The Holy Rosary is a prayer with a long history. Throughout the ages countless Saints have stressed the importance of its intercessional power, and the miracles which they attribute to this power are a testament to the truth of their teaching.
One such instance of the power of the Rosary making itself visible on a grand, miraculous scale is in its part in the Battle of Lepanto.
The Battle of Lepanto took place in October of 1571 in western Greece at what could be considered the edge of Western civilization. From the East, the Ottoman Empire was advancing towards Europe with the intention of invading and conquering. The military forces of several European nations united together to meet this threat head-on, to drive out the invaders and defend their land. The European armies, however, were outnumbered – and one might say outmatched – by the Ottomans.
Except for one detail: the European forces were backed by none other than Our Lady herself. During the events of the battle, the pontiff at the time, Pope Pius V, encouraged the faithful throughout Europe to pray the Rosary for the intention of success for the Christian armies. As a result of this, the Christians won a miraculous victory over the invaders, and this victory has since been attributed to Mary’s intercession on behalf of the Christians. The day of this victory in the Battle of Lepanto, October 7th, was made a feast day, the feast of Our Lady of Victory (now known as Our Lady of the Rosary).
The miraculous events of this battle stand as an inspiration for all of us many centuries later. While physical battle and warfare are not as commonplace today as they were in the 1500s, each and every one of us is engaged, to some degree, in a spiritual struggle.
The fight against sin and temptation rages on within our hearts, far more dire and significant than the physical clash of forces at Lepanto, for so much more is at stake in this spiritual combat. Not only do we fight for the souls of each person individually in this battle, but for the whole soul of the Church; in short, we fight to save the world.
And the good news is this: the Battle of Lepanto shows us that we are, beyond all doubt, on the winning side. Just as it was during that clash many centuries ago, in this great spiritual battle the Blessed Virgin Mary is constantly with us, ready to support us, guide us, and carry us to victory for the glory of God.
Even when the odds seem so completely against us, we can always fall back on the command of Pope Pius V, our “marching orders”: take up the Rosary, pray for victory, and trust in the Lord in the great battle of our times.
How has devotion to the rosary helped you overcome a great struggle?