We have been preparing for today's Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception here at the Oxford Oratory with the usual Novena in church - I have managed to attend most days, but not, alas, all - and had Solemn Vespers and Benediction yesterday evening. This evening there will be a Solemn Mass. Not only is the Oratory under the patronage of the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady but also the Archdiocese of Birmingham, so it has a double significance for us.
There is a useful account of the historical development of this dogma here.
The Immaculate Conception
by José Claudio Antolinez (1635-1675)
Image: Catholicism Pure and Simple blog
There is another version of this painting by Antolinez at The Bowes Museum in Barnard Castle, and is quite breath-taking to see.
Deep night hath come down on this rough-spoken world
And the banners of darkness are boldly unfurled;
And the tempest-tossed Church - all her eyes are on thee,
They look to thy shining, Sweet Star of the Sea.