Taylor Marshal writes on the “journey” of the Feast of the Immaculate
Conception from Syria to Rome his canturbury tales blog.
The Church in Syria began to celebrate a feast in honor of
the Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the fifth century. The
assigned date for this feast was December 9th. This should come as no
surprise since some of the most beautiful verses about the sinlessness of
Mary come from Saint Ephrem the Syrian (d. 373).
By the 600s, the
Eastern Churches were observing December 9th as the “Conception of the
Theotokos.” Saint John Damascene is a witness to this tradition.
veneration for the liturgical feast of the Immaculate Conception was
celebrated by these Greeks in Southern Italy. However, in the tenth
century, the Normans began to rule southern Italy, northern Gaul, and
From the Southern Italian Greeks, the Normans received a
veneration for the Blessed Virgin Mary and for her Immaculate Conception.
This devotion spread to northern France and to Britain.
the Conqueror (Norman) conquered Britain, he re-established the British
hierarchy and clergy with Normans and Norman sympathizers. For example,
King William established Lanfranc, a Norman Abbot, as Archbishop of
Canterbury. Lanfranc and his successor Anselm were adherents to the
Immaculate Conception. They seem to have established the feast of the
Conception of Mary here in England long before Rome began to celebrate in
the 15th century. Even then, it took a Franciscan Pope under the influence
of John Duns Scotus (i.e. Pope Sixtus IV) to establish the feast of Our
Lady’s Conception in Rome.
As an avid Ephrem fan, I had
to highlight this. Someone posted a quote of his honoring the Immaculate
Conception, or the Conception of the Theotokos without stain.