In Piazza Mignanelli, a stone's throw from the Spanish Steps, stands the Colonna dell' Immacolata (Column of the Immaculate Conception), which was dedicated on December 8th, 1857, to mark the passing of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, which had been proclaimed, three years earlier, in 1854. The papal bull Ineffabilis Deus of Pope Pius IX (r. 1846-78) stated that the Virgin Mary had been conceived free from the stain of original sin.
The monument was designed by Luigi Poletti and the bronze statue, which stands atop an ancient Roman column, is the work of Giuseppe Obici. The Virgin Mary, with her crown of twelve stars, crushes a serpent (symbol of original sin) under her foot. At the base of the globe on which she stands are symbols of the four evangelists.
At the foot of the column sit four marble statues. They depict the four Hebrew figures (David by Adam Tadolini, Isaiah by Salvatore Revelli, Ezekiel by Carlo Chelli and Moses by Ignazio Jacometti), all of whom, Christians believe, foretold the virgin's birth.
Each year, on December 8th, the pope in person celebrates a very special event at the column. A wreath, which has received a papal blessing, is placed on the Virgin's right arm by a member of Rome's fire brigade, who ascends to the top of the column by means of a fire-ladder. The old wreath is duly removed at the same time.
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