Legion of Mary  |  Legion of Mary Handbook


  1. The Legion of Mary is open to all Catholics who:
    1. faithfully practise their religion;
    2. are animated by the desire to fulfil their role in the church's apostolate through membership of the Legion;
    3. are prepared to fulfil each and every duty which active membership of the Legion involves.
  2. Persons who wish to join the Legion must apply for membership in a praesidium.
  3. Candidates under 18 years of age can only be received in Junior praesidia. (See chp 36)
  4. No one shall be admitted as a candidate for membership of the Legion of Mary until the President of the praesidium, to which admission is sought, is after careful enquiry satisfied that the person seeking admission fulfils the conditions required.
  5. A satisfactory probation of at least three months is required before the candidate can be enrolled in the ranks of the legionaries, but from the first the candidate can participate fully in the works of the Legion.
  6. A copy of the Tessera shall be given to every candidate.
  7. Formal admission consists essentially in the Legionary Promise, and the entry of the name of the candidate on the membership roll of the praesidium. The wording of the Legionary Promise is given in chp 15. It is set out in a form which will facilitate reading.
    Mgr. Montini (later Pope Paul VI), writing on behalf of Pope Pius XII, stated: "This Apostolic and Marian Promise has strengthened the legionaries in their Christian warfare throughout the world, especially those who are suffering persecution for the faith."
    A commentary on the Promise, "The Theology of the Apostolate," has been written by Cardinal L. J. Suenens and published in various languages. This invaluable work should be in the hands of every legionary. Likewise it should be read by every responsible Catholic, for it contains a remarkable exposition of the principles which govern the Christian apostolate.
    1. When the period of probation is judged to have been satisfactorily completed, the candidate is given at least a week's notice of reception. During that week the candidate should seek to become familiar with the words and the ideas of the Promise, so that at the actual reception it will be read with facility,understanding and earnestness.
    2. Then at an ordinary meeting of the praesidium, immediately after the recitation of the Catena, all the members still remaining standing, the vexillum is moved near to the candidate, who then takes in the left hand a copy of the Promise and reads it aloud, supplying his own name in the proper place. When beginning the reading of the third paragraph of the Promise, the candidate places the right hand upon the staff of the vexillum, and keeps it there till the reading of the Promise is completed. After which, the blessing of the priest (if he is present) is given to the new legionary. The latter's name is then entered on the membership roll.
    3. After this, the members resume their seats, the Allocutio is given, and the meeting follows its ordinary course.
    4. If the vexillum is not yet in the possession of the praesidium, the candidate should instead hold a pictorial representation of it. The Tessera will serve.
  8. Once the candidate is deemed qualified, there should be no delay in taking the Promise. Two or more candidates may be received simultaneously. But this is not desirable. The greater the number of those received at the one time, the less solemn the ceremony becomes for each of them.
  9. The ceremony of reception may constitute an ordeal for specially sensitive persons. But such are really favoured, inasmuch as the ceremony possesses for them a particular solemnity and seriousness which will have its effect upon their subsequent membership.
  10. The duty of welcoming candidates, instructing them in their duties, and fostering them through their probation period and afterwards, is allocated in a special manner to the Vice-President; but this is a duty in which all should take a part.
  11. If a candidate for some reason does not wish to take the Promise, his probation may be extended for a further period of three months. The praesidium has the right to postpone the Promise until it is sure of the suitability of the candidate. Similarly it is only fair that the candidate be given ample opportunity of making up his mind. But at the end of that supplementary period the candidate must either take the Promise without mental reservation or leave the praesidium.
    If a member, after having taken the Promise, subsequently rejects it in his mind, he is in honour bound to leave the Legion.
    The probation and the Promise are the gateway of the Legion. That gateway must not lie negligently open for unsuitable material to enter in, to lower standards and to dilute spirit.
  12. The Spiritual Director is under no obligation to take the Promise. But it would be legitimate and pleasing and an honour to the praesidium for him to do so.
  13. The Promise should be reserved for its own proper purpose. It shall not be used as an Act of Consecration at the Acies or other functions. But of course it may be used, as desired, by legionaries in their private devotions.
  14. Absences from the praesidium should be viewed with a right degree of sympathy for the circumstances which are responsible. Names should not be lightly removed from the roll, especially where sickness is in question, even though it is likely to be long-continued. But when a membership is deemed to have been discontinued and the name has been formally removed from the roll, there is required for renewal a further probation and the re-taking of the Promise.
  15. For the purposes of the work of the Legion, but only for those purposes, members are addressed by the title of "Brother" or "Sister" as the case may be.
  16. Members may be grouped in men's, women's, boys', girls', or mixed praesidia, as the needs suggest, and as approved by the Curia.
    The Legion came into existence as an organisation of women, and eight years passed before the first men's praesidium was established. Yet it forms an equally suitable basis for the organisation of men, and now there are in operation men's praesidia and mixed praesidia in great numbers. The first praesidia in the Americas, in Africa, and in China were of men.
Though women have thus the place of honour in the organisation, the masculine pronoun is used throughout these pages to designate the legionary of either sex. It avoids a tiresome repetition of the phrase "he or she."

"The Church was founded to spread the kingdom of Christ over all the earth for the glory of God the Father, to make all men partakers in redemption and salvation and through them to establish the right relationship of the entire world to Christ. Every activity of the Mystical Body with this in view goes by the name of "apostolate"; the Church exercises it through all its members, though in various ways. In fact, the Christian vocation is, of its nature, a vocation to the apostolate as well. In the organism of a living body no member plays a purely passive part, sharing in the life of the body it shares at the same time in its activity. The same is true for the Body of Christ, the Church: 'the whole Body achieves full growth in dependence on the full functioning of each part.' (Eph 4:16) Between the members of this body there exists, further, such a unity and solidarity (cf Eph 4:16) that a member who does not work at the growth of the body to the extent of his possibilities must be considered useless both to the Church and to himself." (AA 2)