The Battle of Lepanto – October 7, 1571
It was the sixteenth century, and the Body of Christ was being attacked from all sides. On one side, poor innocent believers were falling to an enemy from within the Church. The Church in Europe would lose 6,000,000 of her most precious, faithful children to heresy. As they did not know what was happening, they did not fight. They did not pray for our Mother Mary’s intervention. And so, they were lost to us. Praise God, they are now coming back home to their Church, and they are so very beautiful. Could it be the many rosaries said by their families and friends?
As this sneak attack was going on, other enemies of the Church were attacking. Turkish forces were overtaking much of Christian Europe. As this wave of followers of Mohammed invaded a country, they not only took lives, they took souls. The name of Christ was not heard in these lands for up to 700 years. They knew that they would never be able to subjugate their conquests unless they could take away all hope. Had Satan told them of his motto over the gates of hell, “All you who enter here, abandon all hope.”
But they were not victorious where people prayed! The Turkish fleet was attacking Austria. The Austrian fleet under Don Juan was no match against the superior Turkish fleet. It looked as if another country would be lost to Islam. Her family is in danger? They need her? Mary to the rescue! Pope Pius V sent out word to the forces of Christ, to pray the Rosary. A Rosary Crusade was waged on the knees of the faithful, and the battle was won.
To the eyes of the world, the Austrian fleet was outnumbered. But there was a powerful general that could not be seen by human eyes. It was Mary and her Heavenly Army of Angels! Although the Austrian fleet appeared finished, they were not. They were joined by the Angels, with Michael the Archangel in front. Swords of faith drawn, they were poised, just waiting for their Queen’s command. The Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe was placed at the helm of the ship leading the Austrian fleet into battle, to victory.
Man’s weapons could not defend their land, but roses in the form of rosary beads moved Jesus’ Heart and through His Mother Mary, He did the rest. Jesus, I trust in You!
Pope Pius V instituted the Feast of the Holy Rosary after this battle.
We’re in the seventeenth century and the Turkish forces are still forging ahead, hell-bent on conquering and subjugating all of Christian Europe. We find ourselves in Vienna, in 1683. The Emperor of Austria’s forces are exhausted and discouraged. They are badly outnumbered and weary from battle. The Emperor in a last ditch effort, sends word to King John Sobieski, Sovereign of Poland, imploring his help.
Now, this was not the first time that King Sobieski faced overwhelming odds in battle. But the pendulum swung so overpoweringly in the enemy’s favor, he did not know if this was to be his death rather than his victory. As the Turkish invaders were converging on Vienna, King John Sobieski turned to Our Lady of Czestochowa: “Give us victory, My Lady, grant us your help and salvation. As for me, do whatever you choose. I’ll accept your will, whether it’s life or death.”
Suddenly a thought came to him: “Instead of honoring her (Mother Mary), we have passed a lot of responsibility on to her. Seeking honor and glory for ourselves, we’ve left the toil to her. But she has accepted it. I don’t know why she loves us, yet she does love us, even if we repay her with ingratitude and disloyalty.”
“Give us victory,” he prayed, “and let it be your victory alone.” He came before the people and asked them to join him in publicly placing all their trust in Our Lady. He knelt humbly before his Queen, Mary most holy and one by one all the people knelt with him. He began the Apostles Creed, reminding them what they believed, and what so many before them had died for. All the faithful prayed, only now, the prayers took on different meaning. They were no longer just words; they were a battle hymn: This is what we believe; and for this we die, rather than deny our Lord.
As they continued the Rosary, now reciting the Lord’s prayer, the words “thy Will be done” took on new meaning. They were truly commending their lives to the Father, self-abandonment, the trust of children, of whom Jesus said: “The Kingdom of Heaven is theirs”. The King placed his troops and all of Vienna under the protection of Our Blessed Mother. Man, woman and child, peasant and noble, King and soldier all intoned, with one voice and one hope, the supplication, “Mary help us”. And help them, she did.
80,000 Christian troops, with King John Sobieski in front, defeated a fierce Turkish army consisting of 250,000 barbarians.
Now, the Turkish army was known for their inhumane treatment of soldiers and citizens. The mere thought of them approaching a village would bring terror into the hearts of men as well as women. What gave these people the courage to fight and win? The Mother of God, “Mary, Help of all Christians”. What gave them the power and the ammunition to use against the enemy? The Rosary!