Immaculate Conception


Immaculate Conception
Rom. Cath. Ch.
the dogma of the unique privilege by which the Virgin Mary was conceived in her mother's womb without the stain of original sin through the anticipated merits of Jesus Christ. Cf. virgin birth (def. 1).
[1680-90]

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In Roman Catholicism, the dogma that Mary was not tainted by original sin.

Early exponents included St. Justin Martyr and St. Irenaeus; St. Bonaventure and St. Thomas Aquinas were among those who opposed it. In 1439 the Council of Basel stated that the belief was in accordance with Catholic faith, and in 1709 Pope Clement XI made the feast of the Immaculate Conception a holy day of obligation. In 1854 Pius IX issued a papal bull making it official church dogma. See also Virgin Birth.

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 Roman Catholic dogma asserting that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was preserved free from the effects of the sin of Adam (usually referred to as “ original sin”) from the first instant of her conception. Although various texts in both the Old and the New Testaments have been cited in defense of the doctrine, it seems to have arisen from a general acceptance in the early church of Mary's holiness. Especially after Mary had been solemnly declared to be the mother of God at the Council of Ephesus in 431, most theologians doubted that one who had been so close to God could have actually experienced sinful acts.

      The view that Mary had been spared also from the disposition to evil inherent in original sin was not clearly articulated until the 12th century, when considerable debate was centred on an English celebration of Mary's conception. The discussion was clouded by medieval views of the biological aspects of conception and by a concern that the belief in the universal redemption effected by Jesus should not be threatened. The latter concern (particularly associated with St. Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century) was countered not long after by the Franciscan theologian John Duns Scotus (Duns Scotus, John), who argued that Christ's redemptive grace was applied to Mary to prevent sin from reaching her soul and that this special intervention resulted in a more perfect redemption in her case. Mary's privilege, thus, was the result of God's grace and not of any intrinsic merit on her part. A gradual acceptance of the Franciscan's views over the next several centuries was reflected in the teaching of various popes (especially Sixtus IV in the late 15th century) and the councils of Basel (1439) and Trent (1546). It was not, however, until Dec. 8, 1854, that Pius IX, urged by the majority of Catholic bishops throughout the world, solemnly declared in the bull Ineffabilis Deus that the doctrine was revealed by God and hence was to be firmly believed as such by all Catholics. The feast of the Immaculate Conception is celebrated on December 8.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Immaculate Conception — • In the Constitution Ineffabilis Deus of 8 December, 1854, Pius IX pronounced and defined that the Blessed Virgin Mary in the first instance of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace granted by God, in view of the merits of Jesus… …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Immaculate conception — Immaculate Im*mac u*late, a. [L. immaculatus; pref. im not + maculatus, p. p. of maculare to spot, stane, fr. macula spot. See {Mail} armor.] Without stain or blemish; spotless; undefiled; clear; pure. [1913 Webster] Were but my soul as pure From …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Immaculate Conception — ► NOUN 1) (in the Roman Catholic Church) the doctrine that God preserved the Virgin Mary from the taint of original sin from the moment she was conceived. 2) the feast commemorating the Immaculate Conception on December 8th …   English terms dictionary

  • Immaculate Conception — n. R.C.Ch. the doctrine that the Virgin Mary, though conceived naturally, was from the moment of conception free from any original sin: sometimes confused with VIRGIN BIRTH …   English World dictionary

  • Immaculate Conception — For the novel by Gaétan Soucy, see The Immaculate Conception. Immaculata redirects here. For other uses, see Immaculata (disambiguation). La Purisima Inmaculada Concepcion by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, 1678, now in Museo del Prado, Spain. The… …   Wikipedia

  • Immaculate conception —    A theological doctrine that asserts that the Virgin Mary was conceived without sin. This doctrine did not become dogma until 1854, although Pope Sixtus IV gave it official approval in 1475. The doctrine was passionately defended for centuries …   Dictionary of Renaissance art

  • Immaculate Conception — noun 1. Roman Catholic holy day first celebrated in 1854 • Syn: ↑December 8 • Hypernyms: ↑holy day of obligation 2. (Christianity) the Roman Catholic dogma that God preserved the Virgin Mary from any stain of original sin from the moment she was… …   Useful english dictionary

  • Immaculate Conception — noun Date: 1687 1. the conception of the Virgin Mary in which as decreed in Roman Catholic dogma her soul was preserved free from original sin by divine grace 2. December 8 observed as a Roman Catholic feast in commemoration of the Immaculate… …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Immaculate Conception — noun a) The doctrine, in the Roman Catholic Church, that the Virgin Mary was conceived free from original sin b) December 8th (The Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary) …   Wiktionary

  • Immaculate Conception — noun the Roman Catholic doctrine that God preserved the Virgin Mary from the taint of original sin from the moment she was conceived. ↘the feast commemorating the Immaculate Conception on December 8th …   English new terms dictionary


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