Dec. 8 is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception has nothing to do with the conception of Jesus. It means that Mary herself was immaculately conceived, i.e. without original sin.|
The idea is central to the belief in her absolute perfection and purity as the vessel of Christ's incarnation. She is the second Eve who will undo the trouble caused by the first one. She is part of God's plan for the redemption of humanity, and she was there from the beginning.
The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception did not become official Catholic dogma until 1854 but it had been passionately held by many Catholics for centuries. The Immaculate Conception was fiercely debated from medieval times (the Franciscans supporting, the Dominicans rejecting, the idea), reaching a climax during the Counter-Reformation when the Jesuits propounded the idea in defiance of Protestantism.
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