Edel Quinn was born in Kanturk, Co. Cork, Ireland on 14 September 1907. As a girl her ambition was to enter a contemplative convent, but she was prevented from doing so by ill-health. At the age of 20 she joined the Legion of Mary in Dublin and was an enthusiastic member.
In 1932 she became seriously ill and spent a long period in hospital. She resumed her activities in the Legion but for the remainder of her life was impaired due to that illness.
In 1936 Edel was appointed Legion of Mary Envoy to East Africa – to countries such as Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia and Mauritius. She encountered obstacles in this pioneering work and overcame them despite her poor health and harsh conditions. She had great faith in God’s love and a limitless trust in the maternal care of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Edel was gifted with a clear practical mind. She had notable organising ability, an indomitable will and a depth of warmth and human empathy. Her infectious joyousness of spirit never failed her. These qualities quickly won everyone to her side.
Although often working alone and in a state of ill-health and exhaustion, Edel established the Legion of Mary on a firm footing in the countries she visited – even as far as Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. Hundreds of Legion branches and higher councils of the Legion were established – meaning that thousands of Africans were mobilised in the service of the Church.
After eight years of heroic labour, Edel died in Nairobi on 12 May 1944 where she is buried in the Missionaries’ Cemetery.
The Diocesan Process, the first step towards her beatification, was set in motion in 1957 by the Archbishop of Nairobi. She was declared Venerable on 15 December 1994 by Pope John Paul II.
The following extracts from her private notes give an indication of her spiritual life:
‘What boundless trust we should have in God’s love! We can never love too much; let us give utterly and not count the cost. God will respond to our faith in Him …’
‘Mary loves us because we are Christ’s legacy to her. Let us give ourselves completely to her to be made all His, to be consumed unceasingly, to be spent for Christ.’
‘To suffer for love of Our Lord is my very greatest joy.’
Edel’s favourite prayer:
‘Dear Jesus make Thyself to me, a living bright reality.
More present to Faith’s vision keen, than any outward object seen,
More dear, more intimately nigh than e’en the sweetest earthly tie.’