Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Our Lady of Victory

Battle of Lepanto

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.

What you may not know is that one of three admirals commanding the Catholic forces at Lepanto was Andrea Doria. He carried a small copy of Mexico's Our Lady of Guadalupe into battle. This image is now enshrined in the Church of San Stefano in Aveto, Italy. Not many know that at the Monastery of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Spain, one can view a huge warship lantern that was captured from the Moslems in the Battle of Lepanto. In Rome, look up to the ceiling of S. Maria in Aracoeli and behold decorations in gold taken from the Turkish galleys. In the Doges' Palace in Venice, Italy, one can witness a giant Islamic flag that is now a trophy from a vanquished Turkish ship from the Victory. At Saint Mary Major Basilica in Rome, close to the tomb of the great St. Pope Pius V, one was once able to view yet another Islamic flag from the Battle, until 1965, when it was returned to Istanbul in an intended friendly token of concord.


Did you know that Miguel de Cervantes of Don Quixote was at the Battle of Lepanto and was injured?

By 1570, Cervantes had enlisted as a soldier in a Castilian infantry regiment stationed in Naples, then a possession of the Spanish crown. He was there for about a year before he saw active service. In September 1571, Cervantes sailed on board the Marquesa, part of the galley fleet of the Holy League (a coalition of the Pope, Spain, Venice, Republic of Genoa, Duchy of Savoy, the Knights of Malta and others under the command of John of Austria) that defeated the Ottoman fleet on October 7 in the Gulf of Lepanto near Corinth. Though taken down with fever, Cervantes refused to stay below, and begged to be allowed to take part in the battle, saying that he would rather die for his God and his king than keep under cover. He fought bravely on board a vessel, and received three gunshot wounds – two in the chest and one which rendered his left arm useless, resulting in amputation. In Journey to Parnassus, he was to say that he "had lost the movement of the left hand for the glory of the right" (he was thinking of the success of the first part of Don Quixote). Cervantes always looked back on his conduct in the battle with pride: he believed that he had taken part in an event that would shape the course of European history.



steveroni said...

Hey, C&GOP, I only came onto your blog recently, and find it downright enlightening. In Cincinnati years ago we lived in a parish called "Our Lady of Victory". However, our parents decided to join the next parish, St Dominic.

So, I always thought we started off in mortal sin for not obeying the precepts of the church, etc. BUT, I cannot blame anything like that on my waywarded first 40 years.

Why am I writing this? I dunno. Just practicing on my new keyboard, I guess. Anyway, life for me now is FULL of love, peace, serenity, and wouldn't ya know it? HAPPINESS! None of the above is deserved, but it sure is FUN!

Thank you for teaching me about Our Lady of Victory this day.

How come more people do not comment, liking or not, your blog?
Steve E.

catholicandgop said...

Nobody likes me. ;)

Anonymous said...

That is a fascinating story. I didn't know all that. That painting is pretty moving.

Jackie Parkes MJ said...

Interesting post..thankyou.

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Catholic and politically conservative, I graduated with a BA in History (concentration in American) and Political Science. I'm between two parishes; one in Wisconsin that is fairly traditional, and one in Illinois that is fairly liberal. I teach CCD. I work in the food service industry, which basically means I'm working in fast food until I find a better job. I'd like to work for the church somehow. Right now I'm working on getting my teaching certification, although I'm unsure thats the correct path for me. This blog is as random as I am. I hope you enjoy.