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History of the Immaculate Conception?

Q. Why did the dogmatic definition of the Immaculate Conception come so late in history?

A. The Church’s formal definition of this dogma did indeed come late historically. In the Apostolic Constitution Ineffabilis Deus (December 8, 1854), Pope Blessed Pius IX formally declared that the Blessed Virgin Mary, “in the first instance of her conception, by a singular [unique] privilege and grace granted by God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved exempt from all stain of original sin.”

Why so late? We have here a classic case of the development of Catholic doctrine. Such development reflects a deeper, more nuanced understanding and clarification of the Church’s ancient belief, rooted in Scripture and Tradition. It is brought about by extended reflection, devotion, discussion, and even debate, over time, culminating in a decisive formal definition by the Church’s Magisterium (teaching office).

Many ancient Church Fathers in the first five Christian centuries declared boldly Our Lady’s immunity from sin, finding that reality alluded to, if not explicitly stated, in such scriptural passages as Genesis 3:15 and Luke 1:28. They often spoke of this immunity in absolute terms, declaring that she is “in every respect holy,” “in all things unstained,” “super-innocent,” “all-pure,