Edel Mary Quinn was a Catholic lay missionary who brought the Legion of Mary to Africa. Born in Ireland, she grew up in a comfortable, middle-class family. By chance she was introduced to the Legion of Mary, a Catholic lay apostolate organization founded in 1921. She became a devoted member, later president, of a local branch (or “praesidia”) which met weekly to pray and to report on the work, like visiting the sick and prostitutes and teaching catechism. In 1932, about to become a Poor Clare, Quinn became seriously ill and spent 18 months in a sanatorium. Still of delicate health, but cheerful and determined, she accepted a call from Africa in 1936. Despite immense problems, such as having to deal with the numerous tribal languages, she founded many praesidia and curia (regional committees of praesidia representatives) in Kenya, Tanganyika (Tanzania), Uganda, Nyasaland (Malawi), Mauritius, and Reunion, traveling enormous distances under extremely difficult conditions. In 1941 she collapsed and was hospitalized in South Africa. She resumed work in 1943 but died a year later.
Robert Bradshaw, Edel Quinn–Envoy for Mary (1986); Franck Duff, Les débuts de la Légion de Marie (1993); Léon-Joseph Suenens, Edel Quinn, Heroine of the Apostolate (1907-1944): Envoy of the Legion of Mary to Africa (1954).
This article is reproduced, with permission, from Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, copyright © 1998, by Gerald H. Anderson, W. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan. All rights reserved.