Immaculate Conception

Could someone please point me to the earliest historical references to the teaching behind the Immaculate Conception? Tx Sam

How could someone be blessed before the coming of Christ to free them from sin? “All generations will call me Blessed”… Christ protected Mary from original sin–she still needed Christ for redemption in that way.

The prophet Ezekiel seemed to allude to this when he said, “This gate shall remain shut; it shall not be opened, and no one shall enter by it; for the LORD, the God of Israel, has entered by it; therefore it shall remain shut.”

Our Lady appeared to Saint Bernadette, an uneducated peasant, in Lourdes beginning in 1858. She told her, “I am the Immaculate Conception.”

Try looking at this article - Immaculate Conception

It should answer your questions.


There are oral accounts but we see in 1:28 of Luke that Mary is called Kecharitomene. This means that she was filled with grace in the past and continued in that state. St Jerome (and the Aramaic, Arabic etc + Tyndale, Coverdale) rightly translate this as full of grace.

If Mary recieved God’s grace in the past, her conception would be the most logical time, and if she never lost this grace than never was Mary without God’s grace, her whole entire life.

“He was the ark formed of incorruptible wood. For by this is signified that His tabernacle was exempt from putridity and corruption.” Hippolytus, Orations Inillud, Dominus pascit me (ante A.D. 235).

“This Virgin Mother of the Only-begotten of God, is called Mary, worthy of God, immaculate of the immaculate, one of the one.” Origen, Homily 1(A.D. 244).

From the Catholic Encyclopedia (from the Vulgate Translation):

Elizabeth is the first to call Mary by her most honourable title “Mother of God”. "Filled as she was with the Holy Ghost, Elizabeth “cried out with a loud voice, and said: Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that *the mother of my Lord *should come to me?”

If you want the earliest references of Mary’s Immaculate Conception, please review the article here:

Immaculate Conception is NOT the same thing as the Virgin Birth of Christ.

Are you looking for an Early Church Father on the matter? Otherwise, the earliest reference is**Genesis 3:15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers.**You see, Satan cannot reach Mary because God so ordained it. Jesus is the type of Adam, and Mary is the type of Eve. Eve entered the world without original sin. So did Mary.

I think others have provided good info. and links.

Historically you’d have to go to the Middle Ages. While nothing in the Bible contradicts the teaching, it’s also true that nothing in the Bible explicitly states this teaching. Pope Leo the Great, Thomas Aquinas, and many others were not in favor of this teaching.

There’s some evidence from the 12th century and following of theologians explicitly supporting the doctrine.

Regardless, popular piety and the later definitions of Councils and Popes teach it as dogma.

I noted somewhere, I think on wikipedia, the the feast of the Immaculate Conception was established in the late 1400’s. Long before it was declared dogma. This indicates that it was a widely held belief well before this time.


The Greek in Luke 1:28 does come fairly close, though.

As well, the Catholic Encyclopedia article cites the following references long before the middle ages.

