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What does the word “magnificat” mean?

THE VISITATION

Domenico Ghirlandaio | CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Philip Kosloski - published on 05/02/22

Magnificat is the Latin word for "magnify," and is the beginning of Mary's canticle in the Gospel of Luke.

When praying the Liturgy of the Hours, many editions will entitle the Canticle of Mary from St. Luke’s Gospel the Magnificat.

What does “magnificat” mean?

Magnificat is the Latin word for “magnify,” and is the first word in the Latin translation of Mary’s Canticle in the Gospel of Luke (cf. Luke 1:46–55).

It begins with the words, “Magnificat anima mea Dominum,” which in English is translated as, “My soul magnifies the Lord.”

In other translations it starts as, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord.”

This word has also become the name of a popular monthly publication, named simply, Magnificat. The name recalls the words of Mary to “magnify” the Lord.

The Latin word is meant to be a succinct summary of Mary’s words to Elizabeth at the Visitation and recalls Mary’s desire to always “magnify” God in everything she did.

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