PIUS XII 1939-1958

The Holy Spirit as the Soul of the Church*

[From the same Encyclical, “Mystici Corporis,” June 29, 1943]


2288 If we closely examine this divine principle of life and virtue given by Christ, insofar as He established it as the source of every gift and created grace, we easily understand that this is nothing else than the Paraclete, the Spirit, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, and who in a special manner is called “the Spirit of Christ,” or “the Spirit of the Son” [Rom. 8:9; 2 Cor. 3:17; Gal. 4:6]. For by this Breath of grace and truth did the Son of God anoint His soul in the uncontaminated womb of the Virgin; this Spirit holds it a delight to dwell in the beloved soul of the Redeemer as in His most beloved temple; this Spirit, Christ by shedding His own blood merited for us on the Cross; this Spirit, finally, when He breathed upon the apostles, He bestowed on the Church for the remission of sins [cf. John 20:22 ]; and, while Christ alone received this Spirit according to no measure [cf. John 3:34], yet to the members of the mystical body He is imparted only according to the measure of the giving of Christ, out of Christ’s own fullness [cf. Ep h. 1:8; 4:7]. And after Christ was glorified on the Cross, His Spirit is communicated to the Church in the richest effusion, that she and her individual members may more and more daily become like our Savior. It is the Spirit of Christ that has made us God’s adopted sons [cf.Rom. 8:14-17; Gal. 4:6-7], that someday “we all beholding the glory of God with open face may be transformed into the the same image from glory to glory” [ 2 Cor. 3:18].


Moreover, to this Spirit of Christ as to no visible principle is this also to be attributed, that all parts of the Body are joined to one another as they are with their exalted head; for He is entire in the Head, entire in the Body, entire in the individual members, and with these He is present, and these He assists in various ways, according to their various duties and offices, according to the greater or less degree of spiritual health which they enjoy. He is the one who by His heavenly grace is to be held as the principle of every vital and in fact every salutary act in all the parts of any body. He is the one who, although He Himself is present of Himself in all members, and is divinely active in the same, yet in the inferior members also operates through the ministry of the higher members; finally, He is the one who, while He always day by day produces the growth of the Church by imparting grace, yet refuses to dwell through sanctifying grace in members wholly cut off from the Body. Indeed, the presence and activity of the Spirit of Jesus Christ are succinctly and vigorously expressed by Our most wise predecessor, Leo XIII, of immortal memory in the Encyclical, “Divinum illud,” in these words: “Let it suffice to state this, that, as Christ is the Head of the Church, the Holy Spirit is her soul.”*


Denzinger Menu