And Mary said: My soul doth magnify the Lord

I have always been a little confounded as to how to understand this verse. Specifically, what it meant that her soul magnifies the Lord. I came across this commentary in the Catena Aurea which I thought was really good explanation.

Origen’s is a pretty satisfying explanation for me, but does anyone have other explanations they like for what this verse means?

Lk 1:46‘And Mary said: My soul doth magnify the Lord.’

“Now if the Lord could neither receive increase or decrease, what is this that Mary speaks of, My soul doth magnify (magnificat) the Lord? But if I consider that the Lord our Saviour is the image of the invisible God, and that the soul is created according to His image, so as to be an image of an image, then I shall see plainly, that as after the manner of those who are accustomed to paint images, each one of us forming his soul after the image of Christ, makes it great or little, base or noble, after the likeness of the original; so when I have made my soul great in thought, word, and deed, the image of God is made great, and the Lord Himself, whose image it is, is magnified in my soul.”
- Origen Adamantius of Alexandria (A.D. 184 - 253)

1 Samuel 2

1 My heart hath rejoiced in the Lord, and my horn is exalted in my God: my mouth is enlarged over my enemies: because I have joyed in thy salvation.


Magnify just means praise, there can be more theologically rich explanations, but this is the plain meaning.

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And this is where the ICET translation really allows the meaning to shine through

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord.”

Like it or not, despise it or not, but this phrasing is a precise meaning of the term “Magnificat.”


An old (old being a relative term) Dominican version of the Magnificat began, “My soul glorifies God…” In addition to clarity for me, there was a beautiful chant melody with it.

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Thank you everyone for your insightful comments!

It is useful to research biblical terms by going to an English-Greek interlinear bible. At , it shows that the word magnify in the original Greek was Megalynei which translates “to make or declare great”. It also mentions that it is used only once in the bible.

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