7 October, Our Lady of the Rosary
Our Lady of Victory, Battle of Lepanto, 1571
About noon on a 7 Oct 1571,
to the blaring of trumpets and the thudding of drums,
a Christian fleet and the Islamic Ottoman fleet ploughed into each other
on calm water at Lepanto off the mouth of the western Greece Gulf of Corinth.
On the Christian side were the ships and men of the Holy League of Spain, Venice, the Papal States, and the Knights of St John from Malta.
The Holy League was led by John of Austria, son of Holy Roman Emperor Charles I
and brother of King Philip II of Spain.
On the Ottoman side, were the imperial fleets from Istanbul and Gallipoli and the Corsairs from North Africa.
The scale was extraordinary, with some 600 ships and 140,000 – 160,000 men, including a large number chained at the oars.
In but four hours some 40,000 men died, including 25,000 Muslims and 15,000 Christians,
But it was a crushing victory for the Christian forces.
Almost all of the Ottoman fleet was destroyed or captured.
It had an extraordinary psychological effect on Christian Europe.
No Ottoman force had lost a battle in several centuries.
Lepanto demonstrated that they were not unbeatable.
There was an explosion of rejoicing, a deep sense of relief, freedom from an historic inferiority complex.
The effects on the Islamic and Ottoman efforts to conquer Europe
were unnoticed at the time, but they were profound.
After Lepanto there was a massive fleet rebuilding program,
but the expense began the stress on the state system.
The Ottomans turned their back on the sea and the western Mediterranean.
It was one of the decisive battles of history,
because it definitely changed the course of history.
Had the Ottoman won at Lepanto, Western Europe
could have been overrun by Islam through the Adriatic and Italy.
Pope Pius V, who with great difficulty forged the Holy League,
preached the praying of the Rosary for success, which the whole fleet and many in Europe did.
From Rome he saw the battle and its victory in a vision, and proclaimed the day in honor of Our Lady of Victory.
The title was later changed to Our Lady of the Rosary.