Original sin and actual (personal) sin
The defined dogma of the Immaculate Conception regards original sin only, saying that Mary was preserved from any stain (in Latin, macula or labes, the second of these two synonymous words being the one used in the formal definition).
 The proclaimed
Roman Catholic dogma states, "that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin."
 Therefore, being always free from original sin, the doctrine teaches that from her conception Mary received the
sanctifying grace that would normally come with baptism after birth.
The definition makes no declaration about the Church's belief that the Blessed Virgin was sinless in the sense of freedom from actual or personal sin.
 However, the Church holds that Mary was also sinless personally, "free from all sin, original or personal".
Council of Trent decreed: "If anyone shall say that a man once justified can sin no more, nor lose grace, and that therefore he who falls and sins was never truly justified; or, on the contrary, that throughout his whole life he can avoid all sins even venial sins, except by a special privilege of God, as the Church holds in regard to the Blessed Virgin: let him be anathema."
The doctrine of the immaculate conception (Mary being conceived free from original sin) is not to be confused with the
virginal conception of her son Jesus. This misunderstanding of the term immaculate conception is frequently met in the mass media. Catholics believe that Mary was conceived of both parents
 traditionally known by the names of
Saint Joachim and
Saint Anne. In 1677, the
Holy See condemned the error of Imperiali who taught that St. Anne in the conception and birth of Mary remained virgin which had been a belief surfacing occasionally since the 4th century.
 The Church celebrates the
Feast of the Immaculate Conception (when Mary was conceived free from original sin) on 8 December, exactly nine months before celebrating the
Nativity of Mary. The feast of the
Annunciation (which commemorates the virginal conception and the
Incarnation of Jesus) is celebrated on 25 March, nine months before
Another misunderstanding is that, by her immaculate conception, Mary did not need a saviour. When defining the dogma in Ineffabilis Deus,
Luke 1:47, Mary proclaims: "My spirit has rejoiced in God my Saviour." This is referred to as Mary's pre-redemption by Christ. Since the
Second Council of Orange against
semi-pelagianism, the Catholic Church has taught that even had man never sinned in the
Garden of Eden and was sinless, he would still require God's grace to remain sinless.