Statue group of
"Our Lady Queen of All Hearts"
in the chapel in Via Romagna, Rome.
In his book True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, no. 227, St Louis Marie expressed the hope that a special Confraternity might be created for those who would consecrate themselves totally to Jesus Christ through the hands of Mary, as he never ceased, in all his preaching and writing, to encourage people to do. His reasons for desiring this are explained in the book by Alphonse Bossard, SMM, To Follow Jesus Christ Through Mary, according to the teaching of St. Louis Marie de Montfort (Rome 2001), pgs. 135-136. This book is available for download here (162 pages).
It was only in 1889, however, that such a Confraternity was established. It was set up originally in Canada, by the then Bishop of Ottawa, J.-Th. Duhamel, for his own diocese, under the title "Confraternity of Mary Queen of All Hearts", with its headquarters in the parish of Our Lady of Lourdes in Ottawa. Its statutes gave its aim as: "the establishment and spread of the reign of Mary in our souls, in order to ensure the perfection of Jesus Christ's reign." The title Mary Queen of All Hearts stems directly from Montfort's heart and mind. As a student at St. Sulpice, he occasionally went to Issy, where Father Tronson had erected a chapel dedicated to "Mary Queen of All Hearts." In 1706, at the end of the mission in Montbernage, an outlying district of Poitiers, Montfort transformed a barn into an oratory and erected there, for the inhabitants of the district, a statue bearing the inscription "Queen of All Hearts." And while preaching a mission at Saint Donatien in Nantes in 1710, he changed the name of a little chapel there to "Queen of All Hearts". And in True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, nos. 37-38, he wrote: "God, having given her [Mary] power over his only-begotten and natural Son, also gave her power over his adopted children, not only in what concerns their body-which would be of little account-but also in what concerns their soul. . . . But as the kingdom of Jesus Christ exists primarily in the heart or interior of man . . . we may call her, as the saints do, Queen of all hearts." Thus the confraternity's choice of title could hardly be more fitting.
The following year, 1890, a second Confraternity was established in the Diocese of Luçon in France, with its headquarters in Saint-Laurent-sur-Sèvre, where St. Louis Marie died and is buried. This was followed by several others around the world, so that by 1965 there were 140 centres worldwide, with memberships ranging from several dozen to thousands. Meanwhile, in 1907, there came into being a priests' section of the confraternity, called the "Association of Priests of Mary Queen of All Hearts." This association had its own statutes, which defined a double goal: "First. The sanctification of their priestly life by the practice of complete devotion to Mary, as taught by Montfort; Second. To make this devotion the greatest means to an apostolate that would establish the reign of Jesus Christ through Mary in each individual, in the family and in society." It was encouraged by Pope Saint Pius X, who had himself inscribed as its first member. It developed in France (particularly because of the Review for Priests of Mary Queen of All Hearts) and also in Italy, England, United States, Canada, Spain, Colombia, Mexico, and Vietnam. Then, by a decree of 28 April 1913, Pope Pius X raised the Confraternity established in Rome to the status of Archconfraternity, and decreed that from then on all branches of the Confraternity around the world would be attached to it. The success of the archconfaternity continued until the middle of the 20th century, when its members numbered around 500,000. However, following on the upheavals of the Second World War, and what could be called the "Marian crisis" subsequent to the Second Vatican Council, the archconfraternity suffered a decline in numbers. In response to these changes, both associations (the Archconfraternity and the Association of Priests of Mary) were given new statutes by a decree of 5 July 1956. The two associations are considered, by a rescript from the preceding year, as "proper to the Company of Mary," in the manner of a Third Order. Vatican Council II inspired renewal in all structures and associations in order for them to open to the Spirit of the new Pentecost. After accomplishing the aggiornamento of its own constitution, the Company of Mary still had to update the statutes of its two associations and to renew the spirit of both organizations. An international commission for Montfortian associations was formed in the late 1980s, and new statutes were proposed and approved for the confraternity, which had now become the Association of Mary Queen of All Hearts. Work on the renewal of the two associations continued until on 26 April 2001 definitive new Statutes were approved by the Holy See (see the Decree of Approval), and the two separate associations were again combined into one, to be known as the Association of Mary Queen of All Hearts. A month later, on 22 May 2001, the Holy See issued a rescript granting a Plenary Indulgence to all those enrolled in the Asssociation 1. on the day of their enrolment; 2. on various other feasts and solemnities (see the Rescript of the Sacred Penitentiary).
