Recently I have been thinking a lot about the woman who leant me my first name and therefore my (venerable) patron. I guess not many have heard of Edel Quinn but she and Frank Duff (Servant of God) are key figures in the spread of the Legion of Mary. My Dad moved to England when he was nineteen. He found England rather different to the small town Ireland he was used to. By chance he joined the Legion of Mary and discovered the great example of Edel who he would eventually name his fourth child after- of course my Mum had the final choice but when she heard it she liked it and coupled with the name Anne- it seemed to create a good combination. Today I thought I would post her little known story. The Legion prayer is one of great beauty and power and I have also included this at the end of the post.
At age twenty of Edel was working as a secretary proving to be most efficient and conscientious. At this time the spiritual side of her life was becoming more dominant. She joined the Legion of Mary in Dublin.
Edel’s destiny was to be linked to the Legion perhaps more than she knew. In 1932 when about to join the poor Clare Convent in Belfast, a contemplative order, it was discovered she had advanced tuberculosis of the lungs. This would eventually end her life. An eighteen-month stay in a sanatorium followed. Towards the end of 1933 she went back to her office job and her beloved Legion. She spent time visiting the sick and the needy.
In 1936, with her health still failing, Edel responded to a call to go as envoy to Africa. Understandably the central council of the Legion was reluctant to agree. “How could this slight, waif-like creature possibly have the stamina required for extensive travel throughout Central Africa?” A determined Edel remarked that she was going in with her eyes open and didn’t want to “go on a picnic”.
In November 1936, she arrived in Mombasa, Kenya. Within 14 days she had set up the first praesidium, Legion group, called “The Immaculate Conception”. Like everything else she had tackled previously, Edel threw herself into fulfilling her role, which was to bring Catholics of all ethnic backgrounds to work together through Our Lady.
Within five months, Edel had founded the first Curia, (a governing council of the Legion for guiding praesidia).
Sheer necessity brought about the purchase of a six year old Ford V8
coupe. When her newly acquired driver proved unreliable, in true Edel fashion she learned to drive. Harrowing journeys, in her “Rolls Royce” as she called it, were all part of the job – “She was utterly undaunted” Frank Duff, the Legion’s founder once said of her, “Just laughed her way through obstacles that would have beaten almost anyone else.”
In the period 1937 – 1940 she introduced the Legion to Uganda, Tanganyika (Tanzania), Nyasaland (Malawi) and Mauritius in the Indian Ocean.
She organized the translations and printing of prayers in several different languages and dialects. During her many hospital spells she continued her work through correspondence.
By 1943, the tuberculosis was well advanced and even Edel had to admit she was slowing down considerably. Yet she still continued her travels
By November 1943, her hard labor had paid off. Hundreds of Legion groups were thriving on African soil thanks to this single-minded Irish woman. Some extracts from her personal notes:
" We can find Him, at every free moment, on the Altar. Be with Him there. Better than all books! "
"Thank the Trinity over and over again for this Gift."
"Rest in His presence, and my Guardian Angel will adore Him for me. Silence."
"At Mass I united myself to the victim Christ, through Mary’s hands, for the glory of the Trinity, in thanksgiving for everything, and on behalf of souls. At Mass always to have special intention of offering and hearing it on behalf of those who cannot hear it themselves by reason of sickness, distance, work or war. Place this intention in Mary’s hands."
The Legion Prayer
Confer, O Lord, on us,
Who serve beneath the standard of Mary,That fullness of faith in you and trust in her,
To which it is given to conquer the world.
Grant us a lively faith, animated by charity,
Which will enable us to perform all our actions
From the motive of pure love of you,
And ever to see you and serve you in our neighbour;
A faith, firm and immovable as a rock,
Through which we shall rest tranquil and steadfast
Amid the crosses, toils and disappointments of life;
A courageous faith which will inspire us
To undertake and carry out without hesitation
Great things for your glory and for the salvation of souls;
A faith which will be our Legion's Pillar of Fire -
To lead us forth united -
To kindle everywhere the fires of divine love-
To enlighten those who are in darkness and in the shadow of death-
To inflame those who are lukewarm-
To bring back life to those who are dead in sin;
And which will guide our own feet in the way of peace;
So that - the battle of life over -
Our Legion may reassemble,
Without the loss of any one,
In the kingdom of your love and glory. Amen.
May the souls of our departed legionaries
And the souls of all the faithful departed
Through the mercy of God rest in peace. Amen.