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Synopsis of the History of the Legion of Christ
INTERNATIONAL | Who We Are
The Legion of Christ began in the basement of this house.
The Legion of Christ began in the basement of this house.

The following is a brief chronology of the most important dates in the history of the Legion of Christ. For a more detailed account, we recommend consulting the history article on the Regnum Christi web page, as well as the article on the Legion´s geographical expansion.

1941
On January 3rd, Fr Marcial Maciel (1920-2008) founds the Legion of Christ in Mexico City.

1946
In an audience on June 12th, Pope Pius XII says that the new religious congregation must contribute to the formation of Catholic leaders, especially in Latin America.

In September, the first group of Legionaries leave for Spain to study at the Pontifical University of Comillas.

1948
On May 25, the Holy See grants the canonical approval Nihil Obstat to the Legion of Christ.

On June 13, the new congregation of the Legionaries of Christ is established by Bishop Alfonso  Espino y Silva, bishop of Cuernavaca, Mexico.

1950
The Major College of the Legionaries of Christ is established in Rome. Today it is the general directorate of the Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi.

1954
The Cumbres Institute (a school) opens in Mexico City. It is the first apostolate of the Legion of Christ.

1959
The first draft of what will be the statutes of a movement for lay people is drafted. Shortly after, the name Regnum Christi (Kingdom of Christ) is chosen.

1963
The Interamerican Cultural Center is inaugurated in Mexico City for the formation of lay people.

1964
Opening of the Anahuac University in Mexico City.

1965
In February, Pope Paul VI
60 Legionaries of Christ receive their priestly ordination from Pope John Paul II in January 1991.
60 Legionaries of Christ receive their priestly ordination from Pope John Paul II in January 1991.
grants definitive approval to the Legion of Christ with the Decretum Laudis (Decree of Praise).

1966
The first Mano Amigo School for underprivileged children is opened in Mexico City.

1970
Pope Paul VI entrusts the Legionaries of Christ with an extensive mission territory in the Riviera Maya of Quintana Roo, Mexico. This mission territory is now the Prelature of Cancun-Chetumal.

1970 - 1980
In teamwork with the lay people of Regnum Christi, many works of apostolate are born, such as the ECYD clubs (Education, Culture, and Youth Development) for adolescents, FAME (Familia Mexicana), the Alpha-Omega center for counseling, Escuela de la Fe, ANSPAC (Asociación Nacional pro Superación Personal, A.C.), etc.

1983
On June 29, the Holy See gives its definitive approval to the Constitutions of the Legion of Christ.

1991
On the 50th anniversary of the foundation of the Legion of Christ, Pope John Paul II ordains 60 new priests in St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican.

The International Pontifical College Maria Mater Ecclesiae is founded for the formation of diocesan priests in Rome.

1993
On September 15, the Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum is established. Later, John Paul II will grant it the title of “Pontifical.”

2004
On November 26, the Holy See grants definitive approval to the Regnum Christi Movement Statutes.

On the same day, John Paul II entrusts the care and management of the Pontifical Notre Dame of Jerusalem Institute to the Legionaries of Christ.

2005
During the Third General Chapter of the Legion of Christ, Fr Álvaro Corcuera, LC, is elected as the new general director.

2006
The Legion of Christ founds its first communities in the Philippines and in South Korea.

A canonical investigation by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith reaches sufficient moral certainty to impose
Father Alvaro Corcuera, general director of the Legionaries of Christ since January 2005, with Pope Benedict XVI.
Father Alvaro Corcuera, general director of the Legionaries of Christ since January 2005, with Pope Benedict XVI.
grave canonical sanctions on Fr Maciel, corresponding to the accusations made against him, including the sexual abuse of minor seminarians. Taking into account the advanced age and delicate health of Fr Maciel, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith decides “to forego a canonical trial and invite the priest to a reserved life of prayer and penance, renouncing all public ministry. The Holy Father approved these decisions.”

2008
On January 30, Fr Marcial Maciel passes away in Jacksonville, Florida. His mortal remains are laid to rest in his hometown, Cotija de la Paz, Michoacán (Mexico).

At the time of the founder’s death, the congregation has 750 priests and 2,500 aspirants to the priesthood from 39 nationalities. There are 127 Legionary communities in 21 countries and close to 70,000 Regnum Christi members, including 1,000 consecrated members. About 131,000 students attend its schools and universities.

Also during this year, the Legion of Christ opens its first communities in El Salvador and Hungary, thus continuing the service that the Regnum Christi Movement was already offering in family, social, educational, and youth ministry in those countries.

2009
After a gradual internal process of gathering information, the congregation of the Legionaries of Christ publicly confirms that Fr Maciel had a daughter in the context of a prolonged and stable relationship with a woman, along with other gravely reprehensible behaviors. Some months later, the communications media present two other people, siblings who state that they are sons of Fr Maciel by his relationship with another woman.

In March, Pope Benedict XVI decides to initiate an apostolic visitation to the institutions of the Legion of Christ to help the congregation overcome its existing difficulties. The apostolic visitation, carried out by five bishops, begins on July 15.

2010
On March 25, the superiors of the Legionaries of Christ and Regnum Christi once again publicly and formally express their deep sorrow for the gravely reproachable conduct of the Founder.  At the same time, they renew their commitment to continue deepening their understanding of their history, charism and spirituality and to undertake a journey of renewal under the guidance of the Church.

Upon concluding the Vatican’s investigation, Pope Benedict XVI decides to continue accompanying the Legionaries of Christ.  To this end, on June 9th, the Pope names then-Archbishop Velasio De Paolis as the Pontifical Delegate, who will guide the Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ on its journey of revision and renewal.  At the same time an Apostolic Visitation (another Vatican-led investigation) of the consecrated members of the Regnum Christi Movement is announced. 

On October 20, at the end of a general audience in St. Peter’s Square, the Holy Father announces the celebration of a public consistory for the creation of 24 new cardinals which would take place on November
Pope Benedict XVI with Archbishop Velasio De Paolis, CS.
Pope Benedict XVI with Archbishop Velasio De Paolis, CS.
20th.  Among the new cardinals is Archbishop Velasio De Paolis.

2011
In January, Cardinal Velasio De Paolis announces the expansion of the General Council of the Legionaries of Christ by two new members: Jesús Villagrasa, LC, and Juan José Arrieta, LC. 

During this year, all the Legionaries of Christ participate in the process of reflection on and revision of the Constitutions.  We are working towards a text that will help us to live the charism of the Legion and Regnum Christi better and, above all, to experience a deep renewal so as to live the Gospel more fully and authentically.

In June, Bishop Ricardo Blázquez concludes the Apostolic Visitation to the consecrated members of Regnum Christi.  In October, Cardinal Velasio De Paolis reflects with them regarding the journey that lies before them, after having seen the report sent by Bishop Blázquez. 

2012
In January, the consecrated men and women of Regnum Christi begin an illuminative phase in which they reflect on their way of life in light of the many charisms within the Church.

In February, after a consultation of the entire Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ, Cardinal Velasio De Paolis names Fr. Sylvester Heereman, LC, Vicar General of the Legion of Christ, replacing Fr. Luis Garza Medina, LC.  Fr. Deomar de Guedes, LC, replaces Fr. Francisco Mateos, LC, as a member of the General Council.

In May, new General Directors for the consecrated life are named: Jorge López for the masculine branch and Gloria Rodríguez for the feminine branch.  Their respective councils are also named.


Detailed documentation regarding recent developments related to the mandate of the Pontifical Delegate are available here.