The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, a holy day of obligation in the United States. celebrates the beautiful dogma that Mary, "in the first instance of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace granted by God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved exempt from all stain of original sin."
The words were spoken with great love as they fell from the lips of Pope Pius IX in 1854, affirming as a matter of faith the belief in the Immaculate Conception of Mary.
The belief in Our Lady's Immaculate Conception, a belief held by St. Francis in the 13th century, had been the result of a long debate among theologians. It was the Franciscan Doctors who fought to see that the truth would ultimately prevail:
"From Scotus down through Francis of Brescia, whom, our Franciscan Pope Sixtus IV, gave the title "Fortissimus Samson" after a brilliant exposition of the doctrine of the immaculate conception, in his presence and in the presence of all the members of the Roman Curia, and until the definition of the Dogma by Blessed Pius IX in 1854, many others among our more renowned Franciscan theologians became heralds and defenders of the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception as formulated by John Scotus" (full article).
On this beautiful Solemnity of our Mother and the Queen of the Friars Minor, we present a reflection given by the Capuchin Doctor of the Church, St. Lawrence of Brindisi, on this very topic:
"Great was the happiness of human nature in paradise before original sin, so long as man remained in the state of innocence and original justice. Then was human nature like that tree seen by King Nabuchodonosor in his dreams: tall, with its top touching heaven; wide, with its branches filling the whole world; adorned with the loveliest fronds and flowers and the best of fruits in greatest abundance. But soon, by virtue of the sentence executed by the Angel, this tree was despoiled of its goods, and, with branches and trunk cut off, was reduced to nothing....(read full reflection)."