|"Battle of Lepanto"|
...it is clearly evident that this form of prayer is particularly pleasing to the Blessed Virgin, and that it is especially suitable as a means of defence for the Church and all Christians..." - Pope Leo XIII
Today we commemorate the triumphal victory in the Battle of Lepanto, thanks to the intercession of Our Lady of the Rosary.
|Rosary Madonna Fresco detail|
Battle of LepantoSource
On October 7, 1571, a great victory over the mighty Turkish fleet was won by Catholic naval forces primarily from Spain, Venice, and Genoa under the command of Don Juan of Austria. It was the last battle at sea between "oared" ships, which featured the most powerful navy in the world, a Moslem force with between 12,000 to 15,000 Christian slaves as rowers. The patchwork team of Catholic ships was powered by the Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Knowing that the Christian forces were at a distinct material disadvantage, the holy pontiff, St. Pope Pius V called for all of Europe to pray the Rosary for victory. We know today that the victory was decisive, prevented the Islamic invasion of Europe, and evidenced the Hand of God working through Our Lady. At the hour of victory, St. Pope Pius V, who was hundreds of miles away at the Vatican, is said to have gotten up from a meeting, went over to a window, and exclaimed with supernatural radiance: "The Christian fleet is victorious!" and shed tears of thanksgiving to God.
|"Legend of the Rosary of St. Dominic by Geergen tot Sin Jans|
Even before that time, prayers to the Rosary were instrumental in defeating heresies and other enemies of the Church.
"...who will not remember how great trouble and grief God's Holy Church suffered from the Albigensian heretics, who sprung from the sect of the later Manicheans, and who filled the South of France and other portions of the Latin world with their pernicious errors, and carrying everywhere the terror of their arms, strove far and wide to rule by massacre and ruin. Our merciful God, as you know, raised up against these most direful enemies a most holy man, the illustrious parent and founder of the Dominican Order. Great in the integrity of his doctrine, in his example of virtue, and by his apostolic labours, he proceeded undauntedly to attack the enemies of the Catholic Church, not by force of arms; but trusting wholly to that devotion which he was the first to institute under the name of the Holy Rosary, which was disseminated through the length and breadth of the earth by him and his pupils. Guided, in fact, by divine inspiration and grace, he foresaw that this devotion, like a most powerful warlike weapon, would be the means of putting the enemy to flight, and of confounding their audacity and mad impiety. Such was indeed its result. Thanks to this new method of prayer-when adopted and properly carried out as instituted by the Holy Father St. Dominic-piety, faith, and union began to return, and the projects and devices of the heretics to fall to pieces. Many wanderers also returned to the way of salvation, and the wrath of the impious was restrained by the arms of those Catholics who had determined to repel their violence..."
|"The Celebration of the Rosary" by Albrecht Dürer|
Source: Pope Leo XIII's Supremi Apostolatus Officio
In his encyclical Supremi Apostolatus Officio, Pope Leo XIII also shared what his predecessors had to say about the Holy Rosary:
- Urban IV: "every day the Rosary obtained fresh boon for Christianity."
- Sixtus IV: "redounded to the honour of God and the Blessed Virgin, and was well suited to obviate impending dangers;"
- Leo X: "it was instituted to oppose pernicious heresiarchs and heresies;"
- Julius III: "the glory of the Church."
- St. Pius V: "with the spread of this devotion the meditations of the faithful have begun to be more inflamed, their prayers more fervent, and they have suddenly become different men; the darkness of heresy has been dissipated, and the light of Catholic faith has broken forth again."
- Gregory XIII: "the Rosary had been instituted by St. Dominic to appease the anger of God and to implore the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary."
|"Institution of the Holy Rosary" by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo|
Pope Leo XIII wrote another encyclical on the Rosary the year following the first one. In it he wrote:
"In as much as the enemies of Christianity are so stubborn in their aims, its defenders must be equally staunch, especially as the heavenly help and the benefits which are bestowed on us by God are the more usually the fruits of our perseverance..."
"...Care must be taken, therefore, that, in these times of mourning for the Church, the most holy devotion of the Rosary of Mary be assiduously and piously observed, the more so that this method of prayer being so arranged as to recall in turn all the mysteries of our salvation, is eminently fitted to foster the spirit of piety...."
"With respect to Italy, it is now most necessary to implore the intercession of the most powerful Virgin through the medium of the Rosary, since a misfortune, and not an imaginary one, is threatening-nay, rather is among us..."
He also clearly stated how the Church was to observe and commemorate the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary in his encyclical Superior Anno.
"...We therefore decree and make order that from the 1st of October to the 2nd of November following in all the parish churches [curialibus templis], in all public churches dedicated to the Mother of God, or in such as are appointed by the Ordinary, five decades at least of the Rosary be recited, together with the Litany..."Please sure to read it in its entirety!
"...Now, to appease the might of an outraged God and to bring that health of soul so needed by those who are sorely afflicted, there is nothing better than devout and persevering prayer, provided it be joined with a love for and practice of Christian life. And both of these, the spirit of prayer and the practice of Christian life, are best attained through the devotion of the Rosary of Mary..."- Pope Leo XIII's Magnae Dei Matris
"...For We are convinced that the Rosary, if devoutly used, is bound to benefit not only the individual but society at large..."
The Holy Father also wrote a beautiful fourth encyclical on the Rosary entitled Laetitiae Sanctae or Sacred Joy.