Legion of Mary  |  Legion of Mary Handbook


The Legion of Mary is an Association of Catholics who, with the sanction of the Church and under the powerful leadership of Mary Immaculate, Mediatrix of all Graces (who is fair as the moon, bright as the sun, and - to satan and his legionaries - terrible as an army set in battle array), have formed themselves into a Legion for service in the warfare which is perpetually waged by the Church against the world and its evil powers.
"The whole life of men, both individual and social, shows itself to be a struggle, and a dramatic one, between good and evil, between light and darkness." (GS 13)
The legionaries hope to render themselves worthy of their great heavenly Queen by their loyalty, their virtues, and their courage. The Legion of Mary is therefore organised on the model of an army, principally on that of the army of ancient Rome, the terminology of which is adopted also. But the army and the arms of legionaries of Mary are not of this world.
This army, now so considerable, had the most humble of beginnings. It was not a thought-out organisation. It sprang up spontaneously. There was no premeditation in regard to rules and practices. A suggestion was simply thrown out. An evening was fixed, and a little group came together, unaware that they were to be the instruments of most loving Providence.
To look at that meeting, it was identical with what would be seen to-day were one to attend a Legion meeting anywhere in the world. The table around which they met bore a simple altar, of which the centre was a statue of the Immaculate Conception (of the miraculous medal model). It stood on a white cloth, and was flanked by two vases with flowers, and two candlesticks with lighted candles. This setting, so rich in atmosphere, was the inspired notion of one of the earliest comers. It crystallised everything for which the Legion of Mary stands. The Legion is an army. Well, their Queen was there before they assembled. She stood waiting to receive the enrolments of those whom she knew were coming to her. They did not adopt her. She adopted them; and since then they have marched and fought with her, knowing that they would succeed and persevere just to the extent that they were united to her.
The first corporate act of those legionaries was to go on their knees. The earnest young heads were bent down. The invocation and prayer of the Holy Spirit were said; and then through the fingers which had, during the day, been toilsomely employed, slipped the beads of the simplest of all devotions. When the final ejaculations died away, they sat up, and under the auspices of Mary (as represented by her statue), they set themselves to the consideration of how they could best please God and make him loved in his world. From that discussion came forth the Legion of Mary, as it is today, in all its features.
What a wonder ! Who, contemplating those inconspicuous persons - so simply engaged - could in his wildest moments imagine what a destiny waited just a little along the road? Who among them could think that they were inaugurating a system which was to be a new world-force, possessing - if faithfully and forcefully administered - the power, in Mary, of imparting life and sweetness and hope to the nations? Yet so it was to be.
That first enrolment of legionaries of Mary took place at Myra House, Francis Street, Dublin, Ireland, at 8 p.m. on 7 September, 1921, the eve of the feast of Our Lady's Nativity. From the title of the parent branch, that is, Our Lady of Mercy, the organisation was for a time known as "The Association of Our Lady of Mercy."
Circumstances which one would regard as accidental determined this date, which seemed at the time less appropriate than the following day would have been. In after years only-when countless proofs of a truly maternal love had made one reflect-was it realised that not the least exquisite touch of Mary's hand had been shown in the moment of the Legion's birth. Of the evening and the morning was the first day made (Gen 1:5), and surely the first, and not the last fragrances of the feast which honours her own Nativity were appropriate to the first moments of an organisation, whose first and constant aim has been to reproduce in itself the likeness of Mary, thus best to magnify the Lord and bring him to men.

"Mary is the Mother of all the members of the Saviour, because by her charity she has co-operated in the birth of the faithful in the Church. Mary is the living mould of God, that is to say, it is in her alone that the God Man was naturally formed without losing a feature, so to speak, of His Godhead; and it is in her alone that man can be properly and in a life-like way
formed into God, so far as human nature is capable of this by the grace of Jesus Christ." (St. Augustine)

"The Legion of Mary presents the true face of the Catholic Church" (Pope John XXIII)