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SODALITY OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY. In 1563, a young Belgian Jesuit, Father John Leunis, formed the Sodality of Our Lady. It spread through the Holy City, into every country of Europe, gathering a group of men with personal consecration to the Queen-Mother.

The first schoolboy Sodalists bound themselves to go to Confession every week and to Communion on the first Sunday of every month, hear Mass every day, make half an hour's meditation, and recite the Rosary in the college chapel after school. Service of the poor was their first triumph. The Sodality gave an emphasis on mental improvement by the holding literary reunions called Academies. At these Academies short plays were written and debates were held on subjects usually religious.

The Roman College Sodality was favoured in 1577 with indulgences granted it by the Pope. The Sodality spread far and wide, and the good it was doing led the General of the Society of Jesus, Father Cladius Acquiviva, who had himself been Director of the Roman Sodality, to ask Pope Gregory XIII to make the Sodality at the Roman College a head Sodality or primaria which could grant to others affiliated with it the privileges and indulgences it possessed. Many other Popes increased the powers and privileges of the Sodality. The most remarkable was the Bull, Gloriosae Dominae of Pope Benedict XIV. It is known as the "Golden Bull" because, in token of special honor for the Mother of God, the seal was not, as is customary, of lead, but of gold.

The growth of the Sodality was not confined to students of Jesuit Colleges. Others also were added who had never been Jesuit pupils. Soon there were Sodalities of priests, nobles, merchants, working-men, clerks, married men, unmarried men, each confined to a particular class of people, and all affiliated to the Prima-Primaria Sodality in the Roman College. For one hundred and sixty-seven years from 1584 to 1751 the membership was open only to men. It was in 1751 that Pope Benedict XIV granted Sodalities of married women and girls. A great increase in membership resulted. This also occurred in 1825, when Pope Leo XII granted affiliation to Sodalities not under Jesuit direction.

The Sodality is not considered a mere pious organization. The first of its rules makes that clear. The Sodality

                  is a religious body which aims at fostering in its members and 
                  ardent devotion, reverence, and filial love towards the Blessed 
                  Virgin Mary. Through this devotion, and with the protection of 
                  so good a Mother, it seeks to make the faithful gathered together 
                  under her name good Catholics, sincerely bent on sanctifying 
                  themselves, each in his state of life, and zealous, as for as 
                  their condition in life permits, to save and sanctify their 
                  neighbor and to defend the Church of Jesus Christ against the 
                  attacks of the wicked."

The primary rule of the Sodality requires, however, that striving for interior sanctity should exist, too, in work for the neighbor. A well-organized sodality will have different sections, each devoted to some particular form of Catholic action, and each Sodalist may chose the one whose activity best suits his opportunities and inclinations. There may be a section of the Sodality whose members will care for their chapel and its altar, or who may be permitted to adorn the altars of the parish church and care for the vestments. A section may be formed whose members will perform the Holy Hour. A useful section might be founded of Promoters of the Apostleship of Prayer or of Promoters of the Pioneer Total Abstinence Association. There is a vast amount of work or the section that will takes on itself the promotion of Closed Retreats. A Conference of the ST. VINCENT DE PAUL SOCIETY is usually established by every Sodality. A section engaged in visiting the sick and those in prison has also been from the beginning one of the characteristic activities of the Sodality.



"Sodality of Our Lady, Online: https://us.search.yahoo.com/search?fr=yhs-invalid&p=Sodality+of+the+Blessed+Virgin+Mary