Note: Immaculate conception = conception of Mary, NOT conception of Jesus

Day before yesterday, I bought a book, Symbols of Catholicism. In it is written (bolding added): “The immaculate conception of the Son of the Almighty was to be the work of the third person of the Trinity, the Spirit of Love.”

Aaaaargh! The author is even an abbot (Dom Robert Le Gall, Abbot of Kergonan)! He should be defrocked for this inexcusable oversight!

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia (italics in original):

Please, people! When one refers to the “immaculate conception,” one must not confuse it the “miraculous conception” of Jesus Christ! There is nothing immaculate about the conception of Jesus!

Again, the Catholic Encyclopedia (same article above, italics in original, bolding added):

So, there!

WRS - Yes, I am anal-retentive about this. Read and obey!

And while we’re at it, please refrain from using the words chaste, celibate and abstinent interchangeably. A chaste person can have all the sex they want with their legal spouse. A celibate person is not married, not necessarily refraining from sexual activity. An abstinent person is refraining from any sexual activity.
Museum curators who write the captions for art involving saint’s lives should be required to have these simple definitions tattooed on their feet.

And as far as pronunciations go, it’s pronounced:

‘sup-ohz-ed-ly’ not ‘sup-ohz-ub-ly’


‘curb’ not ‘curve’


‘me-dee-en’ not ‘me-dee-um’

Help me understand this. Before Mary was born god had decided that he would knock her up and so when he assembled her soul he left out the part that has to do with Adam eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge that made he and Eve know that they should cover up their naughty bits?

If that’s the case, then it implies that Mary found parading around naked to be an okay thing to do and was most likely a nudist, right?

WeRSauron, don’t call for the good abbot’s defrocking quite yet; the fault may very well be in the translation. Now if the original French had the same fault, then call out the Holy Office. Just curious, does the book have an imprimatur and nihil obstat?

Damnit, WRS, keep it to yourself! That’s one of my best sucker-bet questions!

Wouldn’t make her (or Jesus) unaware that sin exists in the world, and thus the need for modesty.

To quote that immanent theologian, Jon Stewart: “Waaaaaaaaaah?”

(I’m not arguing, just confused. Please help me understand better. Thank you.)

So what does “immaculate” mean, then? I though it meant “untouched” as in Mary was untouched by a human man and yet still got preggers. You’re saying that’s not “immaculate” but “miraculous”?

So, what does that say about Mary’s mother’s sexual history? What do you do to earn the “immaculate” title?

And how could the conception of Mary, in her momma’s womb, be immaculate “in view of the merits of Jesus Christ” if he wasn’t born yet? Is immaculate-status a post facto kind of thing? Or is it an indulgences kind of thing, where her sin was “wiped clean” by the good deed of giving birth to God?

(I can understand why, theologically, it would be required for God to be born of a “clean” vessel, I just hadn’t quite thought it through to the point of Mary being herself conceived “immaculately”.)

I always thought the “immaculate conception of Mary” was a way of saying “when Mary conceived Jesus,” the same way I could refer to my pregnancy by talking about “the night of my conception” doesn’t mean “my” as in the conception that started my life, but the conception that took place in my fallopian tubes. My husband could refer, for example, to the “joyous weeping that occured at the the conception of WhyNot.” “WhyBaby” might make more literal sense, but we’d know what he meant.

So both Mary and Jesus were free of original sin? They were both concieved without sexual intercourse? Then why isn’t Mary’s Mom in statuary? And what’s the difference between “Immaculate” and “miraculous”? Why wasn’t Mary’s conception “miraculous” and why wasn’t Jesus’s “immaculate”? I don’t understand.
(We could discuss “Original Sin” next and how it has nothing to do with that garden or that tree…I know more about that debate!)

Being conceived through sexual intercourse doesn’t mean that the conception can’t be immaculate (untouched by original sin). Presumably, there was sexual intercourse even before the Fall.

The Miraculous Conception (also Immaculate in nature) was performed without a mortal penis.

