Legion of Mary  |  Legion of Mary Handbook



In the Legion's prayers, St. Joseph's name follows the invocations to the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, as he ranks next to them in the Court of Heaven. He was head of the Holy Family, fulfilling in regard to Jesus and Mary a primary and altogether special part. The same - no more, no less - this greatest of saints continues to render to the Mystical Body of Jesus and its Mother. The existence and activity of the Church, and therefore of the Legion, are sustained by Him. His care is unfailing, vital, possessed of parental intimacy; is second only in influence to the mothering of Mary, and is to be so appreciated by the Legion. If his love is to be potent in us, we must open ourselves fully to it by a behaviour which reflects the intense devotion which he lavishes on us. Jesus and Mary were ever mindful of him and grateful to him for all he did for them. Similarly legionaries must be attentive to him in a constant sort of way.
The Solemnity of St. Joseph, husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary occurs on 19 March.

The memorial of St. Joseph the Worker, occurs on 1 May.

"We cannot dissociate the historical life of Jesus from his mystical life continuing in the Church. It is not without reason that the Popes have proclaimed St. Joseph protector of the Church. His task has remained ever the same amid changing times and ways. As protector of the Church of Christ, he does no less than carry on his earthly mission. Since the days of Nazareth, God's family has grown and spread to the ends of the earth. Joseph's heart has expanded to the dimension of his new fatherhood, which prolongs and surpasses the paternity promised by God to Abraham, the father of a myriad. God does not vary in his dealings with us; there are no second thoughts, no arbitrary changes to His plan. All is one, ordered, consistent and continuous. Joseph, the foster-father of Jesus, is likewise foster-father to the brethren of Jesus, that is, to all Christians through the ages. Joseph, the spouse of Mary who brought forth Jesus, remains mysteriously united to her while the mystical birth of the Church proceeds in the world. Hence, the legionary of Mary who is working to extend here below the Kingdom of God, that is the Church, rightly claims the special protection of him who was the head of the new-born Church, the Holy Family." (Cardinal L. J. Suenens)


Designated in the Gospel as "the disciple whom Jesus loved," St. John appears therein as the model of devotion to the Sacred Heart. Faithful to the end, he clung to that Heart till he saw it stilled and pierced in death. Afterwards he is manifested as the model of devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Pure as an angel himself, he took the place which Jesus himself had filled, and he continued to render her the love of a son till she too died.
But our Lord's third word from the cross contained more than a filial provision for his Blessed Mother. In St. John, our Lord pointed out the human race, but above all those who would by faith attach themselves to him. Thus was proclaimed Mary's motherhood of men - the many brethren of whom Christ himself was the firstborn. St. John was the representative of all these new children, the first to enter upon the inheritance, a model to all who were to come after him, and a saint to whom the Legion owes tenderest devotion.
He loved the Church and every soul in it, and spent every faculty in its service. He was apostle, evangelist, and had the merit of martyr.
He was Mary's priest: therefore a special patron to the legionary priest in his service of the organisation which aims to be a living copy of Mary.

His feast occurs on 27 December.

"When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, 'Woman, here is your son.' Then he said to the disciple, 'Here is your mother'. And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home." (Jn 19:26-27)


"In view of other decisions as to the inadmissibility of particular and local patrons, the inclusion of the name of Blessed Grignion de Montfort would at first sight appear to be debatable ground. It can, however, be safely asserted that no saint has played a greater part in the development of the Legion than he. The handbook is full of his spirit. The prayers re-echo his very words. He is really the tutor of the Legion: thus invocation is due to him by the Legion almost as a matter of moral obligation." (Decision of the Legion placing the name of Blessed Grignion de Montfort in the list of invocations.)
He was canonised on 20 July, 1947, and his feast occurs on 28 April.

