The Immaculate Reception Monument

By Adam Cippel

December 2019

Pittsburgh is home to an abundance of different cultures. On the North Shore, there is a monument in which all people of the city can stand behind: the Immaculate Reception Monument. The Immaculate Reception was the result of an unexpected catch by now Steeler legend, Franco Harris. The phrase is a pun in regard to the birth of Virgin Mary, “The Immaculate Conception.” This play was a “birth” of success in its own right. After Harris caught the ball, he ran it in to score a touchdown in dramatic fashion with only seconds remaining. The victory clinched their first playoff win in history and was a turning point for the franchise. Prior to the catch, the team experienced forty years without a playoff win. Following the play, the Steelers went on to win four super bowls in just seven years. Now, they are one of the most storied franchises in the league. The monument pays tribute to the play and symbolizes the birth of success. It is a stone structure with a bronze plaque built into the face. The engraving on the plaque is Franco Harris running into the end-zone, while underneath is the description of the play and the reference to cultural impact it had.

With the modernization of God, sports as religion has emerged as a thought-provoking topic. Traditionally, religion was established to bring people together and establish a sense of community in the group. In that community, people congregate in a church and practice their beliefs. Through the power of sport, parallels can be seen. Steeler Nation experiences the same community feeling with shared belief in the team. Their church may be the stadium, a bar, their own home, or wherever they take part in watching the Steelers. The Immaculate Reception Monument holds a deeper meaning than just one play. It embodies the legacy of success and the sacred bond between team and fan.

Further Reading

 “The Immaculate Reception.” Pro Football Hall of Fame Official Site, 1 Jan. 2005,

“Pittsburgh Steelers Team History: Pro Football Hall of Fame Official Site.” Pro Football Hall of Fame,

How to Cite

MLA: Cippel, Adam. “The Immaculate Reception.” ReligYinz: Mapping Religious Pittsburgh, University of Pittsburgh, Dec. 2019,

APA: Cippel, A. (2019, December). The immaculate reception. ReligYinz: Mapping Religious Pittsburgh, University of Pittsburgh.

Chicago: Cippel, Adam. “The Immaculate Reception.” ReligYinz: Mapping Religious Pittsburgh. University of Pittsburgh, December 2019.