SOLEMNITY OF THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY
I was surprised to discover this past winter that one of my favorite depictions of the Virgin Mary as the Immaculate Conception, by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, is held by the Cleveland Museum of Art. I was passing through the museum with my father when we stumbled upon the painting, majestically displayed in a grand gallery. I was more surprised when I realized that the painting dates to 1680, while the doctrine of Mary’s Immaculate Conception wasn’t formally defined by the Church until 1860. In fact, in 1604, King Felipe III required civil servants throughout his kingdom to swear an oath to defend the Immaculate Conception to the death. Not only is the Immaculate Conception patroness of Spain, but she is also patroness of the United States. May Our Lady guide our nation always!
Heavenly Father, we entrust the United States to the protection of Mary Immaculate. Guide our government and protect the Church in our land. In your mercy, grant us prosperity, justice, and peace. Amen.
Look up Murillo’s painting of the Immaculate Conception or another favorite depiction of the Virgin. Contemplate how the artist reveals Mary’s purity and tenderness.