Culture Victoria

Legion of Mary: Melbourne Senatus

456 Queensberry Street Melbourne Phone: (03) 9328 4757 Visit Website

The Legion of Mary is an international Catholic lay movement, which aims to collaborate in the Church's mission of evangelisation. Its members engage in the direct religious apostolate, especially towards those most remote from the Church's influence.

The Legion of Mary was founded in Dublin Ireland in 1921 by Frank Duff. Frank saw a great need for ordinary Catholics to be involved in the work of evangelisation, something which until then had been the sole realm of priests and religious. He met with a group of 11 women and a priest on 7 September 1921 and held the first Legion meeting. For a time it was known as The Association of Our Lady of Mercy. One of the first works carried out by the Legion members was to go into a red-light district in Dublin renowned for its high crime rate. It was so bad that the authorities had turned a blind eye to it for many years. Frank was already quite well known through his involvement in the St Vincent de Paul Society and he was able to infiltrate this district where others had failed. With his gentle and unassuming manner he managed to organise retreats for the street girls, bringing many of them back to the practice of their faith and turning away from their life of sin. He eventually set up hostels for single women (the Regina Coeli) and for destitute men (Morning Star Hostel) both of which are still operational today.

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