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Marian Myths

Crushing Myths to Share the Truth

MYTH: The Immaculate Conception is Jesus conceived in Mary.
FACT: The Immaculate Conception is Mary, conceived without sin.

The Immaculate Conception was defined by Pope Pius IX in 1854, in the words of the Pope, "We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instant of her conception... was preserved from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful."


The Immaculate Conception


Fr. John Hardon, "Spes Nostra"
Mary's freedom from sin, already at conception, is already taught by St. Ephraem in the fourth century. In one of his hymns, he addressed Our Lord, "Certainly You alone and your Mother are from every aspect completely beautiful. There is no blemish in you my Lord, and no stain in your Mother."
By the seventh century, the feast of Mary's Immaculate Conception was celebrated in the East. In the eight century, the feast was commemorated in Ireland, and from there spread to other countries in Europe.
In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, some leading theologians, even saints, raised objections to the Immaculate Conception. Their main difficulty was how Mary could be exempt from all sin before the coming of Christ. Here the Franciscan Blessed Duns Scotus (1266-1308) stood firm and paved the way for the definition of the Immaculate Conception by Pope Pius IX in 1854.
Four years after the definition, Our Lady appeared to St. Bernadette in Lourdes, identifying herself as the Immaculate Conception. The numerous miracles at Lourdes are a divien confirmation of the doctrine defined by Pius IX. They are also a confirmation of the papal primacy defined by the First Vatican Council under the same Bishop of Rome.

MYTH: Assumption means Mary never died.
FACT: Assumption means Mary's body and soul assumed into heaven.

The declaration of the dogma of the Assumption, MUNIFICENTISSIMUS DEUS, by Pope Pius XII did not define whether Mary died. Rather, while referencing her death, the Church proclaimed that she assumed body and soul into heaven. That Mary died peacefully and was soon after assumed body and soul into heaven to be with her Son is one of the earliest traditions of the Church.


The Assumption 


Fr. Hugh Barbour, O. Praem. vol.2, no. 4 July-August 1994
Our Lady is the Mother of God, and not merely the Mother of Christ’s humanity because a mother is the mother of a person not of a nature. She is the mother, not just of body and soul, but of the person whereby body and soul exist. For Mary, this person was the indestructible Divine Person of God the Son. No matter what could happen to Our Lord’s humanity, she would remain his mother because of his person. Faith teaches us that, even though, the soul and body and blood of Our Lord was separated in death, his person was not separated from any of the constituents of his sacred humanity. The lifeless Body of Christ in the arms of his mother was God the Son in person, his precious blood lying in the dust of Calvary was adorable and divine, the soul of Christ liberating the souls of the dead was the God of Life. He was Mary's son everywhere. No wonder he rose from the dead! Thus, He showed the power of the incorruptible person, who was Mary’s son. Mary’s divine maternity was never broken by her son’s death. Her maternity was a foretaste of the resurrection. The resurrection made visible what was already apparent to the eyes of her faith: the bond between their persons could not be broken by death because death for her Son was not the destruction of his person! The resurrection is also a Marian mystery, the victory of her motherhood.
Mary was sinless like her son. She was immaculate so as to be a fit mother to the one who is all-holy and incapable of sinning. Recalling our earlier definition of sin, we can state the case this way: Mary never broke her union with other persons, God or neighbor, so as to be the Mother of the one whose person was indestructible. Mary was sinless so as to be the Mother of the one who was triumphant over death. But remember how he died: freely, willingly, not as a necessity, but as an act of love of God and neighbor to atone for sin. Being without sin herself, Our Lady did not have to die as a necessary penalty either. Were she to die, she could do so only as a free act, to express her love for God or neighbor.
In defining the dogma of the Assumption, Pope Pius XII did not define that Mary died, but he made constant reference to her death in the document that contains the dogmatic definition. The liturgical tradition of the Church in East and West bears this out well. St. Francis de Sales presents her dying of love for he Son, longing to be with Him.
Undoubtedly this is true, yet as one who perfectly imitated Christ, Mary would have chosen a death like his, a sacrificial death, one which showed extreme humility and self-emptying.
Now we come to the fact which takes our breath away. Death for Mary would mean the sacrifice of her motherhood. Even if she were dead only for a moment, her person would cease as it does for all mere human beings, for unlike her Divine Son her person was not indestructible. Mary’s soul was not the Mother of God nor was her pure body lying in death and honored by the assembled apostles.
What must have been the merit of that last act of the will whereby Mary rendered her soul to God! What must be the merit of sacrificing the greatest of honors, one which even Calvary hand not been able to take from her! What must be the glory she deserved on account of her sacrifice willingly undertaken, not for herself, but for us in imitation of her son, her Redeemer, and ours! And what did Christ bestow on her as her crown?
He returned to her the honor of her motherhood by reuniting her soul and body, restoring her person, the Mother of God the Son, the risen, and Glorious Son of a Risen and Glorious Mother! The divine maternity was the reason for all her other privileges and merits becomes their reward as well. In the light of Mary’s freely willed, sacrificial death the words of the liturgy at Easter make perfect sense: “He whom you merited to bear is risen!”
Actually, in celebrating Mary’s Assumption we celebrate her motherhood, but a motherhood now made more perfectly universal, because of the sacrifice she made in death for our sake, and the power of her resurrection that her motherhood now represents.
Mary’s death was truly the death of a Co-Redemptrix, a saving and sacrificial death. What gratitude should accompany our acts of Faith in the mystery of the Assumption of the Mother of God! How utterly and totally we should be consecrated to her who sacrificed for us greatest honor and glory. How eagerly we should dispose of ourselves to die a holy and Marian death so as to share a Marian resurrection. How beautifully does our faith in Jesus and Mary penetrate and solve the problem of death!