Legion of Mary  |  Legion of Mary Handbook


  1. 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.
  2. The picture is a most complete, in fact an astonishing showing forth of the devotional outlook of the Legion.
  3. 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.
  4. 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 salvation.
    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:
    "Inimicitias ponam inter te et mulierem et semen tuum et semen illius; ipsum conteret caput tuum". (Gen 3:15)

    "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:
    "Mulier, ecce filius tuus: . . . Ecce mater tua." (Jn 19:26-27)

    "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. 
  5. 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),
    "Beata quae credidit." (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.

  6. 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 comrades' supplication.

"In the Old Testament we read that the Lord conducted his people from Egypt to the land of promise, 'by day in a pillar of cloud and by night in a pillar of fire.' (Ex 13:21) This stupendous pillar, at one time of cloud and at another of fire, was a figure of Mary and of the various offices which she performs on our behalf." (St. Alphonsus Liguori)