The 8th of December is a Catholic feast celebrating The Blessed Virgin Mary’s conception without sin. Even though this feast day occurs in the liturgical season of Advent, which prepares for the birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Immaculate Conception refers to the conception of Mary in the womb of her mother, St. Anne.
The dogma of the Immaculate Conception was first officially stated by Pope Pius IX on Dec. 8, 1854. “We declare, pronounce and define,” he wrote, in an encyclical titled “Ineffabilis Deus” (“Ineffable God”), “that the most blessed Virgin Mary, at the first instant of her conception, was preserved immaculate from all stain of original sin, by the singular grace and privilege of the omnipotent God, in virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, the saviour of mankind, and that this doctrine was revealed by God and therefore must be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful.”
Just a little over three years after the pope had proclaimed the Immaculate Conception a dogma, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to a 14-year-old girl from Lourdes, France. From February 11 to July 16 of 1858, St. Bernadette Soubirous reported 18 apparitions of “a Lady”, who was wearing a white veil and a blue girdle, had a golden rose on each foot and held a rosary of pearls. On the day of the sixteenth apparition, March 25, St. Bernadette asked the “Lady” her name. the Virgin Mary responded in the local dialect: “Que soy era Immaculada Counceptiou”, which means “I am the Immaculate Conception”.
The apparition in Lourdes has fortified the dogma further.