THE PATRONS OF THE LEGION
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
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.
2. ST.JOHN THE
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
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.
"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
He was canonised on 20 July, 1947, and his feast occurs on 28 April.
"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.
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
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
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.
Model for Table use
Model for Acies or Processional use
6. THE HEAVENLY
POWERS, MARY'S LEGION OF ANGELS
"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
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:
- that it should be recast to a better form;
- 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)
- 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.)
- 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.
- St. John the Baptist has two liturgical celebrations. That
of his nativity occurs on 24 June, and of his martyrdom on 29 August.
"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.
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
The Church celebrates their feast on the same day.