Pope Pius IX—who, in Ineffabilis Deus, defined the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, that Mary was conceived without Original Sin—cites:
- Luke 1:28 ("Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women."), 42 ("Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb."):
When the Fathers and writers of the Church meditated on the fact that the most Blessed Virgin was, in the name and by order of God himself, proclaimed full of grace22 by the Angel Gabriel when he announced her most sublime dignity of Mother of God, they thought that this singular and solemn salutation, never heard before, showed that the Mother of God is the seat of all divine graces and is adorned with all gifts of the Holy Spirit. To them Mary is an almost infinite treasury, an inexhaustible abyss of these gifts, to such an extent that she was never subject to the curse and was, together with her Son, the only partaker of perpetual benediction. Hence she was worthy to hear Elizabeth, inspired by the Holy Spirit, exclaim: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.”23
22. Luke 1:28
23. Luke 1:42
- Genesis 3:15 ("I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she* shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel."), the Protoevangelium (Proto-Gospel):
Explicit Affirmation . . .*"She shall crush": Ipsa, the woman; so divers of the fathers read this place, conformably to the Latin: others read it ipsum, viz., the seed. The sense is the same: for it is by her seed, Jesus Christ, that the woman crushes the serpent's head.
As if these splendid eulogies and tributes were not sufficient, the Fathers proclaimed with particular and definite statements that when one treats of sin, the holy Virgin Mary is not even to be mentioned; for to her more grace was given than was necessary to conquer sin completely.24 They also declared that the most glorious Virgin was Reparatrix of the first parents, the giver of life to posterity; that she was chosen before the ages, prepared for himself by the Most High, foretold by God when he said to the serpent, “I will put enmities between you and the woman.”25-unmistakable evidence that she was crushed the poisonous head of the serpent. And hence they affirmed that the Blessed Virgin was, through grace, entirely free from every stain of sin, and from all corruption of body, soul and mind; that she was always united with God and joined to him by an eternal covenant; that she was never in darkness but always in light; and that, therefore, she was entirely a fit habitation for Christ, not because of the state of her body, but because of her original grace.
24. Cf. St. Augustine: De Natura et Gratia, c. 36 [=42].
25. Genesis 3:15