Novena in Preparation for the Immaculate Conception
December 6

The Immaculate Conception holds a special place in the history of Catholicism in the US. However the historical details remain somewhat unknown to many US Catholics. Father Marquette, the famed French explorer, placed his voyage down the Mississippi River under the protection of the Immaculate Virgin, and renamed the Indian village of Kaskasia, Immaculate Conception of Mary, and the Mississippi River, Conception River. This intrepid missionary-explorer even devised a chaplet of the Immaculate Conception.

Prior to this event some of the earliest American Catholic colonists, arriving on the shores of Maryland in 1634, consecrated the colony they were about to establish to the Immaculate Conception. The oldest church dedicated to the Immaculate Conception was built in 1666 in Quebec. Another church was built in honor of Mary’s Immaculate Conception on the Prairie de Magdalen in Louisiana in 1675. Mary has been venerated in the Americas ever since early colonial history. When Columbus sailed to this land in the Santa Maria, he named the second island he sighted Santa Maria de la Conception; the first he named San Salvador.

The American bishops at their sixth Provincial Council in Baltimore (1864) proclaimed Mary Immaculately Conceived as the Patroness of the US and requested the Holy Father to confirm this choice. In 1866, the American hierarchy petitioned Rome that the Feast of the Immaculate Conception be made a holy day of obligation in this country. This petition was granted two years later.

The Basilica of the Immaculate Conception was completed in 1959. The main altar, a solid block of golden onyx resting on Traventine marble, is called the Mary altar, and is a gift of those of our land whose name is Mary.

Immaculate Mother of God and Mother of the Church, grant to our homes the grace of loving and respecting life from conception until natural death.

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