"Not only a founder, but missionary as well! And more than missionary; for we see yet another aspect: He is doctor and theologian, who has given us a mariology such as no one before him had conceived. So deeply has he explored the roots of marian devotion, so widely has he extended its horizons, that he has become without question the announcer of all the modern manifestations of Mary - from Lourdes to Fatima, from the definition of the Immaculate Conception to the Legion of Mary. He has constituted himself the herald of the coming of the reign of God through Mary, and the precursor of that longed-for salvation which in the fullness of time the Virgin Mother of God will bring to the world by her Immaculate Heart." (Federigo Cardinal Tedeschini, Archpriest of St. Peter's: Discourse at unveiling of statue of St. Louis-Marie de Montfort in Saint Peter's, 8 December, 1948)

"I clearly foresee that raging beasts will come in fury to tear to pieces with their diabolical teeth this little book and him whom the Holy Spirit has used to write it, or at least to bury it in the darkness and silence of a coffer, that it might not appear. They will even attack and persecute those who read it and put it into practice. But what matter? So much the better! This vision encourages me and makes me hope for great success, that is to say, for a mighty legion of brave and valiant soldiers of Jesus and Mary, of both sexes, to fight the devil, the world, and corrupt nature in those more than ever perilous times that are to come!" (St. Louis-Marie de Montfort (died 1716): True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary)


"Although the prince of all the heavenly court, St. Michael is the most zealous in honouring Mary and causing her to be honoured, while he waits always in expectation that he may have the honour to go at her bidding to render service to some one of her servants." (St. Augustine)
St. Michael has always been the patron of the chosen people, first of the Old Law and then of the New. He remains the loyal defender of the Church, but his guardianship of the Jews did not lapse because they turned away. Rather it was intensified because of their need and because they are the blood-kindred of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. The Legion serves under St. Michael. Under his inspiration it must strive lovingly towards the restoration of that people with whom the Lord made an everlasting covenant of love.

The feast of the "commander of the army of the Lord" (Josh 5:14) occurs on 29 September.

"According to Revelation, the angels who participate in the life of the Trinity in the light of glory, are called to play their part in the history of the salvation of man, in the moments established by Divine Providence.

'Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to serve, for the sake of those who possess salvation?' asks the author of the Letter to the Hebrews. (1:14) This is believed and taught by the Church, on the basis of Sacred Scripture, from which we learn that the task of the good angels is the protection of people and solicitude for their salvation." (Pope John Paul II, General Audience, 6 August 1986)


In some of the liturgies St. Gabriel and St. Michael are jointly hailed as: champions and princes, leaders of the heavenly army; captains of the angels; servants of the divine glory; guardians and guides of human creatures.
St. Gabriel is the Angel of the Annunciation. It was through him that the compliments of the Holy Trinity were addressed to Mary; that the mystery of the Trinity was first stated to man; that the Incarnation was announced; that the Immaculate Conception was declared; that the first notes of the Rosary were struck.
Reference has been made above to the concern of St. Michael for the Jews. Perhaps the same can be said of St. Gabriel and the Muslims. These believe that it was he who communicated their religion to them. That claim, though unfounded, represents an attention to him which he will seek to repay in a fitting way, that is by enlightening them in respect of the Christian revelation of which he was the custodian. But he cannot by himself effect that transformation. Always human co-operation must play its part.
Jesus and Mary have a strangely dominant place in the Koran, being shown there almost as in the Gospel but without any function. That holy Pair will be kept thus waiting in Islam until someone goes to help them to explain and assert themselves. It has been proved that the Legion has a gift in that way and that its members are received with appreciation by the Muslims. What rich substance for explanation lies in all that Koran material!

The united feast of Saints Michael, Gabriel and Raphael is celebrated on 29 September.

"The scriptures show us one of the highest of heaven's nobility sent in visible form to announce to Mary the mystery of the Incarnation. Mary was asked to become the Mother of God by an angel because by her divine motherhood she would hold sovereignty, power and dominion over all angels. 'It can be said,' writes Pope Pius XII, 'that the Archangel Gabriel was the first heavenly messenger of the royal office of Mary.' (Ad Coeli Reginam). Gabriel is honoured as patron of those who undertake important missions, who bear important news for God. He bore God's message to Mary. In that moment she took the place of all mankind and he was representative of all the angels. Their dialogue, which will inspire men to the end of time, made a treaty on which will arise 'new heavens and a new earth'. How wonderful, then, was he who spoke to Mary; how wrong it is to reduce his role to one of mere passive recitation. He had been fully enlightened and gave evidence of the widest possible resource. Reverent to Mary, he met fully every enquiry she made, for he was God's spokesman and trustee. From the meeting between Gabriel and Our Lady came the renewal of creation. The new Eve reversed the ruin wrought by the first Eve. The new Adam, as the Head of the Mystical Body which includes the angels, restored not only mankind but also the honour of the angels tarnished by the false angel." (Dr. Michael O'Carroll, C.S.Sp.)

