SIXTUS IV 1471-1484


The Immaculate Conception of the B.V.M. *


[From the Constitution “Cum praeexcelsa,” Feb. 28, 1476]


734 While in an examination of devout deliberation we are thoroughly investigating the distinguished marks of merit, by which the Queen of Heaven, the glorious Virgin Mother of God, is preferred to all in the heavenly courts; just as among the stars the morning star foretells the dawn, we consider it just, even a duty, that all the faithful of Christ for the miraculous conception of this immaculate Virgin, give praise and thanks to Almighty God (whose providence beholding from all eternity the humility of this same Virgin, to reconcile with its author human nature exposed to eternal death because of the fall of the first man, by the preparation of the Holy Spirit constituted her the habitation of His Only-begotten Son, from whom He took on the flesh of our mortality for the redemption of His people, and the Virgin remained immaculate even after childbirth), and therefore that they say Masses and other divine offices instituted in the Church of God, and that they attend them to ask by indulgences and by the remission of sins to become more worthy of divine grace by the merits of and by the intercession of this same Virgin.


[From the Constitution “Grave nimis,” Sept. 4, 1483]


735 Although the Holy Roman Church solemnly celebrates the public feast of the conception of the immaculate Mary ever Virgin, and has ordained a special and proper office for this feast, some preachers of different orders, as we have heard, in their sermons to the people in public throughout different cities and lands have not been ashamed to affirm up to this time, and daily cease not to affirm, that all those who hold orassert that the same glorious and immaculate mother of God was conceived without the stain of original sin, sin mortally, or that they are heretical’ who celebrate the office of this same immaculate conception, and that those who listen to the sermons of those who affirm that she was conceived without this sin, sin grievously. . . .


We reprove and condemn assertions of this kind as false and erroneous and far removed from the truth, and also by apostolic authority and the tenor of these present [letters] we condemn and disapprove on this point published books which contain it . . . [but these also we reprehend] who have dared to assert that those holding the contrary opinion, namely, that the glorious Virgin Mary was conceived with original sin are guilty of the crime of heresy and of mortal sin, since up to this time there has been no decision made by the Roman Church and the Apostolic See.