In 1571, Christianity in Europe was once again threatened by a Muslim invasion on behalf of the Turks. In the face of danger, the Christians came together to defend the Faith. The Pope declared himself head of the league, Marcantonio Colonna as general of the galleons, and Don John of Austria as generalissimo. When the 101 galleons and other small boats went out to meet the Turkish warships, the Pope sent his apostolic blessing and foretold victory. St. Pius V was member of the Order of St. Dominic, and conscious of the power of the Rosary, he asked Christians to pray the Rosary and to fast, asking the Blessed Virgin Mary for her protection and aid in danger. Although the Turks possessed the most powerful fleet in the world, they did not possess an invincible weapon: The Holy Rosary. During the battle, thousands of Christians directed their prayer to the Blessed Virgin Mary, rosary in hand. In Rome, in the Church of Minerva, a Rosary procession was carried out, begging for victory. The prayer was answered! The Christians obtained a miraculous victory, and the triumph increased devotion to the Holy Rosary. In thanksgiving to God for the victory, Pope Pius V instituted the feast of "Our Lady of the Victories," which later became known as “The Feast of the Rosary.” This feast was celebrated on the first Sunday of October, until Pope Pius X fixed the date of October 7. It was the same Pope Pius X who said, “Give me an army saying the Rosary, and I will conquer the world."
The Strength of the Rosary
Our Lady revealed the Rosary as a powerful weapon to St. Dominic when he spent an entire night in prayer. In Fatima and other Marian apparitions, we can see the great importance of the prayer through the frequent invitations to pray the Rosary. From the beginning in Garabandal, Our Lady wanted to do more than just listen to the girls; she also cared for their spiritual formation. She taught them to pray the Rosary and the attitude to have while praying. The same happened in Lourdes: St. Bernadette prayed while the Virgin Mary passed along the Rosary beads. In Fatima, Our Lady pointed out the great value of the prayer in the very first apparition: “Pray the Rosary every day to obtain peace in the world." (May 13, 1917) The Rosary is a prayer that every Christian can pray; it should be a part of our daily life. As we pray it, we ask for the powerful intercession of the Virgin Mary, who listens to our supplications as a mother. God wants a multitude of graces to be poured forth through His Mother and through the Rosary.
The Saints and the Rosary
Many saints have written and spoken about the Rosary and its great value.
St. Pius X: “The Rosary is the most beautiful prayer, the richest in graces of all prayers; it is the prayer that touches most the Heart of the Mother of God.”
St. Alphonsus Liguori: “Of all the homages we owe to the Mother of God, I do not know of one more pleasing than the Rosary.”
St. Pio of Pietrelcina: “Love the Virgin Mary and teach others to love her. Always pray the Rosary.”
St. Thérèse of Lisieux: “All can be achieved with the Rosary.”
St. Charles Borromeo: “Praying the Rosary is the sweetest of my tasks and a true joy, because I know that whilst praying I am with the most kind and generous of all mothers.”
St. Teresa of the Andes: “I entrusted everything to the Most Blessed Virgin Mary. Always pray the Rosary, asking her not only to take care of your soul, but to take care of your concerns.”
The Battle Continues
Today, we are in another Battle of Lepanto. The world with its ideologies wants to put an end to the Faith and to Christianity. We must be faithful and fight to prevent this from happening. It may seem that the enemy’s army is stronger than ours, but that is just the appearance— there is no one greater than God! Yes, we must fight, and we have a weapon with which to do so: the Holy Rosary. Today more than ever, no Christian should let a day pass by without praying the Rosary, asking for peace, peace in the world, in our families, in our hearts. If we pray with faith and with devotion, Our Mother in Heaven will not disregard our prayer.