On October 7, 1571 a famous naval battle took place near the Bay of Lepanto off the southwestern coast of Greece. What led up to this famous battle, the last major battle fought by oar-powered ships, was the military might of the Ottoman Turks. They had become the scourge of the Mediterranean Sea capturing Christian ships with their cargoes and turning Christian sailors into galley slaves to pull the oars. So successful had this Muslim force become, that along with their armies, Christian people in Europe were in severe danger of being conquered and being forced to surrender their faith.
Finally, the pope, Pius V, called on the Christian people to gather an armada of ships to engage the Turks in battle. Ships were sent from Genoa, Venice, Naples, Spain, Malta, and even from the pope’s navy under the command of Don Juan of Austria.
When the two navies met, it was in the early morning on this very date. The winds were favorable for the Turks. Moreover, the Turkish fleet was superior in ships and manpower. Things did not look favorable for the Christians. However, at the last minute, the winds shifted in favor of the Christians, they won a decisive victory, and saved Europe from Muslim domination.
What caused the winds to shift? At the time of the battle, the pope and a number of his brother Dominicans were praying the rosary on behalf of the Christians. He, therefore, attributed their victory to Mary’s intercession and dedicated a feast which he called Our Lady of Victory. Later the name was changed to Our Lady of the Rosary and October has been called ever since – the month of the Rosary.
I encourage you and your families to pray the rosary together as we fight to save and preserve our families, our faith, and our religious freedoms which are constantly under attack from the forces of secularism and materialism.
- Fr. Carl