Not only people but also countries have patron saints. “Who is the patron saint of the United States ?” I wondered one day. Discovering this question I found out why the largest church and hundreds of churches in the United States have been named after the Immaculate Conception. Because Mary under her title of Immaculate Conception is the patroness of the United States.
Blessed Holy Mary of the Immaculate Conception – the Patron Saint of the United States
Holy Mary of the Immaculate Conception (Santa Maria de la Inmaculada Concepcion) was the full name of a ship that carried Christopher Columbus to what we call the United States. Centuries later, the country was consecrated to the Blessed Virgin Mary with Pope Pius IX’s approval.
What name of Mary did they choose for this? Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. The Virgin Mary was named patroness of the United States’ first diocese, Baltimore, in 1791. In 1854 Pope Pius IX declared the Immaculate Conception as a major Catholic teaching.
Since then, there has been confusion among many about the meaning of this teaching. Many people think the Immaculate Conception refers to Jesus. This is not true.
The teaching of the Immaculate Conception
The teaching of the Immaculate Conception states that Catholics believe by faith that Mary, not Jesus, was conceived by the married love of St. Anne and St. Joachim but protected by God’s grace from the wound of original sin.
Jesus was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit in Mary’s womb. As the Son of God, He could not be born into sin. Because Mary was a human being like you and me, she could be born into original sin. The teaching states, however, that God’s grace protected her from this stain.
There is evidence in the Bible to support this teaching
In Genesis 3:15, God tells the serpent “I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your offspring and hers.” This suggests that long before her conception God had intended to separate a woman and her child from the devil and those born into original sin. God intended for the conception of a woman who would be untouched by the devil, so she could bear a child who would also be untouched.
We’ve long understood the woman to be Mary and her child to be Jesus. God planned this well before Mary’s conception. She was freed from the wound of original sin only by God’s grace because, like us, she needed a Savior.
God’s favor with Mary is also suggested in the angel Gabriel’s announcement that she was to give birth by the power of the Holy Spirit. He says to her “Hail full of grace, the Lord is with you.” This greeting suggests that God had desired before this moment to endow Mary with special graces not given to anyone else. This is suggested again as Mary visits Elizabeth and when she humbly cites her own need of a Savior in her Magnificat (Canticle of Mary). Such humility is only possessed through great faith.
It is fitting, as our faith is attacked by the secular world and misguided Christians, that the United States is consecrated to Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. Because of this, we have hope that, by God’s grace, the head of the serpent will one day be crushed and the devil’s influence on God’s children will come to an end.
O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you!
I welcome any comment you may wish to make.