculate’), this was not defined doctrine. However, the majority of Orthodox Christians do not accept the Scholastic definition of Mary’s preservation from original sin before her birth as subsequently defined in the Western Church after the Great Schism of 1054. After the feast was translated to the Western Church in the 8th century, it began to be celebrated on December 8. It spread from the Byzantine area of Southern Italy to Normandy during the period of Norman dominance over southern Italy. From there it spread to England, France, Germany, and eventually Rome.   

In 1568, Pope Pius V revised the Roman Breviary, and though the Franciscans were allowed to retain the Office and Mass written by Bernardine dei Busti, this office was suppressed for the rest of the Church, and the office of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin was substituted instead, the word “Conception” being substituted for “Nativity”. According to the Papal Bull Commissi Nobis Divinitus, dated 6 December 1708, Pope Clement XI mandated the feast as a Holy Day of Obligation which is to be celebrated in future years by the faithful. Furthermore, the pontiff requested that the papal bull be notarized in the Holy See to be further copied and reproduced for dissemination.

The first move towards describing Mary’s conception as “immaculate” came in the 11th century. In the 15th century, Pope Sixtus IV, while promoting the festival, explicitly tolerated both the views of those who promoted it as the Immaculate Conception and those who challenged such a description, a position later endorsed by the Council of Trent. Prior to Pope Pius IX’s definition of the Immaculate Conception as a Roman Catholic dogma in 1854, most missals referred to it as the Feast of the Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The festal texts of this period focused more on the action of her conception than on the theological question of her preservation from original sin. The feast was first declared a Holy Day of Obligation on December 6, 1708, by Pope Clement XI in the Papal Bull Commissi Nobis Divinitus. 

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Feast of the Immaculate Conception Significance: 

Given its name, some might naturally assume the Feast of the Immaculate Conception refers to Jesus conception. However, it actually refers to the conception of Mary herself, a fact that becomes more obvious when you consider the fact that the feast comes just 17 days before Christmas. The Catholic Church teaches that Mary was given redemption by God from the moment of her conception. Not only was she therefore free from original sin, but she was also protected from personal sin- as befitting her role as the mother of Jesus. Because of the significance of this event, December 8 is therefore considered a Holy Day of Obligation, when Catholics are required to go to Mass.

According to a pontifical decree, it is the patronal festival day of Argentina, Italy, Brazil, Nicaragua, South Korea, Paraguay, Spain, the United States, the Philippines, and Uruguay. The Immaculate Conception is the patroness of Portugal’s day by royal decree. The Roman Catholic Church and a few Protestant Christian denominations observe this day. Since 1953, each Pope has paid a visit to the Piazza di Spagna’s Column of the Immaculate Conception every year to offer prayers of penance to honor the solemn event. Thus today it is a widely celebrated Christian feast in our world. 

The events celebrated by the feast have been subject of quite some controversy over the centuries, as theologians have argued on one side that Mary could only have been sinless if she was exempt from original sin, whereas others have stated that she could only have been redeemed if she was subject to original sin. Since the fifteenth century, though, the former argument has been the official doctrine of the Western Catholic Church, and the feast day has been marked by millions of Catholics across the world and continues today as a large celebrations by the Catholics. 

As we remember christ’s mother, the feast of the immaculate conception evokes memories of affection and security. the feast itself commemorates saint anne and saint joachim, the parents of the holy virgin. it celebrates the bonds between parents and children, as well as the roles they play in each other’s lives. we enjoy holidays that allow families to come together and be thankful for all of our blessings. Mary deserves to celebrated as she was a rock of strength for Christ. She not only became his mother, but she also dedicated her life to her son’s mission, facing persecution and fighting for people’s salvation. To this day, people pray to her to intercede and assist in having their prayers answered.  

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Feast of the Immaculate Conception Celebrations: 

The Feast of the Immaculate Conception is celebrated in different ways across the world. Some take the day for solemn prayer and introspection, while others host major festivals where people can honour the Virgin Mary through kinship and celebration. While not recognised as a public holiday in Australia, it’s widely observed among the Catholic community. Held either on or close to 8 December, Australians attend special services or masses held in honour of the Virgin Mary. Special prayers are made, and many churches choose to combine the event with significant anniversaries or other religious observances.

As Catholicism is the major religion in Italy, it’s no wonder the Feast of the Immaculate Conception is taken as a public holiday. The general population, schools and most businesses are given the day off, so many Italians spend the day attending a church mass. There’s a great contrast in the various country-wide celebrations. From his home in the Vatican, the Pope leads the day’s commemoration by travelling into Rome and witnessing a floral wreath being placed on the Madonna statue in Piazza Mignanelli. For residents and tourists wandering the city, however, they can witness – and even participate in – religious-inspired spectacles that often include jugglers, clowns and street performers.

The Feast of the Immaculate Conception is not recognised as a public holiday in Mexico, but that doesn’t stop the country from celebrating the event in its own unique way. Across the Central American nation, special masses are held in honour of Mary. However, for one particular city, the day is an annual festivity. Take a trip to San Juan de los Lagos on 8 December and you’ll find yourself swept up in a sea of food stalls, live music, games and street festivals all dedicated to the Virgin Mary. 

Similar to Australia, the day is not a public holiday in the United Kingdom, nor the United States. And unlike Mexico and Italy, Catholics in the UK and the US tend to treat the Feast of the Immaculate Conception as a symbolic day to be celebrated within the church community. The Immaculata is a popular prayer to recite, while hymns such as Immaculate Mary are commonly sung in specially held church services. In the nine days leading up to the feast, many Catholics in the US and UK also choose to recite a novena (a series of prayers). 

Most Searched FAQs on Feast of the Immaculate Conception: 

1. When is Feast of the Immaculate Conception celebrated? 

Feast of the Immaculate Conception is annually celebrated on 8th December. 

2. What does the Immaculate Conception mean? 

The belief means that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was preserved without sin for her entire life. It was Mary’s closeness to Christ that made her receive God’s “fullness of grace” to be sinless. 

3. How many children did Mary have? 

A careful look at the New Testament shows that Mary kept her vow of virginity and never had any children other than Jesus. When Jesus was found in the Temple at age twelve, the context suggests that he was the only son of Mary and Joseph.

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