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Our Lady of the Rosary

The Battle of Lepanto by Paolo Veronese

In the most recent episode of the Considering Catholicism podcast, "Explaining the Rosary to a Protestant," Greg promised a blog post on the history of the Rosary.

Rather than reinventing the wheel, I urge you to read a thorough article on this subject by Sandra Miesel at the Catholic World Report:

In addition, I'll expand on Miesel's account of the true story behind today's feast on the Catholic liturgical calendar: Our Lady of the Rosary. In 1571, the conflict between Christian Europe and the Muslim Ottoman Empire was coming to a head. Pope St. Pius V organized the Holy League, a coalition of Catholic nations, to oppose Ottoman expansion into Europe and to win back control of the Mediterranean Sea. Under the command of Don John of Austria, the navy of the Holy League clashed with the Ottoman fleet near their naval station of Lepanto in Greece on October 7. This happened to be the first Sunday in October, on which the Rosary confraternity honored Our Lady of the Rosary. Pope Pius organized a Rosary procession in Rome and urged Christians throughout Europe to beg for Mary's intercession for victory.

The Battle of Lepanto was the largest naval engagement in history up until that time, and the stakes could hardly have been higher. The fate of Europe hung in the balance. The Holy League won a decisive victory, which Pope Pius attributed to our Lady's prayers. Lepanto was a major turning point in history: it marked the beginning of the end of the Muslim incursions into Europe and greatly boosted the morale of Catholic nations, which were under pressure from both Protestants and Muslims. In thanksgiving, Pope Pius established a feast honoring Our Lady of Victory on the first Sunday of October. The feast was later renamed "Our Lady of the Rosary" and moved to the date of the battle, October 7. Lepanto has loomed large in Catholic memory since the sixteenth century. G.K. Chesterton wrote a poem about the battle that would make for good reading on this feast:

Catholics continue to pray the Rosary for themselves, the Church, their countries, and peace throughout the world. Especially in October, various apostolates organize Rosary initiatives to pray for the United States. Here's a link to several opportunities at Our Lady of the Lake in Holland, MI. If you're not in the area, you can look for something local or pray the Rosary on your own in solidarity with these efforts.

Finally, here are other recent episodes of the podcast that are relevant to the Rosary and Marian devotion:

Pray the Rosary today for the Church and the world!

My name's Cory Lakatos. I grew up Protestant and became a Catholic as a young adult. Now I work for a Catholic parish and am involved with LANE, One Whirling Adventure, and Considering Catholicism. On this blog, I share my perspective on things Catholic, especially topics I considered in the process of converting.

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