The Catholic feast day of the Immaculate Conception marks the conception of the Virgin Mary by her mother Saint Anne. Catholics believe the conception was ‘immaculate’ because of God’s intervention that absolved Mary of original sin. God did this knowing that she would give birth to Jesus Christ. Many Christians celebrated the event since the early seventh century however in 1854, Pope Pius IX officially declared December 8th as a holy day in 1854 by Pope Pius IX.
In Rome, the rituals for the day start at 7:30 AM with the fire service members placing a wreath on the arm of the statue of the blessed virgin which stands atop the column in St. Peters Square. It is done in memory of the firefighters who helped erect the statue. This is followed by a special Mass, and Angelus led the pope, who lays a wreath at the foot of the 12-meter tall known as the Column of the Immaculate Conception. It is topped by the statue of the Madonna.