Today is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, one of the great solemnities of the Roman Catholic Church. But there is significant popular misunderstanding of the theology. Many people—even some Catholics—don't understand that it refers to the immaculate conception of Mary, not Jesus.
Christian theology includes the concept of "Original Sin," which is basically the "fall from grace" that all humans experienced as a result of Adam & Eve's decision to break with God (in Genesis). It is an inherited state which, Christians believe, can be rectified with baptism. Roman Catholics believe that baptism is the essential, redeeming sacrament through which people are "born again" into a life with Christ.
In 1854, Pope Pius IX declared that Mary was conceived without original sin. In other words, Mary, the mother of Jesus, was conceived immaculately (in the womb of her mother, Saint Anne) by the intervention and grace of God. Mary had been selected by God for a remarkable task—the human birth of Jesus—and He was creating her to be pure, an immaculate vessel for an incomparable assignment. Thus, the Church teaches, Mary was born without original sin.
Protestants and Orthodox Christians argued that Pius's "extra-Biblical" pronouncement was without scriptural basis—simply papal overreach and a "Roman Novelty." Nevertheless, the sinless nature of Mary had been part of Christian theology from the Fourth Century (and she was declared to be free of personal, Earthly sin at the Council of Trent, 1545-1563).
The West German Modernist "Holy Family" sculpture, pictured above, was made of terra-cotta in the 1960's or 1970's. Click on the photo above to learn more about it.
Though our Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed, LEO Design is still alive and well! Please visit our on-line store where we continue to sell Handsome Gifts (www.LEOdesignNYC.com).
We also can be found in Pittsburgh's historic "Strip District" at Mahla & Co. Antiques (www.mahlaantiques.com) or in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania at The Antique Center of Strabane (www.antiquecenterofstrabane.com).
Or call to arrange to visit our Pittsburgh showroom (by private appointment only). 917-446-4248