Wednesday, 31 August 2011

At last! A mystery solved and a role for young women in the Church

For many years I have laboured under the impression that The Legion of Mary is/was an organisation for women only. Learning more about them from family and friends has put me right but I remember (or thought I remembered) this group from my early days in our parish of Hounslow. In fact, all three of my sisters were in this sodality. Wrong!

It transpires that they were in the Children of Mary, an all female group under the protection of Mary Immaculate and Saint Catherine Laboure and the Miraculous Medal. Now it all make sense, St Michael's and St Martin's Parish had a convent of the Sisters of Charity and this was the order empowered to establish local groups of the Children of Mary.

And here they are...Children of Mary. Two of my sisters
 lead the procession and my eldest brother is on the
 right hand side of the priest
It fulfilled, in many respects, what altar serving does or should do for boys, encourage vocations to the priesthood. The Children of Mary were sort of proto nuns although, by the 60s I guess that a lifetime spent in a convent held little attraction for young women - the death watch beetles were well entrenched by then.

Of course, they had a real role in parish life; they acted in a sacristan capacity, they de-waxed the many candle trays, they organised social events, they prayed as a group and they formed an important part of processions, pilgrimages and all "public" events that the parish was concerned with. They probably did a lot more besides. They were a mirror image of young men on the altar - perfect!

Where are they today? Never seen hide nor hair of one since those days but just think of the vital role that they could play today. Young evangelists, leaders of moral opinion amongst their peers, vanguard of support for the parish priest.
Bring 'em back fast.....take those young girls off the altar, give them a set of Sodality prayers and a Miraculous Medal on a blue ribbon and they're off!

Then we might see a return of vocations to the convents, but only if the orders of women pull themselves together and put on the yoke of Christ once more...but that's an  issue for a future post.


  1. Absolutely wonderful conclusion Mr. Linen and a good idea to suggest the reintroduction of them.
    I suspect Nuns were the ones behind previous years formations but as they are a little scarce in most parishes maybe it could be a task of Legion of Mary praesidiums, there are a few of those about and increasing yearly.

  2. Excellent post. The Children of Mary also did the strewing: only they could cast petals on the ground before the priest carrying the Blessed Sacrament in procession.

    I'd never thought of Children of Mary = female Archconfraternity of St Stephen before: it's so obvious once you point it out.

  3. We were all inducted as Children of Mary at our convent school. We had blue ribbons for our medals, blue cloaks and net veils (and white gloves) which we wore proudly for our Corpus Christi procession - with banners - round the block. So your picture brought back great memories.
    In the 6th Form we were encouraged to join the Legion, which we did, and our work consisted of visiting elderly people in hospital or at home who had no other visitors.
    We left school and the results, sad to say, were predictable. The secular world seemed a much more attractive place.
    It was a bit like being on one of those cycle lanes which suddenly peters out into a line of fast-moving traffic and there were no signposts beyond school.