Ubi primum (Pius IX, 1849)

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Ubi primum is an encyclical of Pope Pius IX to the bishops of the Catholic Church asking them for opinion on the definition of a dogma on the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary. It is an important mariological document which defined Mary as the Mediatrix of salvation. It was issued on February 2, 1849

In the 19th century, the veneration of the Immaculata increased in several countries especially France and the United States, where all Catholic bishops petitioned Pope Pius IX in 1846 to declare the Immaculate Virgin to be the Patron for the United States of America. Regarding a possible dogma, Pius IX created a commission of theologians and a commission of cardinals for consideration.[1] The encylical Ubi primum seeks the opinions of the bishops on the same question.

We eagerly desire, furthermore, that, as soon as possible, you apprise Us concerning the devotion which animates your clergy and your people regarding the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin and how ardently glows the desire that this doctrine be defined by the Apostolic See. And especially, Venerable Brethren, We wish to know what you yourselves, in your wise judgment, think and desire on this matter.[2]

This approach was quoted by Pope Pius XII in 1946, when in Deiparae Virginis Mariae, he inquired from the bishops about a possible dogma of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary:

But, while paternally exhorting you to do this, thus following the example of Our Predecessors, and particularly that of Pius IX when about to define the dogma of the Mother of God's Immaculate Conception, we earnestly beg you to inform us about the devotion of your clergy and people (taking into account their faith and piety) toward the Assumption of the most Blessed Virgin Mary.[3]

The positive response to Ubi primum led to the 1854 bull Ineffabilis Deus, which defined the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. The definition of 1854 was immunity from original sin, assuming Mary’s redemption by Christ.[4] Later, Popes Pius X and Pius XII elaborated on this special privilege and Mary’s perfect redemption by Christ, in the encyclicals Ad diem illum and Fulgens corona. These two encyclicals are therefore vital for an understanding of Ubi primum and Ineffabilis Deus.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Josef Schmidlin, Papstegeschichte der neuesten Zeit, München 1934
  2. ^ Pope Pius IX, "Ubi primum", February 2, 1849, PapalEncyclicals.net
  3. ^ Deiparae Virginis Mariae 4
  4. ^ Fulgens Corona 8-15

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