Legion of Mary  |  Legion of Mary Handbook


The duty of periodically bringing together the members of the Legion in any district in order that they may know each other and that the spirit of unity may be fostered, is imposed upon each Curia.
The following are the functions of the Legion.


Bearing in mind the importance of devotion to Mary in the Legion system, each year there shall be a consecration of legionaries to Our Lady. The consecration - which shall comprise both an individual and a collective consecration - will take place on the 25 March or on a day close thereto, and will be known as the Acies. This Latin word, meaning as it does an army ranged in battle array, is appropriate to a ceremony in which the legionaries as a body assemble to renew their fealty to Mary, Queen of the Legion, and from her to receive strength and blessing for yet another year's battle with the forces of evil. Moreover, the word is in effective contrast with praesidium, which contemplates the Legion, no longer drawn up in united array, but split up into its various sections, each engaged in its own particular sphere of duty.
The Acies is the great central annual function of the Legion, so that it is necessary to stress the importance of attendance on the part of every member. The essential idea of the Legion, upon which all else is built, is that of working in union with and in dependence on Mary, its Queen. The Acies is the solemn expression of that union and dependence, the renewal-individual and collective-of the legionary declaration of fealty. Hence it is manifest that any legionaries who can attend, and yet fail to do so, have little or none of the spirit of the Legion in them. The membership of such persons is not an asset to the Legion.
The following is the procedure:-
On the day fixed for the ceremony, the legionaries shall assemble - if possible in a church. At a convenient spot is placed a statue of the Immaculate Conception, suitably decorated with flowers and candles. In front of the statue will stand a large-size replica of the Legion vexillum, which is described in chapter 27.
The proceedings commence with a hymn, followed by the opening prayers of the Legion including the Rosary. An address by a priest on the significance of the consecration to Our Lady follows. Then the procession towards the statue begins. The Spiritual Directors go first in single file. Then the legionaries, also singly, except in the case of great numbers when they may advance in pairs. On reaching the vexillum, each one (or each pair) pauses; then, placing the hand upon the staff of the vexillum, he repeats vocally, as an individual act of consecration, the following words: "I am all yours, my Queen, my Mother, and all that I have is yours." This done, the vexillum is relinquished, the legionary bows slightly and passes on. If the number of legionaries is large, the making of the individual act of consecration will occupy some time, but the impressiveness of the ceremony will gain rather than lose by that fact. It will help if an organ be played during the procession of the legionaries to and from the statue.
It would not be in order to use more than one vexillum. Such expedient would shorten the proceedings, but it would destroy their unity. Moreover, the note of haste would be discordant. The special characteristic of the Acies should be its order and dignity.
When all legionaries have resumed their places, an act of consecration to Our Lady is said aloud by the priest on behalf of all present. Following this, the Catena is recited, all present standing. Then follows, if at all possible, Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament; after which the concluding prayers of the Legion are recited, a hymn is sung, and the Acies terminates. It would be in order, of course, to have Holy Mass celebrated on the occasion of the Acies, in place of the Benediction, the other details of the ceremony remaining the same. The Celebration of the Paschal Mystery would absorb into itself and present to the Eternal Father, through the "one Mediator" and in the Holy Spirit, all the consecrations and spiritual offerings which are placed in the maternal hands of "the generous associate and humble handmaid of the Lord." (LG 61)
The above formula of consecration: "I am all yours, etc." should not be mechanically or thoughtlessly pronounced. Each one should compress into it the fullest degree of understanding and gratitude. As a help towards this, he should study A Marian Synthesis, appendix 11. This endeavours to set forth the unique part played by Mary in
salvation, and accordingly the extent of each one's debt to her. Perhaps the Synthesis could be made the subject of the spiritual reading and of the Allocutio at a praesidium meeting shortly before the Acies. It is suggested that it be also used as the collective act of consecration at the ceremony itself.

"Mary is an object of terror to the powers of hell. She is 'terrible as an army set in battle array' (Song 6:3), for, like a wise Commander, she well knows how to dispose her power, her mercy, and her prayers for the confusion of the enemy and for the benefit of her servants." (St. Alphonsus Liguori)


At a time as near as possible to the feast of the Immaculate Conception a reunion of all the members shall be held. If desired, this may begin with a church celebration.
There follows a social evening. If not already recited at a church function, the full Legion prayers are to be said, divided into three parts as at a meeting.
It is better to confine this programme to the contributions of legionaries. In addition to lighter items, there should be some addresses or papers of legionary interest.
It will surely be unnecessary to remind legionaries that formality must find no place there. This is to be specially guarded against where many legionaries are participating. It must be the object to make all those present know each other better. Therefore, the programme should afford opportunity for movement and conversation. Those in charge should contrive that the members do not keep together in parties and thus frustrate the main purpose of the function, which is the fostering of the spirit of unity and affection in the Legion family.

"Joyousness lent a sweet charm to the spiritual knighthood of St. Francis. As a genuine Knight of Christ, Francis was inexpressibly happy to serve his Liege, to follow him in poverty and to be like unto him in suffering; and this blissful happiness in the service, the imitation, and the suffering of Christ he announced as knightly Minstrel and Troubadour of God to the whole world. Francis' entire life was attuned to this basic note of joy. With imperturbable calmness, and cheerfulness of mind he sang to himself and to God songs of joy in his heart. His ceaseless endeavour was to keep himself interiorly and exteriorly in a joyous mood. In the intimate circle of his brothers he likewise knew how to sound the pure key-note of joyfulness, and to make it swell to such full harmony that they felt themselves raised to an almost heavenly atmosphere. The same joyful note pervaded the converse of the Saint with his fellow-men. Even his sermons in spite of their burden of penance became hymns of gladness, and his mere appearance was an occasion of festive joy for all classes of people." (Felder: The Ideals of St. Francis of Assisi)


The holding of this function dates back to the earliest days of the Legion. It is not obligatory, but it is recommended. It may take the form of an excursion, pilgrimage, or outdoor function. As determined by the Curia, this may be either a Curia or a praesidium function. In the latter event, two or more praesidia may combine for the function.


