History of the Legion of Mary
The Legion of Mary was founded by Frank Duff on 7 September 1921 at Myra House, Francis Street, in Dublin. His idea was to help Catholic lay people fulfil their baptismal promises to be able to live their dedication to the Church in an organised structure, which would be supported by fraternity and prayer. The Legion draws its inspiration from Louis de Montfort's book True Devotion to Mary.
The Legion first started out by visiting women with cancer in hospitals, but it soon became active among the most destitute, notably among Dublin prostitutes. Duff subsequently laid down the system of the Legion in the Handbook of the Legion of Mary in 1928.
The Legion soon spread around the world. At first, it was often met with mistrust because of its then-unusual dedication to lay apostolate. After Pope Pius XI praised it in 1931, the Legion had its mistrust quelled.
Most prominent for spreading the legion was Edel Quinn for her activities in Africa in the 1930s and the 1940s. Her dedication to the mission of the legion, even in the face of her ill health (tuberculosis) brought her great admiration inside and outside the legion. A canonisation process is currently under way for the legendary Quinn, and a beatification process is currently underway for Duff, and for Alfie Lambe (1932–1959), Legion Envoy to South America.
Membership in Ireland had been declining, but the Concilium's efforts to attract younger by the Deus et Patria movement has caused a substantial increase in membership.
On 27 March 2014, the Secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, Bishop Josef Clemens, delivered the decree in which the Legion is recognised by the Holy See as International Association of the Faithful.