I was taught that the Blessed Virgin Mary was immaculately conceived and that Jesus was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit. A nun in the Catholic school were I work told my friend that the Church teaches that there are two Immaculate Conceptions: Jesus and Mary. Can anyone shed light on this?
The Church does not ordinarily refer to Jesus’ conception as an immaculate conception; his conception is called the Incarnation, and the miraculous circumstances surrounding his birth is called the Virgin Birth.
It helps if we understand what exactly the Immaculate Conception of Mary was: Physically speaking, she was conceived in the normal way through the marital relations of her parents. Spiritually speaking, God preserved her free of original sin at the moment of her conception in anticipation of the grace Jesus would win on the cross.
Christ’s conception was entirely different: By the power of the Holy Spirit, God the Son assumed a human nature and became man within the womb of a virgin without the intervention of a human father. Christ has two natures, divine and human; but he is only one Person, God. Because he is God, he was not subject to sin, although he assumed the consequences of sin in order to redeem us. In other words, because he did not need to be preserved from sin, as Mary did, his conception was not an immaculate conception. Because he is God made man, his conception was the Incarnation.