Servant of God Alfie Lambe

 “I travel not as a tourist but as one having intimate friendship with all: rich and poor saint and sinner.”

It would be to underestimate  Alfie to overlook the truth of that last part of his self description on his 24th birthday, as someone having intimate friendship with all, rich and poor, saint and sinner. How true this was, is reflected in the many different praesidia he helped to establish, not just among the majority cultures of those countries, but within the minorities, and among those another might overlook:

  • In Columbia bringing together well-to-do girls to visit street girls. 
  • In Equador seeing to it that the legion prayers were translated into Quechua, the dialect of the Indians, so that Praesidia could be established among them in the city of Quito. 
  • Among the lepers and in the state Penitentiary among the prisoners. 
  • In Poland among Polish and German immigrants. In Bolivia among communists.

Alfie lived Our Lady’s ” let it be done unto me according to God’s Word”.  What then was the secret of Alfie’s success?  How do we understand the effect of this young Irishman on Prelates, Priests the powerful and the poor?

“Living the Legion” was a favourite phrase of Alfie’s, by which he meant allowing the spirit of the Legion to touch and influence every aspect of his life. And the spirit of the Legion is the spirit of Mary- a spirituality rooted.

A spirit like that of Our Lady, whose instinct is apostolic so that the Annunciation prompts the Visitation. A spirit that moulds the mind and heart and body to be and do all for God and God alone. And yet a spirit that like Our Lady’s own has an eye to detail to see and respond to the plight of those in trouble or overlooked, “They have no wine.”

In Alfie Lambe converged the apostolic spirit of Our Lady that led to much being done with her spirit of discipleship that attends to minorities and those who are overlooked – quantity and quality born of the spirit of Mary that simply says “Be it done” and inspires others to do likewise, “do whatever He tells you. “

Once when asked about living the Legion Alfie summed it up as follows, ” I believe one has simply to go on doing what one is doing at the moment.  I just do it.”  It is a sentiment very close to that of our Lady who wanted what God wanted to be done at each moment  and who asked others to do what her Son asks of us at each moment.  To a Legionary who regretted not receiving the Sacraments as often as she should, Alfie simply counselled: “Begin now.” 

His faith enabled him to believe that nothing was impossible, that all could be achieved if only we do our best now in the situation and circumstances we find ourselves. His approach was not to see the problem, rather to bring to bear the solution. 

And that hopeful outlook born of faith transformed people and places that were hitherto closed to the Legion. Of the situation in Equador Alfie commented:

“In Equador there is no Communist problem, there is only a Catholic problem”

Life and Works of Alfie Lambe

The Servant of God, Aiphonsus Lambe,(known as Alfie) was born in Tullamore, Ireland on the feast of St. John the Baptist,Friday, 24th June 1932, during the International Eucharistic Congress in Dublin.

Like St. John he was a precursor – the precursor of the Legion of Mary, which Pope Paul VI described as “the greatest movement which has been established for the good of souls since the era of the great religious Orders”.

After spending a period of his youth in the noviciate of the Irish Christian Brothers, which he had to leave because of delicate health, he found his vocation in the Legion of Mary, and was appointed Envoy in 1953. With Seamus Grace, he left for Bogota, Colombia on the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (16th July) of that year.

For almost six years he worked ceaselessly in promoting the Legion of Mary in Colombia, Argentina, Ecuador, Uruguay and Brazil. After a short but grave illness he died in Buenos Aires on the feast of St. Agnes, 21st January 1959.

God had bestowed on him great natural gifts, a personality which attracted souls to the service and love of God, an infectious enthusiasm, and a facility for learning languages, which enabled him to rapidly attain fluency in Spanish and Portuguese.

During his years in South America he set up a great number of branches of the Legion of Mary, and trained a multitude in the apostolate of the Legion. His devotion to Mary was outstanding, and in contacts with Legionaries and others he explained and urged the practice of the True Devotion to Our Lady.

He is buried in the vault of the Irish Christian Brothers, in the Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires.

Cause for Beatification

The following is extracted from Maria Sofia del Prado’s book Alphoso Lambe, Servant of God, Buenos Aires, 1989, pp.62-64.:

• Popular devotion to Alfie Lambe has been noticeable in Buenos Aires since 1978. In 1979 the Concilium appointed Maria Sofia del Prado as delegate in charge of his cause in Argentina. A considerable number of testimonies having been gathered, the Legion of Mary considered it opportune to name a Postulator.

On the occasion of my visits to the countries [he visited] I had the opportunity to converse with Legionaries who had known Alfie and so I was able to witness with what fervour and emotion they remembered him as also how they spoke of the holiness of his life and the example of his virtues.

Taken from Concilium Legionis Mariae website:

The Cause for Canonization of Alfie Lambe was introduced by the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires in 1978.  Like Frank Duff, Alfie Lambe has been designated Servant of God by the Pope and additional material is being gathered about his heroic and virtuous life to support the title Venerable.  Two miracles attributed to his intercession would be needed to designate him a Saint.  The final decision on beatification is made by the Pope.

Prayer for the Beatification of Servant of God Alfie Lambe

O God, who by your infinite mercy inflamed the heart of your servant, Alphonsus Lambe with an ardent love for you and for Mary, our Mother; a love which revealed itself in a life of intense labour, prayer and sacrifice for the salvation of souls, grant, if it be your will, that we may obtain, by his intercession, what we cannot obtain by our own merits. We ask this through Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen 

Taken from Concilium Legionis Mariae website: