BY DR ANGELO BOTTONE
The report on the Mother and Baby Homes says that “before the 1970s, Regina Coeli was the only institution that assisted unmarried mothers to keep their infant”. Regina Coeli is a hostel in Dublin opened by Frank Duff and run by the Legion of Mary which offered a more humane alternative to the Mother and Baby Homes.
Dr Finola Kennedy, academic and biographer of Frank Duff, in a talk hosted by the Iona Institute described how, from 1930, and very much against the prevailing mood of the time, Frank Duff and the Legion of Mary helped unmarried mothers to keep their babies. He did this with scarce resources and the help of the Legion’s volunteers. This was in strong contrast to the Mother and Baby homes and county homes which sought to separate the mothers from their babies. The Legion’s approach was not judgmental or condemnatory. Duff, the Legion’s founder, very strongly believed in the mother/child bond.