Strange interpretation of the IC dogma from my mom

I’m not here to argue about the dogma of the immaculate conception in the Eastern Catholic/Orthodox Churches or anyone’s belief concerning the official dogma.

My question arises from a confusion my (Chaldean Catholic) mother and grandmother have concerning the dogma. They think it means that due to the “old age” of Saints Anne and Joachim that the Virgin Mary was conceived miraculously, yet was indeed the daughter of both Anne and Joachim.

I’ve tried explaining that old age could mean anything, (18 was considered old if you weren’t married even in the early years of the 20th century), the old age belief is mostly tradition, and that only Jesus Christ was conceived miraculously, etc. They remained firm in believing the Theotokos was someone so special and predestined from conception that she wasn’t conceived by natural means.

Again, I can’t stress this enough, I don’t want to discuss the actual dogma recognized by the Roman Catholic Church, nor the belief of any Orthodox Church on the acutal dogma as well.

I would like to know if anyone has ever heard of this misinterpretation of the dogma being popular or even preached anywhere or if its just limited to my family?

Thanks :slight_smile:

According to the Scriptures Isaac from Sara, Samuel from Anna and John the Baptist from Elisabeth was conceived miraculously from old age parents. None of them is believed to be conceived w/o the original sin.

I think that our tradition still holds Mary’s conception to be miraculous. Could of it been so miraculous that it was post-metapausal and therefore not completely “natural means” maybe. Not to be graphic but unlike Jesus’ conception the mechanics would still be there. Similar to John the Baptist. I’m pretty sure it says that she was past the age for bearing children, too. THAT was miraculous…there are plenty of miraculous conceptions in the Bible…only one that occured with a supernatural father, though.

And I’m pretty sure “old age” would be to someon 40+. The Bible would consider an unmarried person to be “old maid” at 18 but they still had regular childbearing ages.

I think I was told that the story of Joachim & Anne were found in the apocryphal gospel of St. Thomas. I’d look there first for detail.

That doesn’t make sense to me. Only Jesus Christ was miraculously conceived. It makes more sense to me that miraculously (being medical here) the reproductive organs of women like Sarah and Elizabeth were made to function again so that along with their husbands, they could conceive a child. It should also be noted that angels spoke to these people from the bible before they had conceived their children, I guess as a command from God.

On the Theotokos, we don’t have any scripture that is canonical and therefore we cannot officially by what means or miracle she was conceived. My issue here is that some people believe that just due to the old age of people in the bible who had these miraculous births that they are also virgin births. If no actual action that led to conception happened, nor any artificial insemination (technology didn’t exist back then), then nobody should refer to the conception of Prophet Issac and John the Baptist, or the Theotokos for that matter, as Virgin Births or the misunderstanding of the Immaculate Conception dogma in this manner.

I hope I got my opinion across, but I may be wrong so I would like more insight on this issue.

IC, East and West, has nothing to do with the age of the Blessed Mother’s parents and everything to do with the state of her soul. In the West it is described as being born without Original Sin, in the East they understand it as being preserved from the effects of the first sin. (My EC brethern correct me if I am wrong)

Pope Alexander VII in 1661 formally condemned the idea that Mary was not conceived NATURALLY by Sts. Joachim and Hannah.


Marduk for the win! Incredible reference.

Yes indeed. And the East affirms she was conceived and born sanctified by the Holy Spirit which is why there is the (ancient) feast of the Conception of the Mother of God. Interestingly enough, the East also celebrates the feast of the Conception of John the Baptist - and without dogmatizing, this means he was also sanctified at his Conception (although not on an equal par with the Mother of God, of course).

This is why St John the Baptist is to the East what St Joseph is to the West - there are seven annual feasts in his honour in the Byzantine tradition and every Tuesday is dedicated to him in the weekly commemorations for the Divine Office.


What do you mean that he was sanctified at conception? Pious tradition tends to indicate that he was baptized in the womb when Mary went to visit Elizabeth and the infant in her womb leaped for joy. Lk 1:44

You’re awesome Marduk. Thanks. :smiley:

Hello Cristiano!

We mean just that - John the Baptist was sanctified by the Holy Spirit at his Conception. This does not mean that John could not have been sanctified at the time of his mother’s meeting the Most Holy Virgin Mary as well - sanctification is a dynamic process. We have a feast of the Conception of John the Baptist (lex orandi - lex credendi) but no feast of the Visitation.


Now I see what you meant and it makes sense, I though that you implied something else. Thanks

Yes, I feel I am often misunderstood - of my own making :slight_smile:

God bless you!


Regarding the conception of Saint Ann, since she was past menopause, it was suprising that she conceived. St. John Damascene (First Sermon on the Nativity of Mary) wrote:
“Plainly, the virgin birth (of a once sterile mother) was necessary that the road was to be a new thing under the sun and the chief among wonders should be paved by wonders and a gradual ascent should be made from the lower to the more sublime. For the rest, I can advance another higher and more Divine reason. Nature yields before grace and stands irresolute, ceasing to act. Since therefore the Mother of God was to be born a virgin of Anne, nature did not dare to impede the bud of grace but remained devoid of fruit while grace was bring forth its fruit.”

In ancient times, married couples that conceive a child were favored by God, because they were just. Read Psalm 127 indicating that the just will be fruitful:

  1. Blessed are all they that fear the Lord: that walk in his ways.
  2. For thou shalt eat the labours of thy hands: blessed art thou, and it shall be well with thee.
  3. Thy wife as a fruitful vine, on the sides of thy house.
  4. Behold, thus shall the man be blessed that feareth the Lord.
  5. May the Lord bless thee out of Sion: and mayest thou see the good things of Jerusalem all the days of thy life.
  6. And mayest thou see thy children’s children, peace upon Israel.
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