- The Legion of Mary is open to all Catholics who:
- faithfully practise their religion;
- are animated by the desire to fulfil their role in the
church's apostolate through membership of the Legion;
- are prepared to fulfil each and every duty which active
membership of the Legion involves.
- Persons who wish to join the Legion must apply for
membership in a praesidium.
- Candidates under 18 years of age can only be received in
Junior praesidia. (See chp 36)
- 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.
- 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.
- A copy of the Tessera shall be given to every candidate.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- After this, the members resume their seats, the
Allocutio is given, and the meeting follows its ordinary course.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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."