THE LEGION PICTURE
- This handbook bears a reproduction of the Legion Picture.
The original was painted by a brilliant young Dublin artist as an
offering to the Legion. As might be expected from work animated by this
spirit, the picture is one of extreme beauty and inspiration, which is
caught even by the small reproduction.
- The picture is a most complete, in fact an astonishing
showing forth of the devotional outlook of the Legion.
- The legionary prayers are made visible. The invocation and
prayer of the Holy Spirit and the Rosary, which comprise the opening
prayers, are pictured by the Dove overshadowing Mary, filling her with
light and the fire of his love. In these prayers the Legion honours the
moment which is the centre-point of all time. Mary's consent to the
Incarnation made her alike Mother of God and Mother of Divine Grace; so
her legionary children bind themselves to her with her Rosary, taking
to heart the words of Pope Pius IX: "I could conquer the world if I had
an army to say the Rosary."
Again, there is allusion to Pentecost, where Mary was the channel of
that other outpouring of the Holy Spirit which may be called the
Confirmation of the Church. With visible signs he promulgated the
Church, filling it with the apostolic fire which was to renew the face
of the earth. "It was her most powerful intercession that obtained for
the new-born Church that prodigious outpouring of the Spirit of the
divine redeemer" (MC 110). Without her, that fire would not be
enkindled in the hearts of men.
- The Catena is represented, as to its name, by the
chain-border. Truly befitting the antiphon is the portrayal of Mary,
coming forth as the morning rising, fair as the moon, bright as the
sun, terrible as an army set in battle array. On her brow she bears a
brilliant star, to mark her who is the true Morning Star, bathed from
the first in the beams of redeeming grace and heralding the dawn of
The Magnificat is represented by its opening verse, the ever-present
thought of Mary's mind, appropriately set in letters of fire above her
head. The Magnificat sings of the triumph of her humility. It is no
less now than then the will of God to depend upon the humble Virgin of
Nazareth for his conquests. By the agency of those united with her, he
continues to accomplish great things for his name.
The versicle and response are those of the Immaculate Conception, a
primary devotion of the Legion, which is expressed in the crushing of
the serpent. The words set in the border:
"I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your
offspring and hers; he will strike your head." (Gen 3:15) have the same
reference. The picture shows this undying warfare: Mary and the
serpent; her children and the serpent's offspring; the Legion and the
powers of evil, which fall back scattered in defeat.
The Catena prayer is that of Mary, Mediatrix of All Graces, Mother of
God and Mother of all men.
At the top of the picture is the Holy Spirit the giver of all good
gifts: below, the globe surrounded by the good and the bad, typifying
the world of souls: between the two, Mary full of grace, all aflame
with charity, the universal channel of intercession and distribution.
But first she will enrich those truest children who, like St. John,
have rested on the Heart of Jesus and have lovingly accepted her as
mother. The words in the border:
"Woman, here is your son . . . Here is your mother." (Jn 19:26-27)
point to the manifestation, amid the inconceivable sorrows of Calvary,
of that motherhood.
- The concluding prayers are mirrored in every line of the
picture. The Legion is depicted as a host innumerable, advancing in
battle-array under the leadership of its Queen and bearing her
standards, "the crucifix in their right hands, the Rosary in their
left, the sacred names of Jesus and Mary in their hearts and the
modesty and mortification of Jesus Christ in their behaviour" (St.
Louis-Marie de Montfort). Their prayer is for a faith which will
supernaturalise every instinct and action of their lives, and enable
them to dare and do all things for Christ the King. That faith is
represented by the Pillar of Fire which melts all legionary hearts into
one, and guides them on to victory and to the Land of Eternal Promise,
casting abroad as it proceeds the life-giving flames of divine love.
The pillar is Mary who saved the world by her faith "Blessed is she who
believed." (Lk 1:45),
in the border) and who now, through encircling gloom, leads on
unerringly those who call her blessed, until the everlasting splendour
of the Lord God come upon them.
- The prayers end with a pointing from the legionary labours
to that roll-call of eternity, when the faithful legionaries will
muster shoulder to shoulder, not a single one missing, to receive the
incorruptible crown of their membership.
In the meantime: a prayer for those for whom the conflict has ceased
and who await the glorious Resurrection, and who may need their