December 8

The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Patron Saint of the United States
Brazil, Korea, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Philippines, Portugal, Spain, Uruguay

The Story of the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception

A feast called the Conception of Mary arose in the Eastern Church in the seventh century. It came to the West in the eighth century. In the 11th century it received its present name, the Immaculate Conception. In the 18th century it became a feast of the universal Church. It is now recognized as a solemnity.

In 1854, Pius IX solemnly proclaimed: “The most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instant of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin.”

It took a long time for this doctrine to develop. While many Fathers and Doctors of the Church considered Mary the greatest and holiest of the saints, they often had difficulty in seeing Mary as sinless—either at her conception or throughout her life. This is one of the Church teachings that arose more from the piety of the faithful than from the insights of brilliant theologians. Even such champions of Mary as Bernard of Clairvaux and Thomas Aquinas could not see theological justification for this teaching.

Two Franciscans, William of Ware and Blessed John Duns Scotus, helped develop the theology. They pointed out that Mary’s Immaculate Conception enhances Jesus’ redemptive work. Other members of the human race are cleansed from original sin after birth. In Mary, Jesus’ work was so powerful as to prevent original sin at the outset.




Songs of the season:

The First Noel

Mary Did You Know


The Ladybug Legend!


Legends vary about how the Ladybug came to be named, but the most common (and enduring) is this:   In Europe, during the Middle Ages, swarms of insects were destroying the crops.  The farmers prayed to the Virgin Mary for help.  Soon thereafter the Ladybugs came, devouring the plant-destroying pests and saving the crops!  The farmers called these beautiful insects "The Beetles of Our Lady", and - over time - they eventually became popularly known as "Lady Beetles or Ladybugs".  The red wings were said to represent the Virgin's cloak and the black spots were symbolic of both her joys and her sorrows.



Moravian Christmas Cake (Cookies)

  • 3/4 cup butter and lard or shortening, mixed

  • 3/4 cup brown sugar

  • 1 pint black molasses

  • 7 1/2 cups sifted flour

  • 4 Tbsp. ground cloves

  • 4 Tbsp. ground cinnamon

  • 4 Tbsp. ground ginger

  • 1 tsp. salt

  • 1 Tbsp. soda

  • 1/4 cup boiling water


  1. Cream butter and lard with sugar.

  2. Add molasses. Sift flour with spices and salt.

  3. Add soda to boiling water.

  4. Add flour mixture and soda water to creamed mixture. 

  5. Work well with the hands. 

  6. Cover and store in a cold place overnight, preferably longer.

  7. Roll to infinite thinness on board. 

  8. Bake on greased cookie sheets in moderate oven, 375 degrees, for a very few minutes or just until they begin to brown.

Note: This recipe calls for a hefty quantity of ingredients and produce batches and batches of cookies. If you’re considering whipping up a batch yourself, consider reducing the recipe by half.

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