Today in Catholic History

Today, is October 7, the commemoration of one of the greatest naval victories in history, the defeat of the Ottoman Islam Turks by the Christian Holy League at Lepanto. Few Catholics are taught today that the Rosary so dear to many of us had its origins in a military victory.

Here is a little write up from the Faith and Family Magazine Blog
Queen Of Victory
Posted by Rebecca Teti on October 07, 2008

Today’s feast of Our Lady of the Rosary is vividly explained here.

Michael Novak sets the scene:

The two greatest naval forces ever assembled — 280 ships in the Turkish Armada, some 212 on the Christian side — came into each other’s sight on the brilliant morning of October 7. So confident was the Turkish admiral, Ali Pasha, that he sailed proudly at the center of his own Armada, bringing with him on vessels just to his rear his entire fortune, and even a part of his harem.
Historians tell us that all over Europe a pall fell. Few had hopes that the Christian fleet could avoid the doom that seemed to hang over Italy.

Well, the Pasha didn’t count on Our Lady, and therein lies a tale, which you must follow the link to read.

You history buffs already familiar with the Battle of Lepanto may not know of its surprising connection to the Patroness of the Americas, Our Lady of Guadalupe. For reasons you can read about here, her image--having been touched to the miraculous tilma of Juan Diego-- was mounted in Admiral Andrea Doria’s cabin.

During the battle, Andrea Doria was compelled to separate from the center force of Christians. Uluch Ali then broke through the gap and was prepared to destroy Andrea Doria’s fleet. Doria knew he was facing destruction, together with his fleet. His was the ship with the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe in his cabin, and the battle was thus under her intercession.
At this critical moment a tremendous wind came up and blew the Turkish navy into total disorganization. Their squadrons were thrown into panic and, thus stricken, most of their fleet was captured or destroyed.
The historian may record this only as fate, telling us, at the same time, that it was the last sea battle fought with oar propelled vessels and enormous casualties. About 8,000 Christians were killed and 16,000 wounded. Among the Turkish fleet, about 25,000 were killed, and it is not known how many were wounded. About 15,000 Christians, who had been chained to the oars in the Turkish galleys, were freed. This victory of Lepanto ended the Moslem threat to Christians.
The pope ascribed the victory to the Queen of the Rosary, since he had sponsored the rosary crusade for victory. He evidently did not know of the Miraculous image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Pope St. Pius V established the Feast of Our Lady of Victory to celebrate the October 7 victory. His successor, Pope Gregory XIII, changed the title of the feast to Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary and decreed that the month of October should be dedicated to renewing the praying of the rosary.
Our Lady had told Juan Diego and his uncle, Juan Bernardino, that she was the Immaculate Conception. Her image aboard Doria’s ship, according to devout Christians, was an instrument of Mary’s moral presence as the Warrior Queen and the Mother of the Church, “fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army set in battle array.”

Isn’t that cool? And all the more reason to renew this year what has become the practice of American Catholics in recent years: to pray to Our Lady for the wisdom of our people as we approach the ballot boxes, and for God’s blessing on our nation and its citizens.

If you’re looking for a way to celebrate the feast (besides praying the rosary!), culinary legend has it that the croissant and the crescent-shaped almond cookie were developed to celebrate Christian victory over the Turk at Lepanto and later at Vienna.

This day was commemorated in Vienna by creating a new kind of pastry and shaping it in the form of the Turkish half-moon. It was eaten along with coffee which was part of the booty from the Turks.

This may or may not be true, but it would still be delightful, no?

At any rate, all this is why October is the month of the rosary.

Our Lady of Victory, Queen of the Rosary & Patroness of the Americas, Pray for us!

P.S. The photo is from a re-enactment of the battle held last year.
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I can only hope that Christianity today will have the courage to stand up for what we believe and fight for our civilization with the same courage our forefathers did.

And of course, here is the Wikipedia entry and picture