The Immaculate Conception of Mary
by Dr. Robert Schihl
The constant faith (tradition: paradosis) of the Church attests to the belief in the
special preparation of the holiness of the person of Mary to bear in her body the most
holy person of the Son of God.
- implicitly found in the Fathers of the Church in the parallelism between Eve and Mary
(Irenaeus, Lyons, 140? - 202?);
- Found in the more general terms about Mary: "holy", "innocent",
"most pure", "intact", "immaculate" (Irenaeus, Lyons,
140?-202?; Ephraem, Syria, 306-373; Ambrose, Milan, 373-397);
- Explicit language: Mary - free from original sin (Augustine, Hippo, 395-430 to Anselm,
- celebrated a Feast of the Conception of Mary in the 8th to the 9th Century;
- celebrated a Feast of the Conception of Mary in the 12th Century;
- A record of the feast in the 11th Century in Great Britain; in the 12th Century in
- Record in many churches of a Feast of the Conception of Mary in France, Germany, Italy
and Spain in the 12th Century (Bernard, Clairvaux, 1090-1153);
- was noted for the opposition to the Immaculate Conception from some of the great doctors
of scholasticism. The celebration of the feast was not denied though. The difficulty arose
from the meaning of the universal redemption through Christ.
- Franciscan theologians solved the difficulty--Christ, the most perfect mediator,
preserved Mary from original sin by an equally perfect act of healing. Duns Scotus
(Scotland, 1266-1308) explained that the Immaculate Conception came through God's
application of the grace of Christ beforehand.
From 15th Century:
- the Feast was universally celebrated; and christian piety introduced an oath to defend
the belief in the Immaculate Conception to be taken not only by Religious, but also by
non-Religious and at the Universities (e.g., Paris, 1497; Cologne, 1499; Vienna, 1501,
1854, Pope Pius IX, infallibly defined, ex cathedra:
- "The Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instant of her conception, by a singular
grace and privilege of Almighty God, and in view of the foreseen merits of Jesus Christ,
the savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin."
Excerpted and abridged from Chap. 7 of A Biblical Apologetic of the Catholic Faith,
by Dr. Robert Schihl, Professor at Regent University. It appears here for for personal use
only and may not be reproduced for any other use without permission of the author. The
complete text may be downloaded from EWTN's Apologetics library as APOLOGIA.ZIP.
If you find this Biblical Apologetic of use please send your thanks to:
Dr. Robert J. Schihl
Professor, School of Radio, Television and Film
College of Communications and the Arts
Virginia Beach, Virginia 23464-9800