HISTORY OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
From The Renaissance To The French Revolution
(d) The Immaculate Conception.
Passaglia, /De Immaculat. Concept. B.V.M./, 3 vols., 1855.
Strozzi, /Controversia dell' Immacolata Concezione/, 1700.
Roskovany, /De Beata Virgine in suo conceptu immaculata/, 1873-92.
Le Bachelet, /L'Immac. Conc./, 1903. Bishop, /The Origins of the
Feast of the Conception of B.V.M./, 1904. Ullathorne, /The
Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God/, 1904.
From the days of Dons Scotus the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception
was received very generally by the universities and theologians. The
Dominicans, feeling themselves called upon to support the views of St.
Thomas, who argued against the Immaculate Conception as understood in
his own time, opposed the common teaching. The question was brought
before the schismatical assembly at Basle (1439), where it was defined
that the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin was in harmony
with reason and Scripture, and should be approved and accepted by all
Christians. This teaching was confirmed by several provincial synods
in France and Germany, as well as by many of the universities. Paris
and Cologne, for example, obliged all their members to swear to defend
the doctrine. Sixtus IV. bestowed indulgences on those who would
observe the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (1476), but although
favouring the doctrine he forbade the defenders or opponents to charge
each other with heresy (1483). When in the discussions on Original Sin
at the Council of Trent the subject was raised, no formal decision was
given because the Fathers were determined to direct all their
attention to the doctrines that had been rejected by the Reformers. At
the same time the opinion of the Fathers was expressed clearly enough,
since they declared that in their decrees regarding the universality
of Original Sin they did not mean to include the Immaculate Virgin
Mary (V. Sess. 1546). Pius V. condemned a proposition of Baius, in
which it was laid down that Christ alone escaped the guilt of Original
Sin, and that the Blessed Virgin suffered death on account of the
guilt she contracted by her descent from Adam (1567). A Spanish
Franciscan, Francis of Santiago, having claimed that he had a vision
in support of the doctrine, a sharp controversy broke out in Spain, to
end which Philip III. besought the Pope to give a definitive decision.
Paul V. contented himself, however, with renewing the decrees of his
predecessors Sixtus IV. and Pius V. forbidding charges of heresy to be
bandied about by the disputants (1616), but in the following year he
forbade any public defence of the theses directed against the doctrine
of the Immaculate Conception. Gregory XV. though unwilling to yield to
the request of the Spanish Court for a formal definition, prohibited
either public or private opposition to the doctrine unless in case of
those who had received special authorisation from the Holy See.
Finally in 1661 Alexander VII. in the constitution, /Sollicitudo
omnium Ecclesiarum/, explained the true meaning of the doctrine, and
forbade any further opposition to what he declared to be the common
and pious belief of the Church.