Model for Table use

Model for Acies or Processional use


"Regina Angelorum! Queen of the Angels! What enchantment, what a foretaste of heaven it is to think thus of Mary our mother ceaselessly accompanied by legions of angels !" (Pope John XXIII.)
"Mary is the general of the armies of God. The angels form the most glorious troops of her who is terrible as an army set in battle array!" (Boudon: The Angels.)
From the first, the angels were invoked in the Legion prayers. The form followed was:
St. Michael, Archangel, pray for us.
Our Holy Guardian Angels, pray for us.
In this one must suppose that the Legion was guided, for the closeness of the angels' relation to the Legion was not then so clearly seen. As time went on, the appropriateness of the recourse to the angels became more and more evident. It was realised that the angels are a heavenly counterpart of the legionary campaign. This alliance has different aspects. Every legionary, active and auxiliary, has a guardian angel who fights blow for blow at his side. In a sense that battle means more to the angel than to the legionary, for the angel perceives vividly the issues at stake: God's glory and the value of the immortal soul. So the interest of the angel is most intense, and his support unfailing. But all the other angels are likewise concerned in this warfare. For instance all those for whom the Legion works have their guardian angels who lend their help.
In addition, the entire angelic army hastens to the scene. For our battle is part of the main struggle which from the first they have maintained against satan and his minions.
An impressive place is assigned to the angels in both the Old and the New Testaments where there are several hundred references to them. They are represented as paralleling the human warfare and as having an intimate protective office in regard to men. They intervene at important junctures. The phrase constantly recurs: "God sent his angel." All the nine choirs of angels have guardianship of some kind: over individuals, places, cities, countries; over nature; and some even over their fellow-angels. Scripture shows that even heathen kingdoms have their guardian angels. (Dan 4:10, 20, 10:13) The choirs are named as being: Angels, Archangels, Cherubim, Seraphim, Powers, Principalities, Thrones, Virtues and Dominations.
The position is, accordingly, that the angels aid as a body as well as individually, playing a part analogous to that of an airforce in relation to a surface army.
It was finally seen that the existing angelic invocation was not expressive of this universal protective role of the angels. It was decided:
  1. that it should be recast to a better form;
  2. that the word "Legion" should be linked with the angels. Our Lord himself had applied it to the angels, hallowing the word by thus taking it on his lips. When menaced by his enemies, he said: "Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?" (Mt 26:53)
  3. that the name of Mary should be introduced into the invocation. She is Queen of the Angels. She is truly the Commander of the Angelic Legion and it would be a new grace to our Legion to salute her under that deeply significant title.

Prolonged discussion throughout the Legion resulted in the adoption on l9 August, 1962, of the following form of invocation:

"All ye heavenly Powers, Mary's Legion of Angels, pray for us."
The memorial of the Guardian Angels occurs on 2 October.
There is an association, called the Philangeli, which specialises in spreading knowledge of the angels and devotion to them. Its principal centre is: Philangeli, Hon. General Secretary, Salvatorians, 129 Spencer Road, Harrow Weald, Middlesex HA3 7BJ, England.

"Our Lady's queenship of the angels must not be taken as a term of honour only. Her royal office is a participation in that of Christ and he has absolute universal dominion over creation. Theologians have not yet explained all the modes of Our Lady's joint rule with Christ the King. But it is clear that her royalty is a principle of action and that the effects of this action reach out to the confines of the visible and invisible universe. She rules the good spirits and controls the bad. Through her is made that indissoluble alliance of human and angelic society by which all creation will be led to its true end, the glory of the Trinity. Her queenship is our shield, for our mother and protectress has the power to command angels to help us. For her it means active partnership with her son in the loosening and destruction of satan's empire over men." (Dr. Michael O'Carroll, C.S.Sp.)


