My Soul Magnifies The Lord by Origen

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Origen offers a very interesting application to the Virgin Mary’s praise: “My Soul Magnifies the Lord” (Lk 1:46), and it is sung in Western and Eastern churches as The Magnificat or Ode of the Theotokos.

“Two facilities, the soul and the spirit, express twofold praise. The soul celebrates the Lord while the spirit praises God; not that praising the Lord is different from praising God, since the One who is God is also the Lord, and the One who is the Lord is also God.  

We ask ourselves how the soul could magnify the Lord. For if the Lord can not be subject either to growth or to diminution being who he is, why does Mary now say, “My soul magnified the Lord?”

If I consider that the Lord and the saviour is “the image of the invisible god” (Col 1:15), and if I see that my soul is made “in the image (since my soul is not, properly speaking, the image of God but has been formed unto the likeness of the original image),  then I will be able to comprehend the matter by putting it in these terms: Just as painters of images, after choosing (for example) the face of a king, apply their artistic ability to copying a unique model, in the same way, each of us, by transforming our own soul into the image of Christ, reproduces an image of Him, smaller or larger, sometimes hidden and dirty, but sometimes shining and luminous and corresponding to the original model. 

Therefore, when I have enlarged the image of the image, that is to say, my soul, and have magnified it in my deeds, thoughts, and words, then the image of God becomes larger, and the Lord Himself, whose image is my soul, is magnified in that soul. And as the Lord grows in our image, so, if we are sinners, he diminished and decreases. 

Precisely speaking, the Lord neither diminishes nor decreases. It is we who, instead of putting on the image of the Saviour, clothe ourselves in other images. In place of the image of the Word, of wisdom, of justice, and all the other virtues, we put on the likeness of the devil, so much so that we can be called “serpents, brood of vipers” (Mt 23:33). We also put on the costume of lions, dragons and wolves when we become cruel, venomous, wily; and even assume the likeness of a goat or pig when we are too inclined to sensual pleasures. 

I remember saying one day, while explaining the passage from Deuteronomy where it is written, “Do not make any image of a man or a woman, nor an image of any living thing” (Dt 4:16-17), that according to the “spiritual law” (Rom 7:14), some form themselves after the image of a man, others into a woman, others resemble birds, reptiles, and serpents; still others resemble God. If you read this explanation, you will understand how these words are to be understood. 

Now, first Mary’s soul magnifies the Lord, and then, her spirit rejoices in God. Unless we first believe, we will not be able to rejoice.”

Origen , Homilies on Luke 8, 1-4; PG 13,1820-21

If you are interested in more quotes on Virgin Mary, you can find them in Mary and the Fathers of the Church on Amazon in both in Kindle and paperback formats.


Gambero, L., 1999. Mary and the Fathers of the Church 1st ed. Translated by Buffer, T., San Francisco: Ignatius Press.

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