*]The Fathers call Mary the tabernacle exempt from defilement and corruption (Hippolytus, “Ontt. in illud, Dominus pascit me”);
*]Origen calls her worthy of God, immaculate of the immaculate, most complete sanctity, perfect justice, neither deceived by the persuasion of the serpent, nor infected with his poisonous breathings (“Hom. i in diversa”);
*]Ambrose says she is incorrupt, a virgin immune through grace from every stain of sin ("Sermo xxii in Ps. cxviii);
*]Maximus of Turin calls her a dwelling fit for Christ, not because of her habit of body, but because of original grace (“Nom. viii de Natali Domini”);
*]Theodotus of Ancyra terms her a virgin innocent, without spot, void of culpability, holy in body and in soul, a lily springing among thorns, untaught the ills of Eve, nor was there any communion in her of light with darkness, and, when not yet born, she was consecrated to God (“Orat. in S. Dei Genitr.”).
*]In refuting Pelagius St. Augustine declares that all the just have truly known of sin “except the Holy Virgin Mary, of whom, for the honour of the Lord, I will have no question whatever where sin is concerned” (On Nature and Grace 36).
*]Mary was pledged to Christ (Peter Chrysologus, “Sermo cxl de Annunt. B.M.V.”);
*]it is evident and notorious that she was pure from eternity, exempt from every defect (Typicon S. Sabae);
*]she was formed without any stain (St. Proclus, “Laudatio in S. Dei Gen. ort.”, I, 3);
*]she was created in a condition more sublime and glorious than all other natures (Theodorus of Jerusalem in Mansi, XII, 1140);
*]when the Virgin Mother of God was to be born of Anne, nature did not dare to anticipate the germ of grace, but remained devoid of fruit (John Damascene, “Hom. i in B. V. Nativ.”, ii).
*]The Syrian Fathers never tire of extolling the sinlessness of Mary. St. Ephraem considers no terms of eulogy too high to describe the excellence of Mary’s grace and sanctity: “Most holy Lady, Mother of God, alone most pure in soul and body, alone exceeding all perfection of purity …, alone made in thy entirety the home of all the graces of the Most Holy Spirit, and hence exceeding beyond all compare even the angelic virtues in purity and sanctity of soul and body . . . . my Lady most holy, all-pure, all-immaculate, all-stainless, all-undefiled, all-incorrupt, all-inviolate spotless robe of Him Who clothes Himself with light as with a garment . . . flower unfading, purple woven by God, alone most immaculate” (“Precationes ad Deiparam” in Opp. Graec. Lat., III, 524-37).
*]To St. Ephraem she was as innocent as Eve before her fall, a virgin most estranged from every stain of sin, more holy than the Seraphim, the sealed fountain of the Holy Ghost, the pure seed of God, ever in body and in mind intact and immaculate (“Carmina Nisibena”).
*]Jacob of Sarug says that “the very fact that God has elected her proves that none was ever holier than Mary; if any stain had disfigured her soul, if any other virgin had been purer and holier, God would have selected her and rejected Mary”. It seems, however, that Jacob of Sarug, if he had any clear idea of the doctrine of sin, held that Mary was perfectly pure from original sin (“the sentence against Adam and Eve”) at the Annunciation.
[/LIST]Hippolytus wrote around 200 A.D.

The article also mentions something important from Justin Martyr writing around 160, and that is that Mary is the type of Eve. The seeds of the IC are as old as Genesis and visible in the NT and immediately in the early Church. :o

No one here ever said it was. I don’t understand the point of your answer.

Thank you very helpful. You state at the end of the bullets “Hippolytus wrote around 200 A.D.”

I couldn’t tell…are the bulleted lines from Hippolytus?

Tx again


Your profile states you are in RCIA.
Are you currently a non-Christian or do you belong to one of the Protestant denominations? I was previously a Methodist.
The reason I ask is because it is not just the Catholic Church that teaches the Immaculate Conception. Martin Luther, one of the founders of Protestantism, believed in it and declared so in writing.

Martin Luther:

“It is a sweet and pious belief that the infusion of Mary’s soul was effected without original sin; so that in the very infusion of her soul she was also purified from original sin and adorned with God’s gifts, receiving a pure soul infused by God; thus from the first moment she began to live she was free from all sin” (Sermon: “On the Day of the Conception of the Mother of God,” 1527).

“She is full of grace, proclaimed to be entirely without sin- something exceedingly great. For God’s grace fills her with everything good and makes her devoid of all evil”. (Personal {“Little”} Prayer Book, 1522).

Tell me something I don’t know. :rolleyes:
I never stated that they were one and the same.
they aren’t.
Go read the article.

Is that the 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia? I’d recommend you consult the 2003 edition.

Hippolytus lived in the late 1st/early 2nd century, but historical context is important: (1) he was an anti-Pope and (2) the most famous writing attributed to him (The Apostolic Tradition) is considered by many if not a majority of scholars to contain many parts that were written much later.

Anyway, I stand by my original posting you responded to, though I don’t think you contradicted me so all’s well.

I am coming from a pentecostal (AG) background. Hearing Martin Luther’s beliefs is interesting, tx

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