Legio Mariae

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The Legio Mariae is a Catholic lay organization established in the Republic of Ireland in 1921 , not to be confused with the religious movement Legio Maria .


On September 7, 1921, several laypeople founded the "Community of Our Lady of Mercy" under the leadership of Frank Duff in Dublin , which from 1925 under the Latin name "Legio Mariae" (English "Legion of Mary" , German "Legion Mariens") ) got known.

The members were initially women and from 1929 also men. They made visits to hospitals, and later began street apostolate and caring for marginalized groups such as prostitutes and the homeless .

Since this form of lay apostolate was very unusual for the time, a recommendation from Pope Pius XI. in 1931 the concerns of the higher ecclesiastical authorities gradually allayed.

The community spread first in Ireland, from 1928 in Scotland and England , from 1931 in India and the USA . In 1933 the first praesidium was established in Africa , where Edel Mary Quinn in particular was responsible for the expansion from 1936. From 1937 legion groups were established in China . After the Communist seizure of power by Mao Zedong , many legionaries were arrested and died in prisons. From 1940 the community spread across the European continent ( Germany 1944 in Ravensburg , Austria on February 2, 1949 in Vienna ) and from 1953 through Alfie Lambe in South America .

Today the Legion is represented worldwide and according to its own information has about 2.2 million active legionaries and about 10 million auxiliary legionaries . The Popes Pius XII. (1953), John XXIII. (1960), Paul VI. (1965) and John Paul II (1982) praised the work of the Legion of Mary.

Types of Membership

  • Active members or legionaries : do apostolic work for one to two hours a week, always carried out in pairs, and take part in the weekly presidium meeting. They are obliged to obey the rules set out in the Handbook of the Legion of Mary.
  • Praying members or auxiliary legionaries : support the Legion of Mary by praying the rosary and legionary prayers daily .
  • Praetorians : Legionaries who also celebrate Holy Mass every day, pray the Liturgy of the Hours and the Rosary.
  • Adjutors : praying members who also celebrate Holy Mass every day and pray the Liturgy of the Hours.


Legionary altar around which the praesidium gathers

The praesidium is the smallest group in the Legion that gives itself a Marian name (e.g. "Mariae Heimsuchung"). Praesidia may only be established if the responsible bishop approves the legion for his diocese . In a parish, the pastor must agree to the establishment of a praesidium.

The praesidium is led by a layperson (president) and meets every week for prayer and spiritual reading. The members report on their work and receive new work assignments. Spiritual leaders (a priest , friar or a religious woman ) who oversee the presidium give an allocutio (short speech).

Each presidium must be attached to a higher council.

The higher councils Curia , Comitium , Regia and Senatus have the task of visiting the praesidia regularly and of monitoring the observance of the Legion's rules. In Germany there is the Cologne Regia , the Frankfurt Senatus and the Munich Regia . The whole of Austria is subordinate to the Vienna Senatus ; In 2020 there were 1,477 legionnaires and 8,664 auxiliaries in this country.

The supreme council is the Concilium Legionis , based in Dublin .


Spiritual father of the Legion is St. Ludwig Maria Grignion von Montfort and the perfect devotion to Jesus through Mary recommended by him .

The goal of the Legion is the holiness of the members, but also of the whole world. The legionaries want through their apostolate that God is more loved in the world. They should see Christ in the cared for.

Special activities

  • Exploratio Dominicalis: Apostolic work of a praesidium on a Sunday, which is usually carried out in another parish.
  • Incola Mariae: Legionnaire who volunteers several months of mission abroad.
  • Peregrinatio Pro Christo (PPC): Foreign apostolate of the legionaries during the holidays for a period of one to two weeks.
  • Acies: Main celebration of the Legion around March 25th, when the Legion's promise is renewed.
  • Community festival: social gathering around December 8th, the solemn festival of the Conception of Mary .
  • Patrician group: monthly meeting, to which non-legionaries are also invited, with a presentation and discussion on questions of faith.


  1. The founding in Germany goes back to Hilde Firtel .
  2. ^ It was founded in Austria by Friedrich Wessely .
  3. ^ "The Legion of Mary in Austria", in: Regina Legionis, magazine of the Legion of Mary in Austria (2020) issue 3, p. 20.

See also



  • The Handbook of the Legion of Mary . Concilium Legionis Mariae, Dublin 1993.
  • The Legion of Mary: Apostolate in Our Time . 2nd Edition. Munich Senatus, Munich 2004.
  • Robert Bradshaw: Frank Duff. Founder of the Legion of Mary . Youth association for Christian Catholic values, Maria Roggendorf 1994.
  • Anna Coreth: Legio Mariae . In: Lexicon for Theology and Church . 2nd edition, 6th volume. Herder, Freiburg i. B. 1961.
  • Anna Coreth: Frank Duff and the Legion of Mary . Catholic Academy, Vienna 1982.
  • Frank Duff: How to conquer the world. History of the Legio Mariae . Bernina, Klosterneuburg near Vienna 1955.
  • Frank Duff: The Spirit of the Legion of Mary . 2nd Edition. Freiburg i. B. 1960.
  • Hilde Firtel : A life for Christ. Frank Duff and the Legion of Mary . EOS, St. Ottilien 1983, ISBN 3-88096-156-5 .
  • Frank Duff (Ed. Andreas Seidl): That God is loved more! History of the Legion of Mary . Youth association for Christian / Catholic values, Maria Roggendorf 2003, ISBN 3-00-011150-6 .
  • Léon-Joseph Suenens: Theology of the Apostolate. The Legion's Promise in the Light of Catholic Doctrine . Rohr, Freiburg i. Br. 1952.
  • Friedrich Wessely: Spirit and Life of the Legion of Mary . 2nd Edition. Salterrae, Maria Roggendorf 1991.
  • Friedrich Wessely: Risk for God. Nature and effectiveness of the Legion of Mary . 3. Edition. Salterrae, Maria Roggendorf 1991.

Member magazines

  • The Voice of the Legion appears quarterly in Germany
  • Regina Legionis appears every two months in Austria

Web links

Commons : Legion of Mary  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files