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Catholic Dictionary




A general name for a confraternity or pious association. The term was used already in early Christian times for voluntary groups of the faithful who sought to work together with like-minded people for the strengthening of their own religious commitment and advancing the Kingdom of Christ to others. Sodalities are numerious in the Catholic Church, devoted to a variety of spiritual and corporal works of mercy. The Sodality of the Blessed Virgin was founded in Rome (1563) by Rev. John Leunis, S.J., for the students at the Roman College. At the time of its quadricentennial, the Sodality of the Blessed Virgin was established in more than one hundred countries. During the first four centuries of its existence, it had deeply influenced the lives of several million persons, through the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, Devotion to Mary, and the active apostolate in the world. Many canonized saints had been Sodalists, including St. Francis de Sales, whose Introduction to the Devout Life for the laity is a practical expression of the Sodality way of life. In 1971 the Sodality became a new organization, the Christian Life Communities. (Etym. Latin sodalitas, fellowship, brotherhood, from sodalis, fellow, intimate.)