According to the Statutes of the Association, as approved by the Holy See in 2001, the nature of this association is such that it "gathers together the faithful, clerics or lay, who, desiring to be witnesses to the truth of the Gospel, intend to live the commitments of their Baptism with the help of a total consecration to Christ through the hands of Mary. To this end, they commit themselves to the perfect practice of true devotion to the Blessed Virgin taught by Saint Louis-Marie de Montfort, whom they choose as spiritual Guide and Master." (Statutes Art. 1)
Further, it is noted that "Organically united to the Company of Mary, the Association of Mary, Queen of All Hearts does not possess any autonomous juridical structure. Its members participate, each in his or her own life situation, in the mission of the Montfortians in the Church: to prepare the Reign of Jesus through Mary. (Statutes Art 2, §1)
It is thus "an 'extension' of the Company of Mary, not in the sense that the Company of Mary would seek to recruit all for itself, but rather that 'in the near or distant future the Blessed Virgin will have more children, servants and slaves of love than ever before, and that through them Jesus Christ, my beloved Master, will reign more than ever in the hearts of men and women.' (TD 113)" (Statutes Art. 2, §2)
"The Association is thus not at the service of the Company of Mary but, with the Company of Mary, at the service of the Queen, the service of the holy Church, the service of souls, the service of the people of God, the service of the Reign of Jesus through Mary". (Statutes Art. 2, §3)
From all this, it is clear that, to be truly a member of the Association of Mary Queen of All Hearts, it is not enough merely to make one's Consecration to Jesus through Mary, nor to see this as a purely private and personal devotion, nor to be merely inscribed in the register of members of the Association; but there must be (within the constraints of one's own state in life) a willingness to promote the reign of Jesus through Mary in the world, and some form of collaboration with the Company of Mary in this mission.
Because the Association is an officially recognised pious association, it has its officially recognised branches, and its officially recognised Directors in various parts of the world. These branches are "erected by the Superior General [of the Company of Mary] or his delegate;" (Statutes Art. 3); and while "the Superior General of the Company of Mary is the Director General of the Association of Mary, Queen of All Hearts, he has the power to name, for the various centres, a national, regional, or local director delegate" (Statutes Art. 4). It is for the Director in any area to receive members into the Association and to inscribe them in the register.
The Statutes state: "The Association of Mary, Queen of All Hearts is open to all the faithful (lay persons, clergy, religious) who desire to engage themselves in the spiritual and apostolic journey proposed by Saint Louis-Marie de Montfort." (Statutes Art. 8) Therefore: "One who, after the necessary formation and preparation, pronounces the consecration to Jesus, Eternal and Incarnate Wisdom, by the hands of Mary, according to the formula of Saint Louis-Marie de Montfort, may be received into the Association. The incorporation is made, following the motivated request of the candidate and acceptance by the Director, at the moment when the consecration is made in the presence of the Director or his delegate and its inscription in the register of the Association" (Statutes Art. 9).
From this, it is clear that, to become officially a member of the Association, five things are necessary:
(Re: 1) With regard to no. 1 above, it is assumed that those wishing to become members of the Association will have read St. Louis Marie's book, True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, or at least The Secret of Mary. Then the Statutes state that "the directors have the obligation to provide directly or indirectly for their [the members'] initial and ongoing formation" (Statutes Art. 7). The Statutes call for the Superior General to "prepare or have prepared a programme or a manual, where he will establish with clarity the stages to cover before the candidate may be enrolled in the Association." This manual is in the process of preparation; until it is finished, there are a number of programmes of Preparation for Consecration which are available:
(Re: 2) The Act of Consecration written by St Louis Marie himself is to be found at the end of his book The Love of Eternal Wisdom. A copy of the formula is available for download here.
(Re: 3) If the regional or area Director of the Association is not available to be present when you wish to make your Consecration, you should write to him to ask him to appoint a delegate (it might be your parish-priest, or a member of the Company of Mary in your area) to receive your Consecration on his behalf. Contact details for Great Britain and Ireland are in the right-hand column of ths page.
(Re: 4) It is best to contact the Director of the Association for your area before you make your Consecration, to make your officiual request to be admitted into the Association, and to be inscribed in the register. A "motivated" request means that you will be expected to give your reasons for joining the Association, bearing in mind the obligations and commitments involved in membership (see below). Again, contact details for Great Britain and Ireland are in the right-hand column of ths page.
(Re: 5) It is not enough merely to be inscribed in the register of the Association - members take on certain obligations when they become members of the Association. See below for details.
These obligations and commitments are described briefly in the Statutes, Arts. 10-12. They can be summarised as follows:
By the decree of 22 May 2001, members of the Association may receive, on the usual conditions (Sacramental Confession, Holy Communion and Prayer for the Holy Father's intentions), a Plenary Indulgence:
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