Servant of God Frank Duff

Prayer for the Beatification of Servant of God Frank Duff

God our Father, You inspired your servant Frank Duff with a profound insight into the mystery of Your Church, the Body of Christ, and of the place of Mary the Mother of Jesus in this mystery. In his immense desire to share this insight with others and in filial dependence on Mary he formed her Legion to be a sign of her maternal love for the world and a means of enlisting all her children in the Church's evangelising work.

We thank you Father for the graces conferred on him and for the benefits accruing to the Church from his courageous and shining faith. With confidence we beg You that through his intercession you grant the petition we lay before You ....(Specify the petition).... We ask too that if it be in accordance with Your will, the holiness of his life may be acknowledged by the Church for the glory of your Name, through Christ Our Lord.

(with ecclesiastical approval)

Letter to Frank Duff From the Bishops


Mr. Frank Duff,
De Montford House,
North Brunswick St.,
Dear Mr. Duff,

The fiftieth anniversary of the foundation of the Legion of Mary is a cause of joy, not only to Dublin, its place of origin, but also to Ireland and even to the Catholic world. We, the Bishops of Ireland, express to you our glad congratulations that, having nurtured the Legion from its earliest moments, you have been allowed by God to witness the marvellous expansion of this unique association of lay apostles.

The origins of the Legion of Mary are marked by obscurity, poverty and even hostility, that are seen at the outset of Our Divine Saviour's life in Bethlehem and Nazareth. Yet, in the plan of God,the supernatural faith and courage of the founding members have merited the grace not only of survival, through every kind of human vicissitude, but also of diffusion throughout the countries of the world.

Nor has the Legion relaxed its discipline of prayer and activity in the very varying circumstances of climate or peoples or cultures. We praise you for the steadfastness with which you have conserved the basic constitution sanctioned by thousands of Bishops and approved by the supreme authority of the Holy See.

No other power than that of God, no other inspiration than that of the Holy Spirit, no other protection than that of the Mother of God can adequately explain the supernatural constancy of the Legion of Mary.

With great fruit of holiness has the Legion emphasised from its earliest days the unique function of the Mother of God in dispensing grace. It is by the union of will and suffering between Jesus Christ and Mary, that she has merited to become the dispenser of all the gifts that Our Divine Saviour purchased for us by his death alone on the cross. Who that examines the Legion of Mary can deny that the primary grace which her intercession has won for its members is a deeply interior love of Jesus Christ, her Son?

In the courage of that divine love we must find the source of the immense outpouring of the Legion's works of charity, particularly those that are concerned with the most abandoned and helpless types of mankind.

We pray that Our Divine lord, in His indulgent mercy, may be pleased at the unceasing prayer of His Blessed Mother, to preserve her Legion through the coming years in the spirit of prayer that has been the character of its members, since they first knelt on the 7th September, 1921, to recite the Rosary before the statue of the Immaculate Virgin.

And may God be pleased to grant you in the years of life that yet remain to you the consolation and reward of presiding over a Legion unbroken in its spirit of supernatural holiness.

Very sincerely yours,
The Most Reverend John McCormack D.D.,
The Most Reverend Eugene O'Doherty D.D.,
Secretaries to the Bishops.

Frank Duff's reply to the Bishops

TELEPHONES 723153 &723142

My dear Lords Bishops,
4th November, 1971.

Seldom in my life have I experienced greater pleasure than was given to me by Your Lordships' delightfully worded letter of the 23rd June 1971. Indeed I wonder if a more generous and appreciative letter has ever been addressed to a subject by the Bishops of his country. I wonder too if anything could be more comprehensive than the commendation both of the spiritual and practical sides, which you so graciously bestow on the Legion.

Your letter will fortify the Concilium in its office of central governing body, and it will stimulate the members in their work. It goes into the legionary annals as a glorious charter from the Bishops of its native land.

I take this opportunity of thanking Your Lordships for the understanding and support which you have always given to the Legion. Whatever difficulties may have been encountered did not proceed from you.

My memory is vivid in regard to the personal kindness which I have always received from each one of Your Lordships. The Council too was a precious experience to me. I know that my attendance was brought about by Your Lordships' insistence. While there, I received many kindnesses from each one of you.

It forms a happy retrospect that the Legion has not failed notably in its duty of love and obedience to authority. May that feature ever continue in its special mark. Without it, may the Legion perish.

With renewal of my expression of gratitude and affection,
I am, my dear Lords Bishops,
Your most devoted servant,
Frank Duff.

To the bishops of Ireland,
c/o The Most Reverend John McCormack D.D.,
The Most Reverend Eugene O'Doherty D.D., Secretaries to the Bishops.



BY Msgr. Charles T. Moss

When I was in Manila this past January I showed one of Frank Duff's video interviews to the officers of the Senatus and the staff of Maria Legionis. Sitting next to me was Pacita Santos who had done heroic work in spreading the Legion in the Philippines especially during the years of the Japanese Occupation. During the viewing she turned to me and said with a voice choked with emotion: "As I sit here watching and listening to him, I find it difficult to believe that he's dead. He's so natural, so much the man I've met many times in Dublin. I feel like he's here in the room with us now."

All told Frank Duff gave eight interviews for the television camera in August, 1979, and he did so with his own unique brand of humor and warmth that even today he touches those who see the videotapes. These eight interviews then are like a living autobiography and it was for this reason that they have been titled, "Frank Duff - A Living Autobiography."

