Before playing a sport or competing against others, our children may find their team praying to Our Lady of Victory… families may gather together during the evening to pray a rosary for their intentions… in the 16th century, a European alliance formed to prevent an invasion that could have changed the course of history…
But what do these things have in common? More than meets the eye!
Have you heard of the Battle of Lepanto? Well, this significant naval battle is considered one of the most important in history and gave us the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary that we celebrate this week!
Threatened by the encroaching Ottoman Turks on Western European soil, Pope Pius V and other countries formed an alliance known as the Holy League. On October 7, 1571, the Holy League prepared its naval fleets for battle at Lepanto, along the coast of Greece. Pope Pius knew that they were outnumbered and requested that all Christians in Europe pray the rosary.
In a miraculous result, the Holy League, consisting of only 200 ships, captured or sunk the 300 ships of the Turks. This victory claimed the preservation of Christianity across all of Western Europe.
How does the Battle of Lepanto have significance in our lives? After the victory, Pope Pius instituted October 7 as the Feast of Our Lady of Victory which was eventually changed to Our Lady of the Rosary. This Feast is a strong reminder for us to place our trust in Our Lady’s intercession, especially in the midst of the impossible. It shows us the power of unitive prayer, within our own families, nation, and the entire Church.
So next time you pray the rosary, say an aspiration to Our Lady of Victory, or see the Church united in prayer, think of the Battle of Lepanto and Our Lady’s miraculous intercession!