8 December – The Feast of the Immaculate Conception

AnneSantiagoHere in Spain, and in many other Catholic countries, today is a public holiday because it is the feast day of the Immaculate Conception, a feast which dates back to the 7th century when Eastern churches began celebrating the conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. That is the origin of the feast, but the feast day as we know it today in the West dates back to around the 11th century.

When they hear the words “immaculate conception”, people tend to think that it is a commemoration and celebration of the immaculate conception of Jesus Christ in the womb of the Virgin Mary, but it is actually referring to Mary’s conception in the womb of her mother, St Anne. Mary’s own immaculate conception meant that she had been conceived free from the taint of original sin.

One of the tableaux in Anne Boleyn’s coronation procession had St Anne as its theme and you can find out more about this, and how Anne linked herself with Mary’s mother, in my article The Feast of the Immaculate Conception, St Anne and Anne Boleyn.

Picture: The Virgin and Child with St Anne in the Cathedral Museum of the Church of Santiago de Compostela.

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5 thoughts on “8 December – The Feast of the Immaculate Conception”
  1. The inclusion of a Saint Anne theme at Anne Boleyn’s coronation is, in hindsight, an eerie parallel between the two. Like the saint with whom she shared a name, Anne bore a daughter renowned for her virginity.

  2. I find it funny that so many people – including Christian clergy – think that the “original sin” was sex.

    Rereading that portion of the Bible, it seems clear that the original sin was DISOBEDIENCE – God gave the command to not eat of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Giving in to the temptation of the serpent, Eve ate, then offered some to Adam, who also ate. Even though God had made it clear that they were NOT to eat the fruit from that tree.

    1. I didn’t think that they did, Miladyblue, I always thought that the “original sin” was disobedience, i.e. Adam and Eve giving into temptation and disobeying God’s one law, but that woman bore the taint of the original sin as she was the one who was tempted and who then tempted Adam. In Genesis, God “curses” Eve and all the woman she and her kind will ever bear “Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception” so it was important to believe that the Virgin Mary was free from this taint by having her immaculately conceived. It wasn’t to do with sex, in my reading of it anyway, it was to do with the taint/curse that women carried from their onw conception and which they passed on to their daughters.

      1. Well, you and I, at least, are on the same page. However, there are a lot of people who misinterpret those verses to mean that original sin was sex, hence the comment.

        I find it difficult to believe that by the point where Adam and Eve had committed their disobedience that they had not consummated their relationship. After all, an earlier command God gave in the garden was “Be fruitful and multiply.”

        Mighty nice of God too – if that is not TOO blasphemous! – to blame women for the temptation and downfall, and giving them extra punishment. After all, Adam DID give in. He could have said something along the lines of, “No thanks, I ate already.”

  3. Mary had to be kept free from the will to sin as she was chosen to be the Mother of God; she had to be a pure vessel to carry the Saviour in her whom as He was without sin. We still have the feast at my local church and have a pocession, but this year I was too ill to attend, so nice to read the readings instead.

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