In a sermon many years ago a priest (now dead) quoted a phrase from St Augustine :

God was drawn down from heaven by the weight of his love.

I realise that this is a translation from Latin & translations vary, but Augustine's Latin corpus presents an enormous task to check. I have searched in translations of The City of God, the Confessions, the Enchiridion and other works but have never come across anything resembling this phrase. Does anyone know where it is to be, or might be, found ?

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    You might have more luck on Latin SE or Christianity SE.
    – TheHonRose
    Jun 24, 2018 at 23:27
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    If it happened many years ago, how are you sure you're recalling the priest's phrase correctly? Do you have a separate source? Augustine described love as a weight, and characterised Adam & Eve's dismissal from Eden as the result of their "weight". This might be a garbled version of the two.
    – Semaphore
    Jun 25, 2018 at 5:07
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    @Semaphore. A fair comment. I think I retain my faculties sufficiently to recall what was said, particularly since the image made such an impact at the time. I think you may well be right, however, and that something might have been amiss with the quote. It may have been garbled or an image thought suitable to express Augustine's mind. That's indeed helpful - thanks indeed for your reply.
    – Geoffrey Thomas
    Jun 25, 2018 at 6:20
  • @Geoffrey Thomas With the help of a friend I think I found the source in Augustine's Marriage and Virginity. I have updated my answer below with the relevant quote. Jun 25, 2018 at 23:11
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    @TheHonRose. Thank you for recommending that I try a different site. It worked. I much appreciate. Jun 26, 2018 at 7:59

1 Answer 1


The problem with references to church fathers is that they get paraphrased from time to time. Sometimes you will just have to look in Augustine for similar terminology and see if you can find the concept alluded to.

That being said this seems the closest citation I've encountered to how you worded it, in Augustine's Marriage and Virginity from the Works of Saint Augustine (Vol. 9 Part 1):

You will not be going to the one who did not dare to raise his eyes to heaven because of the burden of his sinfulness, but to the one who came down from heaven under the weight of his love

Or an alternate rendering:

Thou shall not go unto him, who dared not by reason of the burden of unrighteousness to lift up his eyes to heaven, but unto Him, Who by the weight of charity came down from heaven

You may see the text here.

In general it seems that Augustine in several of his writings associates love with weight:

For the specific gravity of bodies is, as it were, their love, whether they are carried downwards by their weight, or upwards by their levity. For the body is borne by its gravity, as the spirit by love, wherever it is borne. (City of God 11.28)

There is also a prolonged quote in his book Confessions book 13 chapter 9 where at one point he talks about being carried upward to God by such a weight:

My weight is my love. By it I am carried wherever I am carried. By thy gift, we are enkindled and are carried upward. We burn inwardly and move forward. We ascend thy ladder which is in our heart, and we sing a canticle of degrees...

An attempt to explain this Augustinian concept of weight in simple terms may be found here. For a scholarly source perhaps see "‘Pondus meum amor meus’: The Weight-Metaphor in St. Augustine’s Early Philosophy" which I saw cited in footnotes in a few scholarly works that turned up from searches.

I hope this is what you were looking for.

  • Glad to help. I also learned something new in the process of looking into this, so I enjoyed it. Jun 26, 2018 at 14:05

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