“A virgin, innocent, spotless, free of all defect, untouched, unsullied, holy in soul and body, like a lily sprouting among thorns” Theodotus of Ancyra, Homily 6, 11{ante A.D. 446)

Catholics are the only Christians who believe in the Immaculate Conception of Mary. Some might ask, what made Mary, the Mother of God, so special? Mary was created without the stain of original sin, therefore she is the purest of all creatures.  Immaculate means pure or spotless (from the Latin immaculamacula being a stain), so Immaculate Conception means that she was conceived without stains. A fourth century saint called Theodotus of Ancyra wrote about Mary “A virgin, innocent, spotless, free of all defect, untouched, unsullied, holy in soul and body, like a lily sprouting among thorns“.

Is there proofs from the Scriptures that Mary was conceived without original sin? The answer is, yes! Isaiah 66:7 reads “Before she was in labour, she brought forth; before her time came to be delivered, she brought forth a man-child“. What was one of the consequence of original sin for women? It was the pain of labour (Gen 3:16). So Isaiah prophecies that this woman would not enter into labour, and that she would deliver a man-child before her time came to be delivered. This is exactly what happened! Mary was saved from original sins through the merits of her own son’s passion, before he was born. She was preserved from original sin, through Jesus, before he suffered, died, and resurrected. “Who hath ever heard such a thing? and who hath seen the like to this?” (Isa 66:8). The Catechism of the Council of Trent actually states that the birth of Jesus was “like light passing through glass“. It doesn’t go in the details, but it does give us an idea, His birth different from any other.

So we have the Old Testament, but what about the New Testament, isn’t there something there as well? Yes there is, in the Angelic Salutation, or Luke 1:28. “And the angel being come in, said unto her : Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. Now the Greek for full of grace is κεχαριτωμένη, or kecharitomene. It is a perfect passive participle, and the verb means being graced. It is a perfect past even, continuing fully into the present. Mary is being graced from the beginning to the end of her life. From her very beginning, as the verb of κεχαριτωμένη indicates, Mary is filled with God’s grace.

“Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign: Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Emmanuel” (Isa 7:14)

mary2336Statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary ©Mathieu N. J. Langlois