Acronym: MI (Militia Immaculatae)
Date Established: 16 October 1917 (Rome, Italy)
M.I. was founded in Rome at the International College of the Conventual Franciscans — which at that time was the “St. Bonaventure” Pontifical Theological Faculty — by Father Maximilian Kolbe (1894-1941), a Conventual Franciscan and martyr of charity at Auschwitz who was beatified by Paul VI and canonized by John Paul II.
Established as a pious union on Jan. 2, 1922, by the Vicariate of Rome through Cardinal Basilio Pompilj, M.I. was given special attention and care by the popes in the course of its history.
In a brief issued on Dec. 18, 1926, Pius XI granted it indulgences and privileges, and on April 23, 1927, it was elevated to the rank of a primary pious union with the brief “Die XVIII mensis Decembris.”
Under the “altius moderamen” of the minister general of the Order of the Conventual Franciscan Friars Minor, and consistent with the magisterium of the Church, the association grew and spread to different countries.
On Oct. 16, 1997, the Pontifical Council for the Laity decreed the Milizia dell’Immacolata to be an international association of the faithful of pontifical right.
Father Kolbe presented M.I. as a “global vision of Catholic life in a new form, consisting of the link with Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, universal mediatrix with Jesus.”
The association sets out to promote the expansion of the Kingdom of God throughout the world through the work of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, stimulating all to place themselves at her service in her mission as Mother of the Church.
The focus of the spirituality and formation in M.I. is the consecration to Mary, which Father Kolbe intended as “transformation into her”: a style of Christian life which achieves the extreme consequences of love.
There are three key ideas: Mary Immaculate, love, and the mission, to provide formation which commits Christians to grow in an existential dimension (the primacy of the vocation to holiness), an ecclesial dimension (love for the Church and bearing witness to the Catholic faith), a missionary vocation (Christian formation of consciences and the New Evangelization), and a cultural dimension (promoting life by serving people in the Franciscan manner of fraternity, joy, simplicity and hospitality).
The specific areas of unity of M.I. are catechesis, town and city missions, religious instruction courses, Prison Ministry, Marian culture, publishing, radio broadcasting and Informatics.
By its nature, M.I. is a unitary association based in at the international headquarters in Rome, Italy. The organization comprises the Young Knights, the Youth Movement, and Adults.
It is structured into three levels:
- M.I./1 is the movement, with no strict organizational structure where the members mostly act individually and spontaneously, according to the founder’s original project;
- M.I./2 is the movement broken down into groups, whose members work according to the official programs of the movement;
- M.I./3 is the movement at its highest level, at which the Knights choose to fully and unconditionally give themselves to Mary Immaculate, devoted solely to her cause: in the missionary apostolate, in parish service, alone or in active or contemplative life communities, using all legitimate means. This rank is specific to the City of the Immaculate, the executive centres, and the institutes inspired by Father Kolbe.
A significant presence in the association are those who suffer from sickness, poverty, marginalization, and disabilities. They form the M.I. under the Cross. So much suffering, offered as a gesture of consecration to Mary Immaculate, enables the whole association to participate in the mystery of Christ’s redemption, and renews the missionary effort.
Although legally autonomous, at the pastoral level, all the institutes (secular and religious) inspired by Father Kolbe share the same aims and apostolic commitment: the Franciscan Sisters of the M.I., the Sisters Minor of Mary Immaculata, the Franciscan Sisters of the Militia of the Immaculata, the Franciscan Brothers of the Immaculata, the Missionaries-M.I., the Missionary Sister Crusaders of the Immaculata, the Kolbe Missionary Sisters of the Immaculata, the Kolbe Teaching Missionaries.
The MI is present in 48 countries on five continents. From its conception to today it can count 545 canonically erected branches, 27 National Centres, with a total of 4 millions members.
In Canada, there are 15 Villages, which are found in British Columbia (10), Ontario (3), Québec (1), and Prince Edward Island (1). The MI Summerside Village counts 25 active members from Wellington to Montague.
Publications and Works
M.I. does not have any institutionalized works of its own. When necessary it provides voluntary services to meet specific environmental and social needs: for example, the social recovery of alcoholics and drug addicts, and assisting AIDS sufferers, providing medical and nursing care in poor districts, humanitarian care for young needy mothers, literacy courses for adults, after-school activities, and parish catechesis.
It systematically conducts evangelization through the Rede Mariana de Radio e Televisao at Santo Andre (Sao Paulo, Brazil), the printing shop and publishing center Jardim da Imaculada at Cidade Ocidental (Brazil), the Mary town training and dissemination centre at Libertyville, Illinois.
Thirty periodicals in various nations, many with the name “Knight of the Immaculata”, especially recognized as the name of Father Kolbe’s first heading used in Poland and then in Japan.
Of great importance is the journal “Miles Immaculatae”, founded by Saint Maximilian for priests and pastoral workers, which has become the official publication of the International Centre of the M.I. As a “journal of Marian doctrine and Kolbean formation”, with a circulation of 2000 copies, it is published twice yearly and it has become part of the Church’s guide on Mariology.
RADIO, such as: Radio Kolbe in Italy (Sicily and Campania), “Radio Niepokalanów” and “Telewizja Niepokalanów” in Poland, “Radio Inmaculada” in Paraguay.