Roman Catholics around the world observe the annual feast of the Immaculate Conception today – but many of them, and countless non-Catholics, mistakenly believe that the occasion is a celebration of the virgin conception of Jesus.
Rather, the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception is the belief that the Blessed Virgin Mary was conceived in the womb of her mother, St. Anne, without original sin. (By the way, the Catholic Church holds that Mary’s conception was otherwise achieved in the usual way. Her father was St. Joachim.)
I attended Catholic schools for more than 12 years in the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s, but I was almost 30 years old before my (ahem) misconception about the Immaculate Conception was corrected.
I ran across the truth in some book in 1972, wheupon I checked other sources and even called a priest I knew, who verified it. When I asked him why the nuns and priests hadn’t made the situation clear to us as kids, he didn’t have an answer. He only said his experience as a child in Catholic schools had been the same.