The Legion of Mary (Latin: Legio Mariae, postnominal abbreviation L.O.M.) is an international association of members of the Catholic Church who serve it on a voluntary basis. It was founded in Dublin, as a Marian movement by the layman and civil servant Frank Duff.
Membership is open to those who belong to the Catholic Church and believe in its teaching. Its stated mission is for active members to serve God under the banner of Mary by the corporal and spiritual works of Mercy, as mentioned in Chapter 33 of the Legion of Mary Handbook. The main apostolate of the Legion is activities directed towards Catholics and non-Catholics encouraging them in their faith or inviting them to become Catholic. This is usually done by encouraging them in prayer, attending Mass and learning more about the Catholic faith. The members of the Legion are engaged primarily in the performance of spiritual works of mercy, rather than works of material aid.
The object of the Legion of Mary is the glory of God through the holiness of its members developed by prayer and active co-operation in Mary’s and the Church’s work. The unit of the Legion of Mary is called a praesidium, which holds a weekly meeting, where prayer is intermingled with reports and discussion. Persons who wish to join the Legion must apply for membership in a Praesidium. The Legion sees as its priority the spiritual and social welfare of each individual. The members participate in the life of the parish through visitation of families, the sick, both in their homes and in hospitals and through collaboration in every apostolic and missionary undertaking sponsored by the parish. Every legionary is required to carry out a weekly apostolic work in the spirit of faith and in union with Mary.
Drawing its inspiration from the True Devotion to Mary, as taught by St. Louis Marie de Montfort, and which had a profound influence on the Founder of the Legion, the Servant of God, Frank Duff, the Legion is at the disposal of the Bishops and Priests for use in the mission of the Church. While essentially a lay association, legionaries look for spiritual and apostolic formation to priests and religious, who, as Legion Spiritual Directors, hold an honored place in the Legion system. The Legion requires ecclesiastical approval to work in a diocese or parish. Loyalty to the Magisterium and to Ecclesiastical Authority is a basic legionary principle. The Legion aims to bring Mary to the world as the infallible means of winning the world to Jesus and legionary service is based on the doctrine of the Mystical Body of Christ so that in their fellow members and in those they serve, legionaries seek to have the Person of our Lord once again seen and served by Mary, his Mother.
The basic unit of the Legion is called a praesidium, which is normally based in a parish. A parish may have more than one praesidium. To be an active legionary it is necessary to apply for membership in a praesidium, which holds a weekly meeting and allocates a weekly apostolic task to the members, who generally work in pairs. After a successful period of probation, members are called to make the Legionary Promise (this is only applicable for members over 18 years) which is directed to the Holy Spirit. Realizing the necessity for a strong support of prayer, the Legion has Auxiliary members, who associate themselves with the Legion by undertaking a service of prayer in its name. The administration of the Legion is carried out through its various councils at local, regional and national level. The central council, the Concilium Legionis Mariae, meets monthly in Dublin.
About Alfie Lambe
The Servant of God, Alphonsus Lambe, (known as Alfie) was born in Tullamore, Ireland on the feast of St. John the Baptist, Friday, 24th June 1932, during the International Eucharistic Congress in Dublin.
Like St. John he was a precursor - the precursor of the Legion of Mary, which Pope Paul VI described as “the greatest movement which has been established for the good of souls since the era of the great religious orders”. After spending a period of his youth in the novitiate of the Irish Christian Brothers, which he had to leave because of delicate health, he found his vocation in the Legion of Mary, and was appointed Envoy in 1953. With Seamus Grace, he left for Bogota, Columbia on the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel 16th July of that year.
For almost six years he worked ceaselessly in promoting the Legion of Mary in Columbia, Argentina, Ecuador, Uruguay and Brazil. After a short but grave illness he died in Buenos Aires on the feast of St. Agnes, 21st January 1959.
God had bestowed on him great natural gifts, a personality which attracted souls to the service and love of God, an infectious enthusiasm, and a facility for learning languages, which enabled him to rapidly attain fluency in Spanish and Portuguese.
During his years in South America he set up a great number of branches of the Legion of Mary, and trained a multitude in the apostolate of the Legion. His devotion to Mary was outstanding, and in contacts with Legionaries and others he explained and urged the practice of the True Devotion to Our Lady.
He is buried in the vault of the Irish Christian Brothers, in the Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires.
On the 17th January 2020 the Ordinary Congress of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints has appointed Mons. Brosel Gavila José Jaime as Relator for the Cause of Alfie Lambe.
Work on the Positio will now commence under his guidance.
