History remembered during Feast of the Immaculate Conception
Mass was recently held at St Mary’s Cathedral to celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. The feast celebrates the conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, free from original sin, in the womb of her mother, Saint Anne. Photo: Rachel Curry
By Rachel Curry
An early summer scorcher and technical difficulties did not deter some 400 people from attending Mass to celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception at St Mary’s Cathedral last week.
Often confused with the Virgin Birth, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception celebrates the conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, free from original sin, in the womb of her mother, Saint Anne.
The occasion is particularly significant for Perth's Catholic community, as 'St Mary's Cathedral' formerly known as the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.
Church dogma teaches that Mary was preserved from the stain of original sin by the grace of God, in view of the merits of her son, Jesus.
The Dean of St Mary’s Cathedral, Monsignor Michael Keating, speaks about the history of the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception during his homily. Photo: Rachel Curry
Taking place shortly after midday on Thursday, 8 December, the Mass was celebrated by the Dean of St Mary’s Cathedral, Monsignor Michael Keating, who had to contend with a warm summer’s day as well as a malfunctioning microphone.
It didn’t discourage him however, as he joked at the start of his homily that Jesus did not need a microphone to preach the Gospel.
Mgr Keating drew the attention of the congregation to the history of the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, which was dogmatically defined by Pope Pius IX in 1854.
“It was only very recently made dogma of the Catholic Church, but it has been a belief of the Church for a long, long time, so much so that is also a belief of Muslims,” he said.
Mgr Keating added that it was only four years after Pope Pius’s definition that the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to 14-year-old Bernadette Soubirous, who would later become a saint, at Lourdes and said, “I am the Immaculate Conception.”
About 400 people attended Mass to celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception at St Mary’s Cathedral on Thursday, 8 December. Photo: Rachel Curry
St Bernadette did not know about the dogma at the time, making the apparition all the more remarkable.
Mgr Keating went on to speak about the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary to St Catherine Laboure in Paris in 1830.
He finished his homily by noting that the Feast of the Immaculate Conception is celebrated exactly nine months before the Feast of the Nativity of Mary, which celebrates Our Lady’s birth.
“So let us plead before Our Lady for our own petition: for peace in our world…and for our own nation,” he said.
The Feast of the Immaculate Conception was a holy day of obligation in Australia prior to 2001, when the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference decreed that only Christmas Day, the Feast of the Assumption and all Sundays should be observed as holy days.