Fact Check

Immaculate Conception

Does the term 'Immaculate Conception' refer to the birth of Jesus?

Published Dec 9, 1998

The statue of the Virgin Mary is carried by believers during a mass at the Fatima Shrine in central Portugal on May 13, 2009, in celebration of the 92nd anniversary of the claimed first appearance of the Virgin Mary to three shepherd children in 1917. AFP PHOTO/ FRANCISCO LEONG (Photo credit should read FRANCISCO LEONG/AFP via Getty Images) (FRANCISCO LEONG/AFP via Getty Images)
Image Via FRANCISCO LEONG/AFP via Getty Images
The term "Immaculate Conception" refers to the conception of Jesus by the Virgin Mary.

The term "immaculate conception" is often used generally to denote the

Joseph and Mary

conception of a child by a woman who has not engaged in sexual intercourse, and specifically to the conception of Jesus by the Virgin Mary. Both usages are incorrect.

"Immaculate Conception" refers to neither the conception of Jesus nor to a virgin birth. It is a specific doctrine of Roman Catholicism decreeing that the Virgin Mary was preserved free from original sin by divine grace from the moment of her conception. Although this dogma had been argued since the twelfth century, it was not made official until 1854 by Pope Pius IX. Since then December 8 has been observed as a Roman Catholic feast in commemoration of the Immaculate Conception.

Additional information:

    Immaculate Conception   Immaculate Conception   (Catholic Encyclopedia)


Burnam, Tom.   The Dictionary of Misinformation.     New York: Harper & Row, 1975.   ISBN 0-06-091315-0   (p. 117).  

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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