The Meaning of the Immaculate Conception

When Mary appeared to Bernadette Soubirous at Lourdes, Bernadette asked her for her name. Instead of giving her name, she replied, “I am the Immaculate Conception”. This doesn’t sound very much like a name. In fact, Bernadette didn’t even know what the words meant; she had to ask the parish priest to explain them to her.

A few years earlier, in 1854, Pope Pius IX had taught that Mary was immaculately conceived. This means that she was always free of original sin. She was never separated from God. All through her life, Mary never committed a sin.

Why would Mary call herself the Immaculate Conception instead of giving her name? There have been many women named Mary, but only one woman who was Immaculate. For Mary, being in a loving relationship with God was more important than anything else, even her own name.

None of us are immaculate; we have all sinned. But through Mary’s obedience, Jesus came into the world to redeem us. If we follow him, we will be purified from sin and become able to imitate Mary’s loving relationship with God.