It is strongly recommended that each praesidium will hold a social function about the feast of the Nativity of Our Lady. In centres where there are many praesidia, several praesidia may, if they desire, combine to hold such a festival.
Suitable persons, who are not legionaries, may be invited to attend, with a view to inducing them to undertake membership.
It is recommended that the full Legion prayers (including the rosary) be said, divided into three parts as at a praesidium meeting. The time thus taken from the social part of the evening does not amount to many minutes, but this tribute to Our Lady will be more than repaid by the enhanced success of the function. The Queen of the Legion is the "Cause of Our Joy," and she will reply by making the occasion one of special happiness.

Interspersed among the musical items should be at least one short Legion talk. All will, thereby, learn a little more about the Legion, and incidentally the programme will be diversified. Mere entertainment tends to pall.


The first Legion Congress was held by the Clare (Ireland) Curia on Easter Sunday, 1939. Its success led to imitation, as success always does, and now that feature has been firmly grafted into the Legion system.
A Congress should be confined to a Comitium or a Curia. Assemblies on a wider basis would not be in line with the primary conception of a Congress and would not produce the intended fruits. Therefore, the name of Congress should not be applied to those assemblies, if held; nor should they be regarded as substituting for a Congress. But visitors from other areas may be invited to a Congress.
The Concilium has ruled that an area should not hold a Congress more often than every second year. A whole day should be devoted to the function. The availability of a Religious house will solve many of the problems. If possible, the proceedings should begin with Mass, followed by a short address by the Spiritual Director or other priest, and should terminate with Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament.
The day is divided into sessions, each session having its subject or subjects. Each subject should be very briefly opened up by someone who will have previously prepared his contribution. All should take some part in the discussions. This general participation forms the very life of the Congress.
Again it is emphasised that presiding officers are not to talk much nor to intervene constantly in the discussions. Congresses, like council meetings, are to be run on the parliamentary method, that is, on lines of universal participation regulated from the chair. Some chairpersons show a tendency to comment on the utterance of every speaker. This is the opposite idea to the Congress idea, and it should not be tolerated.
The assistance of some representatives of a higher governing body would be desirable. These could perform some of the special duties, for example, presiding, inaugurating discussions, etc.
Any striving after oratorical effect is to be avoided, for it would create an air of unreality. That is not the Legion climate; in it no one will be inspired, no problem will be solved.
Sometimes all the legionaries are brought to the Congress, sometimes only the officers of praesidia. In the former case it would be allowable at the first session to divide the legionaries according to their different offices, the ordinary members being in one body. Then the special duties and needs of each would be considered. Or alternatively, the legionaries could be divided according to the works on which they are engaged. But such dividing up is optional, and in any case the subsequent sessions should not be subdivided. It would be inconsistent to bring the members together and then keep them separated for most of the time. It is to be noted that the duty of officers has a wider scope than the routine functions belonging to each office. A Secretary, for instance, whose official horizon was bounded by his minute book would indeed be a defective officer. As all the officers are members of the Curia, their session must investigate methods of perfecting the working of the Curia, both in regard to its actual meetings and its general administration.
A Congress must not amount merely to a Curia meeting, occupying itself with the same administrative details and queries that would fall to be dealt with at the Curia. It should apply itself to the fundamentals. But of course all the lessons learned at the Congress should be put into force by the Curia.
The subjects to be dealt with should concern the main principles of the Legion, broadly:-
  1. The devotional system of the Legion. The Legion is not understood unless its many-sided devotional aspect is to some reasonable extent grasped by the members; and the Legion is not being properly worked unless that devotion be linked to the active work so intimately as to be its motive and its spirit; in other words, the devotion must animate the whole work as the soul animates the body.
  2. The legionary qualities, and how they are to be developed.
  3. The methodical system of the Legion, including the conducting of the meetings and the vital matter of the members' reports, that is, the manner of giving them and of commenting on them.
  4. The Legion works, including the improvement of methods and the planning of those new works which will enable the Legion to reach out to every person.
An item of the Congress should be a special Talk, by some Spiritual Director or legionary qualified to give it, on some aspect of legionary devotion, idealism, or duty.
Each session should begin and close with prayer. The Legion prayers will provide for three of those occasions.
Careful timekeeping and stewarding is imperative. Failure in this department will ruin the day.
There must be diversification as between successive Congresses in the same area. Only a limited number of topics can be covered at a single Congress, whereas it is necessary that over a period of years much new ground be ploughed up. Secondly, there must never be a sense of standing still. Therefore change for the very sake of change must be sought. Thirdly, the success of a particular Congress naturally suggests that the same programme be adhered to on the next occasion. But part of that success was certainly due to the element of novelty, and this is spent by the first production. If novelty is to figure as a stimulating ingredient in each new Congress, the event must be preceded by ingenious planning.
"If we wish to know in what manner the faithful soul is to be prepared for the coming of the divine Paraclete, let us go in thought to the Cenacle where the disciples have come together. There, according to the order of the Master, they are persevering in prayer as they await the Power from on high that is to come on them and clothe them as with armour for the warfare which lies before them. In that sacred abode of recollection and peace our reverential eye rests on Mary, the Mother of Jesus, the masterpiece of the Holy Spirit, the Church of the living God. From her by the action of the same Holy Spirit will issue, as from the womb of a mother, the Church Militant, which this new Eve represents and still contains within her." (Guéranger: The Liturgical Year)