Thursday, October 7, 2010

Little House on the Prairie learns about Our Lady's Victory at LEPANTO

"Vivat Hispania!
Domino Gloria!
Don John of Austria
Has set his people free!

Cervantes on his galley sets the sword back in the sheath
(Don John of Austria rides homeward with a wreath.)
And he sees across a weary land a straggling road in Spain,
Up which a lean and foolish knight for ever rides in vain,
And he smiles, but not as Sultans smile, and settles back the blade....
(But Don John of Austria rides home from the Crusade.)"

the closing lines of G.K. Chesterton's poem Lepanto

On October 7th, 1571, the "Holy League", which was comprised of forces from the Papal States, Spain, Venice and some other Italian states and led by Phillip II's brother Don John, fought and defeated the Ottoman Empire in the sea battle of Lepanto. In the 1560s, the Ottomans attacked the Christian mediterranean and quickly defeated the eastern islands. Pope St. Pius V saw the imminent danger and in 1570 called on the leaders of the West to put aside their differences and unite against the force that was a threat to them all. His appeal, however, was made in vain. Queen Elizabeth in England was focused on her rivalry with Spain, France had befriended the Turks in the past and was at the time under the reign of a sickly Charles IX, and Phillip II of Spain was preoccupied with his new American empire. Phillip II, however, did send his brother Don John of Austria with many ships and men. Rallying all the different forces, Don John led them into a very bloody (it is said that the sea was red with blood for miles around by the end of the battle), but victorious battle in which 8,000 Christian soldiers died but more than 10,000 Christian prisoners, that had been enslaved on the Ottoman ships, were freed.

Pope Pius V, had a particular devotion to Mary, and placed his hopes in the Lord and her intercessory powers. He made sure that all the Christian sailors had rosaries and that they all prayed the rosary before going into battle. It is also said that before setting out, Giovanni Andrea, the Genoese admiral, hung in his flagship a picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which had been touched to the original image on Juan Diego’s cloak. It is for this reason that the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary (also celebrated under the name of Our Lady of Victory) falls on October 7th. Apparently, Pope Pius V was in a meeting the moment the battle was won. He immediately rose up and said: "This is not a moment for business; make haste to thank God, because our fleet this moment has won a victory over the Turks.”

I think many meals would be appropriate for this feast day. Maybe something mediterranean? Or Mexican, in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe's intercession. We're having tacos tonight!

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