Prayers for the Beatification of Servant of God Alfie Lambe
O God, who by your infinite mercy inflamed the heart of your servant, Alphonsus Lambe with an ardent love for you and for Mary, our Mother; a love which revealed itself in a life of intense labour, prayer and sacrifice for the salvation of souls, grant, if it be your will, that we may obtain, by his intercession, what we cannot obtain by our own merits. We ask this through Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen
(With ecclesiastical approval)
About Edel Quinn
One day in 1937 a Dutch priest was driving an Irish girl to a Legion of Mary meeting some miles from his mission in Africa. They came to a river in such flood that the bridge across it could not even be seen. He was about to turn back when the girl cried out, “Oh Father, please go on, I’m sure Our Lady will protect us”. He was aghast but found he couldn’t resist such faith. Some men standing by formed a human chain to see if the bridge was still there.
It was, so he drove on blindly. The water flooded the engine and plugs but the impetus carried the car across and up an incline at the far side. He dried the plugs and tried the starter. The car got going and they were in time for the meeting. The girl was Edel Quinn and the incident typical of her story. In 1936 she had been sent from Dublin to establish the Legion in East and Central Africa. The difficulties were enormous but she met every challenge with unwavering faith and courage. When others faltered her invariable response was, “Why can’t we trust Our Lady?” or “Our Lady will see after things”. For nearly eight years, her health steadily declining, she worked over the vast territories committed to her. Hundreds of Legion praesidia and many higher councils were set up on an enduring basis. As a result, thousands of Africans are engaged in the Church’s work of evangelization.
At the source of all Edel’s activity was her deep union with God, sustained by constant prayer. The Eucharist was the centre of her life: “What a desolation life would be without the Eucharist”, she wrote. Her devotion to Mary was marked by childlike trust and utter generosity. She said she could never refuse Our Lady anything she thought she wanted. Mary’s rosary seemed to be always in her hand.
Edel died in Nairobi on May 12, 1944. In 1957 the Archbishop of Nairobi initiated the process for her Beatification and many witnesses were examined, monoly in Africa and Ireland. Their evidence, published by the Holy See, points not only to outstanding holiness but to holiness in its most attractive form. The words love, joy, peace appear in almost every testimony. The Vicar General of Mauritius was speaking for many when he said “I want to lay special emphasis on her constant joy; she was always smiling; she never complained; she was always at people’s disposal, never stinting her time”.
It is for the Holy See to pass judgement on her heroic sanctity. In the meantime, hundreds of Bishops have written to the Holy Father in support of the Cause, most of them, it is understood, stressing its special relevance for the young people of our time. Edel, in the words of a Spanish Cardinal, was “an image of the eternal youth of the Church”.
On December 15, 1994 Pope John Paul II declared Edel Quinn “Venerable”. One miracle attributed to her intercession is still required for her Beatification.
Prayers for the Beatification of Venerable Edel Quinn
Eternal Father, I thank you for the grace you gave to your servant, Edel Quinn, of striving to live always in the joy of your presence, for the radiant charity infused into her heart by your Holy Spirit and for the strength she drew from the Bread of Life to labour until death for the glory of Your name in loving dependence on Mary, Mother of the Church.
Confident, O Merciful Father, that her life was pleasing to you, I beg you to grant me, through her intercession, the special favour I now implore ..........., and to make known by miracles the glory she enjoys in Heaven, so that she may be glorified also by your Church on earth, through Christ Our Lord, Amen
(With ecclesiastical approval)
About Frank Duff
Founder of the Legion of Mary, Frank Duff was born in Dublin, Ireland, on June 7, 1889. He entered the Civil Service at the age of 18. At 24 he joined the Society of St. Vincent de Paul where he was led to a deeper commitment to his Catholic faith and at the same time he acquired a great sensitivity to the needs of the poor and underprivileged.
Along with a group of Catholic women and Fr. Michael Toher, Dublin Archdiocese, he formed the first praesidium of the Legion of Mary on September 7, 1921. From that date until his death, November 7, 1980, he guided the world-wide extension of the Legion with heroic dedication. He attended the Second Vatican Council as a lay observer.
His profound insights into the role of the Blessed Virgin in the plan of Redemption, as also into the role of the lay faithful in the mission of the Church, are reflected in the Legion Handbook which is almost entirely his composition.
Prayers for the Beatification of Servant of God Frank Duff
God our Father, You inspired your servant Frank Duff with a profound insight into the mystery of Your Church, the Body of Christ, and of the place of Mary the Mother of Jesus in this mystery. In his immense desire to share this insight with others and in filial dependence on Mary he formed her Legion to be a sign of her maternal love for the world and a means of enlisting all her children in the Church’s evangelizing work.
We thank you Father for the graces conferred on him and for the benefits accruing to the Church from his courageous and shining faith. With confidence we beg You that through his intercession you grant the petition we lay before You . ............... We ask too that if it be in accordance with Your will, the holiness of his life may be acknowledged by the Church for the glory of your Name, through Christ Our Lord, Amen.
(With ecclesiastical approval)
Download a short pamphlet on promoting the cause of Frank Duff, click below: