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The Servant of God Frank Duff 1889 – 1980

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The Servant of God Frank Duff 1889 – 1980. Prayer for the Beatification of the Servant of God Frank Duff

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Prayer for the Beatification of the 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 evangelizing 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……

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, Amen.


Born June 7, First Friday 1889

Died November 7, First Friday 1980

Cause for beatification proposed by Archbishop of Dublin and declared Servant of God, 1996


Susan Letitia (Letty) Freehill

c. 12th Nov. 1863 - 27th Feb.1950

John Duff

1861 - 23rd Dec. 1918 Retired at 42 due to attack of Typhoid.

Married 5th Nov. 1888


Susan Duff & family.

From left to right


John as a baby,

Eva Lucy and Frank

c.July 1895.


Frank attended Blackrock College from 1899 – 1907 and excelled at Sport and in his academic studies.


Frank at left – the oldest of seven children.

Isabel Maud

9th May 1891 - 10th June 1949

Eva Lucy & Letitia Anne

b.30th June 1893 – Letitia d.18th Mar. 1894

John Edwin

27th Jan. 1895 - 20th Aug. 1949

Sarah Geraldine

5th Sept. 1897 – 22nd July 1975

Alice Mary

28th Aug. 1902 - 22nd Feb. 1951

Letita died in her infancy.

Eva Lucy, shown 2nd from right was soon to be called home to God at the tender age of 13, 21st May 1907.



Tenement Dwellers – Chancery Lane

“He used to walk up and down Whitefriar Street in front of these houses and he’d be proselytising [i.e. picketing] and just saying the rosary all the time. Mr Duff tried to take the girls from these houses [i.e. persuade the girls and enable them to leave] and he’d walk up and down all day praying and saying the rosary. But he never interfered with them. Frank was a very, very nice young man – he’ll be beatified, sometime.” May Hanaphy, Dublin Tenement Life, p.219


Photo taken on Station Island, Lough Derg. Frank Duff, second from right, standing behind his sister. His mother/Mrs James Connolly is fifth from right, 2nd row, wearing dark hat. 1916.


Frank at Lough Derg, Pettigo, Co. Donegal. His first trip there was in 1915. He went on pilgrimage here every year for 49 years. He said it was more difficult every year! He had to give up at 74 years of age due to a serious illness. c. 1920’s.


Frank Duff with Frs. Creedon and Toher, two of the early Legion spiritual supporters and campaigners

The Legion of Mary is a Parish Based Organisation.

The Laity have a vital role in supporting the vocation of every priest, especially the priests of the local parish.

This is the Church.

This is the original 1921 altar of the Legion of Mary. It was around this altar that Frank Duff and all the ladies as well as Fr Togher knelt down to pray to our Lady to guide them in serving her in a better way. Out of this gathering developed the worldwide Legion of Mary we have today.

Tony Macri in his barber shop with a wood burning Legion representation, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Stained Glass reproduction at the Legion Center, formerly St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Fort Walton Beach, Florida.


Frank said to Mary Rowe at the Regina Coeli hostel one day that if he ever got married he would lose his religion because he would be so intensely wrapped up in his children.


Frank Duff in 1936 with Mary Everett, Vice-President of the Senatus of India. The first Legion Praesidium in India was started by Mrs Muriel Mackenzie Smith and met in the Little Flower Convent, Teynampet, Madras, on the 2nd of February 1931 (Maria Legionis 9th of 1964)


His bicycle was his chief mode of transport.

Frank’s driving career was very short.


Back Row: (?), Tom Cowley?, Noel Murphy, Alfie Lambe, Fr. Toher, Seamus Grace, Frank Duff, John Boyne (with hat), Jack MacNamara, Jack Nagle

Outside Regina Coeli Hostel. c.1952

Front Row: Paddy Sanfey, Paddy Stenson, Tom Doyle, Sid Quinn, Anne Heade, Bert Niall, Andy O’ Higgins (standing on right)


On one of his many summer outings to Mount Melleray.

Doris Hansard, Frank Duff, Frankie Morris and Brendan Crowley


Having a word with the President of Ireland, Eamon de Valera at the conferring of his Honorary Doctorate by the National University of Ireland.

In 1956, Frank received The Marianist Award from Dayton University, Ohio.


Sally Sharkey, Peg McDonnell, John Nagle, Frank Duff and Maria Diepen, envoy to South America. c. late 1950’s


Fr. Francis Jordan, former indoor brother Morning Star Hostel giving his first blessing to Fr. Kelly and Frank Duff.

Ordained 19th June 1960


The sprockets on tour!

Frank Duff, Eileen Sheehy (Boylan/Billane) - Africa, John Gavin, Una Twomey - Bolivia and Eileen O’ Connor


‘The Big Six’ – Frank Duff at the Garden Centenary Party Reunion of Blackrock College Students on 10th July 1960, with from left to Right – Dr. C Heerey CSSp., Archbishop of Onitsha, Mgr. Alfred O’ Rahilly, Cardinal D’Alton, Primate of Ireland, Eamonn de Valera, Uachtarán na hEireann and Dr. John Charles McQuaid, Archbishop of Dublin.


Throughout his life, Frank Duff was a prodigious writer.

He authored around 200 published articles, reproduced in collected form in 5 books; His first work Can We be Saints? is itself a masterpiece; and, ranking among the spiritual classics is, of course, the Legion Handbook, to date translated into at least 75 languages.

It is estimated that he wrote around 30,000 letters. There are around 2,000 handwritten scripts of his Congress and Reunion addresses, allocutios and talks, also on file.


John Murray, Brian McKeone, Archbishop John Charles McQuaid of Dublin, Jimmy Cummins & Frank Duff – c. early 1970’s


Outside Regina Coeli Hostel. Late 1970’s.

Still Holding on!

…to his ideals, apostolic zeal and action.


The Spirituality of The Servant of God, Frank Duff

Frank prayed the entire Office of the Church every day.

He attended one if not two Masses daily.

Made an annual retreat in Mount Melleray, a Cistercian Monastery and an annual pilgrimage to Lough Derg.


The Spirituality of The Servant of God, Frank Duff

Can We be Saints? (1916)

True Devotion to Mary

The De Montfort Way (1937)

Legion Handbook


The Spirituality of The Servant of God, Frank Duff

If the sum of the experiences of those who teach and understand and practise the True Devotion is of value, it seems unquestionable that it deepens the interior life, sealing it with the special character of unselfishness and purity of intention. There is a sense of guidance and protection: a joyful certainty that now one’s life is being employed to the best advantage. There is a supernatural outlook, a definite courage, a firmer faith, which make one a mainstay of any enterprise. There is a tenderness and a wisdom which keep strength in its proper place. There is, too, the protectress of them all, a sweet humility. Graces come which one cannot but realise are out of common. Frequently, there is a call to a great work, which is patently beyond one’s merits and natural capacity. Yet with it come such helps as enable that glorious but heavy burden to be borne without faltering. In a word, in exchange for the splendid sacrifice which is made in the True Devotion by selling oneself into the species of slavery, there is gained the hundredfold which is promised to those who despoil themselves for the greater glory of God.

Legion Handbook, 1993 Edition, p.39.


Favours received through the intercession of The Servant of God, Frank Duff

Serious cancer diagnosis and pending operation cancelled. - Ireland

Total lifting of depression - Netherlands

Medical exams passed - Italy

Severe continuous bleeding stopped - Ireland

Complete recovery from illness and return to faith - Nigeria

Entrance to University obtained in difficult circumstances - Vietnam

4 month old baby recovery from pneumonia - USA

Return of grand-daughter who had left with undesirable people - USA

Malignant oesophagus tumour - inoperable - complete recovery - Ireland

cf. Maria Legionis, No.2, 2002.