As in its normal English usage, “immaculate” means clean, without stain or blemish. If someone said that I kept my kitchen immaculate, then he’d be praising how clean it was, not suggesting that some sort of miracle was involved.

So *Immaculate Conception * = the conception of the Blessed Virgin, **without ** the stain of original sin, in the womb of her mother Saint Anne, after the **normal ** human physical process of sexual intercourse between Saint Anne and her husband Saint Joachim.

Whereas *Virgin Birth * = the **miraculous ** conception of Jesus in the womb of the Blessed Virgin, through the Holy Spirit, and **without ** the normal human physical process of sexual intercourse between the Blessed Virgin and her husband Saint Joseph.

If you want to find some statuary of Saints Anne and Joachim, I suggest you pop into any Catholic church dedicated to either of them. Their joint feast day is, if I recall correctly, July 26.

OK, that helps. But how does one seperate sexual intercourse from Original Sin? Original Sin is, according to Augustine, expressed and transmitted through sexual intercourse. Specifically, through erections and semen. How can one have one but not the other?

Is it a “spritual virginity” thing like baptist teenagers are into these days, where Jesus can “restore virginity” through prayer?

(And I was joking about the statuary part. St. Anne is one of my faves, actually. But it does seem as if, in some ways, what God accomplished through her is even more amazing and unlikely than Mary. Seems like it would be better known. By which I mean, of course, I shoulda known it.)

Here’s one of the quotes you gave:

That’s what “immactulate” means in “The Immaculate Conception”. With the uppercase initials, that’s a specific doctrine that refers to Mary. But Jesus’ conception was also an immactulate conception (lowercase), just not the one the doctrine refers to.

In order to be the perfect vessel, the BVM herself had to be spotless, aka having no original sin to pass on to JC (think of original sin as an STD)-- the BVM’s conception itself was miraculous in a way (either Anna or Joachim was too old, can’t remember details; I plead atheist). So her birth without original sin was a mircale in itself-- “immaculate”; JC’s own conception is usually referred to (back In the Day) as the “virgin birth”-- a different kind of miracle. Of course HE didn’t contract original sin since neither BVM or God The Almighty had it to begin with.
Dogmatic terminology and standard English don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand.
Mary’s mom IS in statuary-- Saint Ann. Right-- neither Mary not Jesus had original sin. Ah, you were joking. It’s all miraculous, man.

This issue once started a fight in a bar. Swear to God.

I was in AJ’s Hangar in Kingston one night, in a team with an Army buddy named Nick and his two brothers in the Tuesday night NTN Trivia championship. The game was hotly contested between eight teams - AJ’s was sort of an NTN capital - and it came down to the last question:

“Whose birth was the result of the Immaculate Conception?”

A) Jesus Christ
B) Mary
C) Moses
D) Abraham.

I, Nick, and his brothers were all Catholic. We promptly chose B. Everyone else chose A, and we won by a huge margin.

The other teams were, shall we say, not pleased. Shouting ensued. Angry shouting ensued. Soon people were throwing punches. It was hilarious.

Of course, a more fascinating question would be, who received the Immaculate Reception?

Mary’s Mom was, If I recall my 12 years of Catholic Education properly, St. Anne.


Does this mean that St. Anne never did the deed? and her own mother was a virgin? Those poor, poor husbands. No wonder the sheep were in the manger…and why is it that the word manger is only used in this context and no other? Its never, *" The dead man was found in the manger." *It’s, The Dead Man was found in the sheep’s pen. Covered in poo." You never hear of anyone use it otherwise. I mean, do you?

No. You’re confusing Anne with Mary’s cousin, Elizabeth, and her husband Zachariah. Elizabeth was pretty much beyond child bearing years when she became pregnant with their son, John (John the Baptist).

I’ve never heard that Anne and/or Joachim were too old.

I give to thee post #10.

I just love you guys. You make my heart garden garden. I have nothing more to say. :slight_smile:


This is great, just great. Despite my early obligatory attendance in a Catholic Sunday School, I always thought that the Immaculate Conception had to do with the birth of JC. Decades of misknowledge have been wiped out by this thread. This alone was worth the annual Dope fee.