Ecclesiam res et talia sermocinamur -

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Friday, October 07, 2005

Our Lady of the Rosary

Today is one of the most un-pc days of the year. First, it's a Catholic Feast Day. Second, it celebrates Christendom's victory over the Ottomans at the navel battle of Lepanto in 1571. Its anniversary bears remembering as a historical event because it remembers the salvation of Europe from the Mohammedens in a great military engagement. But it is a feast day because of the intercession of Our Lady, sought through the Rosary by thousands of the faithful, that delivered the Turkish fleet to the Papal forces.

The Turks had amassed an enormous fleet that many regarded as invincible. They crushed Christian Cyprus, and continued on towards Italy. Ali Pasha, the Mohammeden admiral, had the skin flailed off the Cypriot governor's body, and hung his corpse from the masthead of his flag ship. Italy was in a panic, as the various Italian states had been too disorganized and too busy with their own squabbles to organize any effective resistence to the continuing advance of the Turks up to this point. At the 11th hour, Pope St. Pius V (whose motto, by the way, now forms this site's title) scratched together a fleet of Venetian, Spanish, Genoese, and Papal ships commanded by John of Austria. The Christian armada was both outnumbered and out armed by Pasha. St. Pius however, blessed the fleet and sent it on its way, meanwhile calling on all of Europe to pray the rosary for the campaign's success.

The details of the battle can be found here, but suffice to say that at a critical point in the battle, the wind shifted, the Catholic forces were able to commit key reserves, and the Ottoman fleet was almost entirely destroyed. Ali Pasha's flag ship was captured (although he escaped), and several thousand Christian galley slaves were freed from Mohammeden bondage. News of the victory was carried to St. Pius V by angelic messengers, and he announced the outcome of the battle to the Roman crowds as it took place.

The great thing about this feast, and about Lepanto, is that it's a celebration of a lot of things that "most people" frown upon celebrating: the use of military force in the defense of society; the love and intercession of the Blessed Virgin; the power and truth of the Church victorious over the decay and error of Islam; the rosary itself, which is such a beautiful, and such a misunderstood, prayer; and heck, the good guys winning. God doesn't abandon us, and neither does His Mother. We simply have to be willing to ask Him for His assistance and be willing to take the steps necessary to acheive his work here on earth.

Also, for a literary take on the battle, see Chesterton's poem about it (whch, both in its poetic style and its being Chesterton, is thoroughly and delightfully not-modern-by-today's-standard).

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