Immaculate Conception: Early Celebration

Q: How did the early celebrations of Mary's Immaculate Conception begin?

A: Recently, a group of parishioners from the town of Villapando (Zamora), Spain, wrote to the Marian Library stating that their ancestors in the parish of San Nicolas had vowed themselves in the year 1466 to honor and defend the Immaculate Conception. The parish priest, Fr. A. Tomas Osorio sent a photocopy of the declaration of the text of the vow of 1466 together with the renewals of the vow in 1498 and 1527.

In 1466, thirteen representatives from Villapando and the surrounding villages, during a time of war and pestilence, pledged themselves to honor the Virgin Mary "without stain, without sin conceived in the womb of her mother St. Anne," asking Mary to protect the town and its surroundings. In return the feast of the Conception of Mary would be celebrated as a feast day preceded by a day of fasting and abstinence, celebrated with Mass, sermon, Vespers, and a dinner for twenty of the town's poor. This vow anticipated thirty-one years later a similar pledge made by the theological faculty of the Sorbonne (1497).

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