Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception

Special Notice about this Holy Day of Obligation

January 03, 2012

On Saturday, December 8, the Catholic Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This feast is a Holy Day of Obligation in the Catholic Church.

The feast marks Mary’s conception in the womb of Saint Anne. God sanctified Mary, saving her from Original Sin. Mary was destined to consent to bear Christ. As explained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “In order for Mary to be able to give the free assent of her faith to the announcement of her vocation, it was necessary that she be wholly borne by God’s grace. Through the centuries the Church has become ever more aware that Mary, ‘full of grace’ through God, was redeemed from the moment of her conception.” (CCC n.490)

On December 8, 1854, Pope Pius IX officially declared in the Apostolic Constitution Ineffabilis deus that the Immaculate Conception is a dogma of the Church, which means that all Christians are bound to accept it as true. Pope Pius IX wrote, “The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Saviour of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin.”

Because this feast day honors Mary, the Mother of God and celebrates one of the most important events in salvation history, this Holy Day of Obligation is never abrogated (temporarily waived) for Catholics.

The Archdiocese of Washington is home to over 600,000 Catholics living in Washington, DC and five Maryland counties: Calvert, Charles, Montgomery, Prince George’s and St. Mary’s.

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