Feast Of The Immaculate Conception Photos: See Celebrations And Pilgrimages Dedicated To The Virgin Mary From All Around The World

The Feast of the Immaculate Conception is a very sacred day in the Catholic religion. The feast day, which is designated by the Catholic Church as a holy day of obligation celebrates Mary’s creation without sin. The Feast of the Immaculate Conception signifies an important point of Catholic teaching beginning with who or what the Immaculate Conception refers to, while the popular belief is that the term refers to Jesus’ conception by the Virgin Mary, it actually does not. According to the teaching of the Catholic Church, the Immaculate Conception refers to the special way in which the Virgin Mary herself was conceived, Mary was conceived in her mother’s womb free from original sin. Though normally confused with the virgin birth of Jesus, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception celebrates Mary’s creation by normal biological means, however God acted upon her soul, keeping her immaculate at the time of her conception. It was first solemnized as a holy day of obligation in December of 1708 by Pope Clement XI, meaning that on this day the faithful are obliged to participate in the Mass. However, many faithful express their devotion and honor the Virgin Mary by also making pilgrimages. Every year, hundreds of thousands of Christians make the pilgrimage to churches, walking for miles to reach shrines of the Virgin Mary, with some of them even doing the pilgrimage barefoot or on their knees, this act of devotion celebrates the Feast of the Immaculate Conception and pays homage to the Virgin with their penances. Also at the Vatican, the Pope attends an Immaculate Conception celebration, due to the holy day serving as a main liturgical feast, Pope Francis recites the Angelus Domini prayer. In addition to the Angel of the Lord prayer, for 2014 the Pope delivered a brief reflection and issued greetings to the pilgrims who had gathered to hear his words in St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City. 

 
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A pilgrim holding candles crawls outside the Church of the Virgen de lo Vasquez after completing his pilgrimage on the outskirts of Valparaiso City. Reuters

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A nun blesses pilgrims inside the Church of Virgen de lo Vasquez on the outskirts of Valparaiso City. Reuters

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Pilgrims place candles outside the Church of the Virgen de lo Vasquez after completing their pilgrimage on the outskirts of Valparaiso City. Reuters

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Melted candle wax is seen on the marble plates on a wall outside the Church of the Virgen de lo Vasquez in Valparaiso City. Reuters

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Visitors admire a walk-though scale model of a typical Maltese church dedicated to the Annunciation in Fgura, outside Valletta. Measuring 24 feet by 14 feet, the 1:6 scale model comes complete with a painted ceiling, a choir, an organ balcony, "marble" slabs and even a sacristy, were built entirely by Maltese enthusiast Simon Mercieca and a group of friends over the past 24 years. The model has been adorned according to the liturgical feast of the Immaculate Conception, which falls on December 8. Reuters

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Dancers perform outside the Church of Virgen de lo Vasquez during the start of the celebrations and preparations for the great pilgrimage to Virgen de Lo Vasquez in Valparaiso city, about 58 miles northwest of Santiago. Reuters

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Children dressed as angels take part in the Virgen de la Inmaculada Concepcion (Virgin of the Immaculate Conception) celebrations at Lirquen town. Reuters

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Pilgrims carry an effigy of the Virgen de la Inmaculada Concepcion (Virgin of the Immaculate Conception) at Lirquen town, some 310 miles south of Santiago. Reuters

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Pilgrims make their way to the Church of Virgen de lo Vasquez on the outskirts of Valparaiso City, about 58 miles northwest of Santiago. Every year, hundreds of thousands of Christians make the pilgrimage to the sanctuary, walking for up to 32 miles to reach the shrine, with some of them covering the final miles barefoot or on their knees, to celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception and to pay homage to the Virgin with their penances. Reuters

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Dancers perform the "Diablada", or Dance of the Devils, outside the Church of Virgen de lo Vasquez during the start of the celebrations and preparations for the great pilgrimage to Virgen de Lo Vasquez in Valparaiso city, about 58 miles northwest of Santiago. Reuters

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Donovan Longo

Donovan Longo, staff reporter, joined the Latin Times team in February 2013 and has quickly become our resident pop culture expert. As a native New Yorker and Fordham University alumni, Donovan has always had her finger on the cultural pulse and is here to get you in the know.  As a follower of Donovan’s writing you will undoubtedly win a game of thrones, survive a zombie apocalypse, fall in love with a vampire and outsmart the CIA.