The Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary

On December 8th 1854, Pope Pius IX solemnly defined as a dogma of Catholic faith Mary's Immaculate Conception in the womb of her own mother, St. Ann.  The precise words of the definition found in the apostolic constitution Ineffabilis Deus are these:  "We declare, pronounce and define that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instant 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."

Several important truths are taught in this definition:

The main reason for Mary's unique privilege of the Immaculate Conception given in Pius IX's apostolic constitution is that she was predestined by the Divine Persons of the Trinity to be the Theotokos (Greek = God-Bearer), or Mother of the Word incarnate, that is made flesh.  Because of His extreme holiness it was necessary that He became united with a human nature in the womb of a woman who was never infected by even the slightest sin.  Not original sin (which would have made her a part of the human race's corporate alienation from God) nor personal, or actual sin, even though venial (which would have impeded her love of God and neighbor.  In 1858, when Mary introduced herself to Bernadette of Lourdes she used these words: "I am the Immaculate Conception."  Since 1854 there have been several reaffirmations of this dogma of the Immaculate Conception by the Magisterium.

For Biblical text references see Genesis 3:15; Luke 1:42; Luke 1:28; and Romans 5:12-21. For Catechism references see CCC# 491-492; 508.  CCC# 508: From among the descendants of Eve, God chose the Virgin Mary to be the mother of his Son. "Full of grace," Mary is "the most excellent fruit of redemptions" (SC 103): from the first instant of her conception, she was totally preserved from the stain of original sin and she remained pure from all personal sin throughout her life.    
Michal Hunt, Copyright © 1995 Agape Bible Study. Permissions All Rights Reserved.