On December 8 every year, the Catholic Church celebrates the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. This feast always falls in the period of Advent. What does it mean?

Christian tradition proposes a parallel between Mary and the Ark of the Covenant. The children of Israel received the commandments to build the Tent of Meeting and to place in its midst the Ark of the Covenant. When all had been completed by Moses and the people, it is written in the Book of Exodus: “So Moses finished the work” (40:33). The formulation here reminds us of the end of the Creation of the world in the Book of Genesis: “So God finished the work” (2:2). There is a clear parallel between the Creation as a place where God dwells with humanity and the Tent of Meeting where God dwells in the midst of his people. When all is ready, the cloud covers the Tent of Meeting and “the glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle” (Exodus 40:34).

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Da Vinci's St. Anne, the Virgin and Child

When God planned to send his son to us in the fullness of time, he prepared a woman from her mother’s womb in order that she might be a tabernacle for his son. The son, Jesus, was born to a mother of flesh and blood. However, according to Christian tradition, Mary, the mother, was different from the rest of humanity because when her mother, Saint Anne, conceived her, God cleansed the seed in her womb so that the girl that was born was pure from the moment of her creation. This feast takes place nine months before Mary’s birthday, on September 8.

Happy feast!