It is a strange fact, not easily explained, that it was not until 18 December, 1949 that St. John the Baptist was formally placed among the patrons of the Legion. For he is more intimately bound up with the devotional scheme of the Legion than any of its other patrons, with the exception of St. Joseph.
  1. He was the type of all legionaries, that is, a forerunner of the Lord, going before him to prepare his way and make straight his paths. He was a model of unshakable strength and devotion to his cause for which he was ready to die, and for which he did die.
  2. Moreover, he was formed for his work by Our Blessed Lady herself, as all legionaries are supposed to be. St. Ambrose declares that the main purpose of Our Lady's considerable stay with Elizabeth was the forming and appointing of the little Great-Prophet. The moment of that formation is celebrated by the Catena, our central prayer, which is laid as a daily duty on every legionary.
  3. That episode of the Visitation exhibits Our Lady in her capacity as Mediatrix for the first time, and St. John as the first beneficiary. Thereby was St. John exhibited from the first as a special patron of legionaries and of all legionary contacts, of the work of visitation in all its forms, and indeed of all legionary actions - these being but efforts to co-operate in Mary's mediatorial office.
  4. He was one of the essential elements in the mission of our Lord. All those elements should find a place in any system which seeks to reproduce that mission. The precursor remains necessary. If he be not there to introduce Jesus and Mary, perhaps they may not come upon the scene at all. Legionaries must recognise this special place of St. John, and by their faith in him enable him to pursue his mission. "If Jesus is perpetually 'he who comes', likewise St. John is he who ever precedes him, for the economy of the historical Incarnation of Christ is continued in his Mystical Body." (Daniélou.)
  5. The appropriate place for the invocation of St. John is in the Concluding Prayers next after the angels. Those prayers then picture the Legion in forward march, dominated by the Holy Spirit manifesting himself through Our Lady as a Pillar of Fire; supported by the Angelic Legion and its heads, St. Michael and St. Gabriel, preceded by its scout or precursor, St. John, as ever fulfilling his providential mission; then its generals, Saints Peter and Paul.
  6. St. John the Baptist has two liturgical celebrations. That of his nativity occurs on 24 June, and of his martyrdom on 29 August.
"I believe that the mystery of John is still being accomplished in the world of today. Whoever is to believe in Christ Jesus, the spirit and virtue of John must first come into his soul and prepare for the Lord a perfect people, make straight the paths in the rough places of his heart and smooth the ways. Up to this day the spirit and virtue of John go before the coming of the Lord and Saviour. (Origen)


"St. Peter, as prince of the apostles, is pre-eminently the patron for an apostolic organisation. He was the first Pope, but stands for all the illustrious line of Pontiffs, and for the present Holy Father. In invoking St. Peter, we express once again a Legion's loyalty to Rome, the centre of our faith, the source of authority, discipline, unity." (Decision of the Legion placing St. Peter's name in the list of invocations.)

The feast of Saints Peter and Paul occurs on 29 June.

"And I tell you, you are Peter,
and on this rock I will build my church and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." (Mt 16:18-19)


A soul that is to win others must be great and wide as the ocean. To convert the world, one's soul must be greater than the world. Such was St. Paul from the day when a sudden light from heaven shone round about him, and threw its radiance into his soul, and enkindled therein the burning desire to fill the world with the Name and Faith of Christ. The Apostle of the Gentiles - his work is his name. Untiringly he laboured till the sword of the executioner sent his indomitable spirit to God, and then his writings lived on, and ever will live, to continue his mission.
It is the way of the Church ever to join him with St. Peter in its prayer, which is praise indeed. It is fitting, too, for together these two great ones consecrated Rome by their martyrdom.

The Church celebrates their feast on the same day.

"With far greater labours, far more imprisonments, with countless floggings, and often near death. Five times I have received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I received a stoning. Three times I was shipwrecked; for a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from bandits, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers and sisters; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, hungry and thirsty, often without food, cold and naked." (2 Cor 11:23-27)