Legion of Mary  |  Legion of Mary Handbook



The Roman Legion was probably the most magnificent fighting unit the world has ever seen. The secret of its invincibleness lay in the marvellous spirit of its members. The soldier had to merge his personality in that of the Legion to which he belonged. An unquestioning obedience to his commanding officer was demanded, such that he was expected to obey "ad nutum", that is "at the nod", irrespective of the merits of the officer or of the soldier's personal likes or dislikes. There might be no grumbling if promotion did not come and if resentment happened to be felt it might not be allowed to appear either in word or deed. Hence all moved together as one man, because directed by a common purpose, each bound to the leader and to one another. Shoulder to shoulder and flank to flank, their hosts patrolled the world and upheld Roman prestige and Roman law wherever they appeared. Their devotedness made them irresistible in the face of the enemy, their undaunted courage and dogged perseverance wearing him out and compelling him either to surrender or to fly. They were the outposts of the Empire: on them fell the brunt of maintaining it in its integrity. Such examples as that of the Roman Centurion found standing at his post when Pompeii was excavated, or the famous Theban Legion, massacred with its generals, Saints Maurice, Exuperius, and Candidus in the persecution of Maximian, illustrate their unflinching heroism.
The spirit of the Roman Legion may be summed up as one inspired by submission to authority, an unflagging sense of duty, perseverance in the face of obstacles, endurance in hardship, and loyalty to the cause in the tiniest details of duty.
Such was the pagan ideal of reliable service. The legionary of Mary must also have this virility, but supernaturalised and tempered and sweetened by contact with her who can best teach the secret of loving, gracious service.

"Standing before the cross,
the Centurion watched the Saviour die. Struck by the cry he had uttered before rendering up his soul, he glorified God, saying: 'Truly this man was the Son of God.' (Mk 15:39) And the legionaries that were with him watching Jesus, having seen the earthquake and the things that were done, were sore afraid, saying: 'Indeed this was the Son of God.' (Mt 27:54)
The soldiers of the Roman army thus became the first converts.
The Church of the future, which must be called the Roman Church, began in a mysterious manner around Calvary the function which she was destined to fulfil in the world. The Romans it was who offered up the Victim and elevated it in the sight of the multitude. These future guardians of the unity of the Church would refuse to tear the tunic of Jesus. These depositories of the faith would be the first to write and to uphold the principal dogma of the new faith - the royalty of the Nazarene. They would smite their breasts at the moment when the sacrifice would be consummated saying: 'Truly this was the Son of God.' Lastly, with the same spear which would open up to the Gospel all the highways of the universe, they would open the Sacred Heart of the Master, from whence flow streams of benediction and of supernatural life. Since all humanity is guilty of the death of the Redeemer, since all have steeped their hands in his blood, and since therefore the future Church could not be represented but by culprits, does it not seem as though the Romans, as early as the time of Calvary, were, though unconsciously, inaugurating, substantiating, their immortal destiny?
The cross had been fixed in such a position that the back of Jesus was turned upon Jerusalem, while his face was to the west, towards the Eternal City." (Bolo: Tragedy of Calvary)