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Why do we celebrate the Immaculate Conception today?

Today’s glorious feast recalls the perfect sinlessness of Our Lady.

“Who are you?” asked Bernadette.

The Lady raised her eyes to Heaven and joined her hands in prayer.

“I am the Immaculate Conception,” she answered.

Our Lady’s words to St. Bernadette at Lourdes recall a most glorious truth about this Lady. It’s a truth we confess almost every time we address her, since so many titles that we give to Our Lady refer to her sinlessness.

In the Litany of Loreto, we call her Mother most admirable, Mother most pure, Mother inviolate, Mother undefiled, Queen conceived without original sin. In fact, all her titles speak directly or indirectly of her Immaculate Conception.

It is fitting that we should so often praise Our Lady under this title. By a singular privilege bestowed upon her by God, Our Lady was preserved free from original sin at the first moment of her conception. She remained absolutely sinless throughout her life: full of grace and the greatest flowering of every virtue. She is God’s most perfect creation, who alone among all of us mortals loved Him perfectly and fulfilled His will without fail.

The teaching of the Immaculate Conception, though always true and believed by the Church, was solemnly defined as a doctrine of the Catholic Faith on December 8, 1854, by Pope Pius IX in his encyclical Ineffabilis Deus:

“We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful.”

Every year on December 8, nine months before the feast of Our Lady’s Nativity and on the annual anniversary of Ineffabilis Deus, we celebrate this glorious feast to remember and rejoice in Our Lady’s Immaculate Conception.

It’s such an important feast for us Catholics in the United States that it is a Holy Day of Obligation. (Be sure to get to Mass!) We also honor Our Lady as the Patroness of the United States under this title so let us pray for our country on this day, that Our Lady will guide us in the ways of God.

The Miraculous Medal that so many of us wear is inscribed with these words: O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee. This medal is truly a tangible profession of faith in Our Lady’s Immaculate Conception and a wonderful way to honor it. The Catholic Company carries a variety of beautiful Miraculous Medals, such as this popular rhodium-finish medal with a generous 24″ chain. Order yours today!

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