Many Christians, particularly those of Catholic faith, in the United States observe the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on or around December 8.
What do people do?
Many churches, especially the Catholic Church, in the United States hold special services (or masses) to commemorate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on or close to December 8. The feast focuses on the concept that the Virgin Mary was conceived without sin. Many churches that observe the Feast of the Immaculate Conception are busy preparing for it prior to its occurrence.
The Feast of the Immaculate Conception is a legal holiday in Guam, known as Our Lady of Camarin Day, commemorating a small wooden statue known as Our Lady of Camarin (Santa Marian Kamalen). The statue is found in the Agana Cathedral Basilica. It has been tradition since the early 1900s for the statue to be taken down, groomed and placed on a cart, which is then pulled into Hagåtña, Guam’s capital. This statue leads a procession, in which people pray in various languages to honor Jesus through his mother Mary.
The Feast of the Immaculate Conception is a public holiday in Guam, which is an unincorporated territory of the United States. However, this event is not a nationwide public holiday in the United States.
The Feast of the Immaculate Conception centers on the belief that Jesus’ mother, the Virgin Mary, was conceived without sin. Pope Pius IX issued an apostolic constitution, known as the Ineffabilis Deus, on December 8, 1854. This document clarified the importance of the Immaculate Conception in the Catholic Church. This day is a public holiday in Guam. A law in Guam attempted to eliminate this holiday for locals in 2002 but this attempt did not succeed due to public pressure. Typhoon Pongsona struck Guam on the feast day on December 8 that year.
Various paintings, statues and other forms of artwork have been made depicting the Immaculate Conception. They usually show Mary as a young woman dressed in white and blue. She is often standing on a hill or raised area and has a halo of stars around her head. The pieces of art may also include images of clouds, golden lights, cherubs, lilies or roses.
One well-known example associated with the Immaculate Conception is a statue known as Our Lady of Camarin (Santa Marian Kamalen), which was found on the shores of Merizo in Guam more than 300 years ago. The statue’s hands and face are made of ivory and the jewel-studded crown sits atop a cap of natural hair. It has survived earthquakes, fires, typhoons and World War II. The statue was stolen in 1968, 1971, and 1992 but was successfully retrieved.