According to the Legion Handbook, “The visitation of a hospital for the poor was the first work the Legion every undertook and for a while it did no other.” Current legionaries continue this great tradition by visiting the handicapped, the sick, and the old in local hospitals, in nursing homes and even in their own homes.
Legionaries strive to spend quality time with the residents they visit. They lend an attentive ear to the lonely, seek to locate long lost friends or relatives, and help reconnect those who have grown apart through the writing of letters. Many praesidia establish regular days and times on which legionaries will be sent to hospitals or nursing homes to pray the Rosary with the residents.
Legionary visitation should be used to educate the patients to a true conception of their sufferings, that they may bear them in the proper spirit.The Legion Handbook
Legionaries who visit hospitals and nursing homes are well-placed to provide spiritual guidance to those who are suffering. Without a developed spiritual framework, residents of such places often regard their suffering as intolerable. In visiting these residents, legionaries can help them to recognize the value of suffering as a means of being molded to the likeness of Christ, blunting the additional agony of experiencing their suffering as random and meaningless. As St. Teresa of Avila said, God can bestow no greater favor on us than to give us the same sort of life as the one led by His beloved Son. Even the greatest of suffering can be seen as a blessing if one is inclined to understand it in light of the Passion.
Br. Frank Duff suggested that legionaries should “unfold the idea of the apostleship of suffering,” teaching the residents of hospitals and nursing homes to busy themselves in the spiritual affairs of the world and offer up their sufferings for its many needs. As he explained, this would allow them to “conduct a campaign whose force must be irresistible because it is at once prayer and penance.” By helping the residents to develop a personal interest in the things that they are praying for — from their own personal needs to the works of the legionaries — legionaries can provide them with the motivation to persevere in their prayer and spirituality no matter how great their own suffering might become.