41st death anniversary of Servant of God Frank Duff, founder of the Legion of Mary

Today, Sunday the 7th November 2021, the Legion of Mary family world over, commemorates the 41st death anniversary of Frank Duff, founder of Legion of Mary.  We thank God for the gift of this great man who offered his life to start and to nurture the Legion of Mary apostolate from 7th September 1921 the day he started it until 7th November 1980 when he died.

Frank Duff
Servant of God Frank Duff

The following is a biographical note given to us by Rev. Fr. Bede McGregor O.P. Spiritual Director of Concilium in his book “Frank Duff and the Legion of Mary”:-

Frank Duff was born in Dublin, Ireland, on June 7th 1889, the eldest of seven children.

In 1913 he joined the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and was greatly influenced by the spirit of the Society. As a member, he gradually came to have a great love for the poor and underprivileged in whom, as in everybody he met, he recognized and honored Christ.

In 1916, aged 27, he published his first pamphlet “Can we be Saints?  In it he expressed one of the strongest convictions of his life, namely, that all without exception are called to be saints and that through our Catholic faith we have available all the means necessary to attain this.

In 1917 he came to know the Treatise of St. Louis Marie de Montfort on the true Devotion to Mary, a work which changed his life completely.

On September 7th, 1921 Frank Duff founded the Legion of Mary.  This is a lay apostolic organization at the service of the Church, under ecclesiastical guidance.  Its twofold purpose is the spiritual development of its members and advancing the reign of Christ through Our Lady.

The Legion is today found in almost every country in the world.

In 1965 Pope Paul VI invited Frank Duff to attend the second Vatican Council as a Lay Observer, an honour by which the Pope recognised and affirmed his enormous work for the lay apostolate.

On 7th November, 1980, Frank Duff told Nellie, a Legionary, that he would not have his customary lunch at the Regina Coeli but would go over for tea at 5.00pm.  He did not show up.  The lady went over to the De Montfort House and found the great and valiant warrior in his bed, arms folded; eyes open looking at the statue of the Sacred Heart on the wall and had died.  Frank Duff whom many have described as one of the twentieth century’s greatest Catholics” had gone to his reward. He was buried in Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin.

Some of the lessons learnt from the Life of Frank Duff:-

  • His filial love and dependence on Mother Mary –“ A man of great humanity, wisdom and trust in the Mother of God”  said by the Vincentian Spiritual Director to Legion of Mary
  • His commitment.   By 1933 Frank Duff almost broke under the strain of his double life as Legion Director and Government Servant.  He decided to retire from office in order to concentrate on service to God.
  • His courageous and shining faith
  • He read many books about faith and it is through reading “True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin” that he was inspired to start Legion of Mary.
  • He was a writer. He wrote the Legion of Mary Handbook, “Can we be Saints”, “Edel            Quinn” and many others.  During the course of his life, he wrote over 33,000 letters, in which he encouraged and counseled people in many matters.
  • Prayerful.  He attended Mass and received Holy Communion, visited the Blessed nd prayed the rosary daily.
  • Although he worked tirelessly, Frank had time for everyone. He had a sense of humor, warmth and kindness. 

NB.  Read Maria Legionis edition 3 of 2014 you will find more virtues of Frank Duff.

In July 1996 the Cause of his canonization was introduced by the Archbishop of Dublin, Dr. Desmond Connel.  Legionaries are called upon to pray for the Beatification of this Servant of God.  Favours attributed to the intercession of Frank Duff should be reported to Senatus to be forwarded to Concilium