Edel : A Great Gift to the Legion

Starting from the feast of the Triumph of the Cross on the 14th of September this year the Legion throughout the world will celebrate the centenary of the birth of the Venerable Edel Quinn. Her life is one of the loveliest and most inspiring gifts that God and His Mother could have given to the Legion. If ever a praesidium or any higher council of the Legion were tempted to give into discouragement or set lower standards or to give up the effort to be a school of holiness and apostolic laity, they could begin the work of recovery and renewal by turning to the life and spirit of Edel. That is surely one of the reasons why God raised up Edel in the ranks of the Legion. Every faith community needs the example and inspiration of its outstanding members.

Frank Duff, the founder of the Legion and a key witness in the process for the beatification of Edel says with utter conviction that she is the perfect embodiment of the Legion spirit and ideal. During the centenary year we will be speaking and writing a great deal about various aspects of her holiness and extraordinarily attractive personality. But today I just want to point to one or two aspects of her life that we legionaries should really try to imitate and make our own.
The Handbook says that the spirit of the Legion is the spirit of Mary herself. Or that a praesidium is a local presence of Mary. Well, the spirit of Edel was a profound sharing in the spirit of Mary. She seemed to be a starting point for many people for an understanding and faith experience of Mary. Her very best friend and the one who understood her most sensitively and accurately was Mary Walls who later became a Carthusian Nun. Her written testimony given to the Tribunal is perhaps the most perceptive and inspiring portrait of Edel that we have been given. This is what she wrote about Edel with regard to Our Lady.

‘Looking back, I can truly say that Edel Quinn left an indelible mark on my life. She was like a bright light that shone on all who approached her, but more especially on her friends. This light gave out not only brightness, but also warmth - the warmth of love. I can still feel its effects. Her friendship was a source of constant joy and happiness. One could not fail to be better for having known her - at least, so it seems to me.

It was through knowing Edel that I came to a deeper knowledge of the unspeakable charm and lovableness of Our Lady. One day I had an intuition of the beauty and charm of Mary, as an amplification of the spiritual charm and radiance of Edel. At that moment Our Lady seemed to me more wonderfully beautiful and attractive than she had ever seemed previously. My first inclination was to reject that intuition as being “too good to be true.” But then I thought: “Why should it be too good to be true? If she, an ordinary young girl, was so delightfully sweet and charming because of her close union with Jesus, surely the most Holy Virgin Mother of Jesus must be incomparably more so”. Thus Edel was an indirect and unconscious occasion for me of a loving knowledge of Mary - far greater and, I think, far truer than I could otherwise have had. I often pray to Edel and I received a very important and precious favour of a spiritual nature which I attribute to her intercession. However, it does not fall into the category of a miracle that could serve to advance her cause for beatification’.

Wouldn’t it be a wonderful thing if people could truly say the Legion is the place where one can truly come to experience, to know and love Mary. Certainly, Frank Duff was overwhelmed when he received a great award from the Marianists in Dayton, Ohio and the citation said that he had done more than anyone to make Mary known and loved. He replied that nothing would give him greater pleasure than to be an instrument for bringing others to Mary.

I think it would be a magnificent way of celebrating the memory of Edel if every legionary would resolve to embody the spirit of Mary in the circumstances of their own life and make her better known and loved. Let us pray to Edel for that intention. I think it would be a good thing to read once more the Life of Edel by Cardinal Suenens or the little pamphlet by Fr. Anselm Moynihan or the little booklet I have just quoted above by Mary Walls, the Carthusian nun, called ‘I Knew Edel Quinn’. Whatever way you try to get to know Edel better it will pay huge dividends in encouragement and a renewed Legion spirit.