For those who have seen the television interviews I hope that the transcripts will not only rekindle the memories of the man but also give them the opportunity to mine the wisdom contained in his comments and observations in the quiet of their own homes.

For those who have not yet seen the television interviews I hope that the transcripts will provide them with an insight into the man. I hope too that his printed words will prompt them to see the interviews for as powerful as the printed word is, it cannot match the impact conveyed by the living image.

This book is divided into three sections. The first section contains all eight of Frank Duff's interviews. The second section is an article which he wrote originally for the Christmas 1939 edition of Maria Legionis. In this article, "The De Montfort Way," Mr. Duff explains de Montfort's True Devotion, the book on which he based his spiritual life and that of the Legion of Mary. While explaining de Montfort he reveals himself especially his love for Our Lady which was the keystone of his life and of the Legion of Mary which he founded. The third section is composed of a series of articles on Legion of Mary Television. So many legionaries have expressed an interest in how the video interviews were made and spread abroad that I thought they would appreciate having these articles under the same cover as the interviews even though some of them previously appeared in Maria Legionis (North American Edition).

Many other books about Frank Duff are sure to appear in the years to come. I would recommend the biography presently being written by Hilde Firtel. She not only knew Frank Duff for the better part of forty years but also has almost a thousand of his letters to her, to draw on for source material. Her book is due out in the Spring of 1983.

Lastly, a word of thanks to all who have made this book possible. Mrs. Anna Barazzuol and Mrs. Margaret McClure did all the typing. Anna B.O'Connor and Bill Peffley did the proofreading. Wally Weidner and Joe Geppert of Lehigh Litho, Inc. gave freely of their time and professional expertise for the design and layout of the book. Mary Peffley, her daughter, Edel, and Joan Balik were always most kind in offering helpful suggestions, comments and constructive criticisms. And, of course, without the sacrifices of the members of the Television Team, Walt Brown, Beatrice Flannigan, Al Norrell and Bill Peffley, there would have been no book because there would have been no television interviews. To all these persons I owe a debt of gratitude.

Msgr. Charles T. Moss

Feast of the Immaculate Conception December 8, 1982


An Interview with Frank Duff

Vatican Council Two represents an act of faith in the Legion of Mary. "

He was alert, spry and even had a twinkle in his eyes as he walked into the improvised television studio on the second floor of St. Anne's located on Dublin's North Brunswick Street between the Regina Coeli and his residence. He took off his coat showing the blue-grey sweater he wore beneath, sat down under the hot quartz lights and waited patiently for the television crew to complete their checking of the sound and the video. As a concession to his impaired hearing, he reluctantly accepted a stack of numbered cards on which were printed the questions he would be asked by Al Norrell during the interview.

For fifty-five minutes Frank Duff answered the questions put to him sometimes responding quickly, sometimes slowly, often punctuating his replies with humor and laughter. He was himself. As he finished his final comment he laughed and handed Al Norell the question cards, the only time he used them.

This interview is but one of eight of Frank Duff, Founder of the Legion of MARY made in August 1979 by a team of legionaries from the Philadelphia Senatus (Monsignor Moss, Walt Brown, Al Norell, Bill Peffley and Beatrice Flannigan). During this interview Mr. Duff answered questions about his family, his personal background and the organization which he founded in 1921.

Q. Mr. Duff, where were you born?
A. I was born in this very city at a spot one mile north of where we are sitting.

Q. And what year was that?
A. Eighteen hundred and eighty nine.

Q. So, that would make you now ninety-years of age!
A. That is true-according to the laws of arithmetic! (Laughs)

Q. Where were your mother and father born?
A. They were born at a spot twenty-seven and a half miles from here, the town of Trim, County Meath, a place which is quite well-known in the history of ancient Ireland.

Q. And what type of work were they involved in?
A. My father was a civil servant and my mother was likewise a civil servant. My mother had the distinction of passing the first examination in the old British and Irish Civil Service open to women and she was appointed to London where she was for a few years. Then they extended the system to Ireland and so she came back, It was in the family to be a civil servant because that's what I became in due course.

Q. How many brothers and sisters had you?
A. There were seven children born in all. Two of them died young, both girls. That left five, three girls, my brother and myself.

Q. Are any of your brothers and sisters living today?
A. No, I am the sole survivor. It is one of the anguishes of life that when I want to go back into things in the past that I would very much wish to know, I have not a soul to turn to.

Q. What about your schooling background? Where did you have your schooling here in Ireland?
A. After being in what they call Dames' Schools up to a certain point, I was two years in Belvidere College run by the Jesuits and then on a change of residence, I was sent to Blackrock where I completed my education such as it was.

Q. Then, as you said, you became a civil servant.
A. I became a civil servant, yes.

Q. In the year nineteen hundred and twenty-one, the Legion was founded and you continued as a civil servant until what year?
A. Nineteen hundred and thirty three. At that stage I got an opportunity of leaving the Civil Service. I had for quite-a-time been suffering from the realization that the two things were incompatible. And sometimes I used to even think that I was dying under the strain. In any case the end of that was that I quit, a step I was never even in the remotest degree sorry for. (Laughs)

Q. And so, after that you gave and have given through the years your full-time to the Legion of Mary!
A. That is so.