LEPANTO AND THE ROSARY

In 1570 the Moslem Turks had conquered Cyprus and immediately started to assemble a fleet to attack Italy. They had conquered Constantinople, the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire in 1453; and as a consequence of the terrible wars of Religion that were setting brother against brother north of the Alps, they felt that this was the time to conquer the Capital of the West and so finally dominate and destroy the Christian World.

The Pope of the time, Pius V (born Michael Ghisleri from Alexandria in Tuscany) was a very intelligent and holy man; a Dominican; He found out the Moslem plans and tried to rally the royal houses of Europe to unite against this common foe and to preserve Christianity. All were too busy quarrelling over the spoils wrested from the Church to worry about the Turks. Some, it is a shame to say, were hoping that the Moslems would take Italy and so destroy the terrible Catholic Church. Being unable to rouse the leaders of Europe, the Pope asked for a crusade of prayer. Since he was a Dominican he asked specifically that people pray the Rosary for help. The Catholic people responded with a wave of Rosary processions and other community devotions using the Rosary.

Finally the King of Spain, Phillip II, decided that his possessions in Sicily and Calabria were worth defending so he asked his illegitimate half-brother, Don Juan of Austria, to be the commander of an Allied fleet.

A Christian fleet gathered at the port of Messina in Sicily; it consisted of 206 galleys. Eighty came from Spain and the Spanish possessions in Naples and Sicily; commanded by Marquis de la Cruz. Venice under the command of Augustino Barbarigo contributed 100 galleys and 6 galleases, invented by the Venetians; these were very large galleys on which were mounted heavy artillery. Savoy, Genoa, and the Knights of Malta each contributed 3 gallieys The Order of St. Stephan of Tuscany sent 12 gallieys. These were under the command of Gianandrea Doria the great-nephew of Andrea Doria the famous Genoese Admiral.. There were a large number of galleys from the Papal States under the command of Marcantonio Colonna.

The Holy League had 68,000 combatants, according to some estimates. 40,000 were sailors and oarsmen — largely freemen. The soldIers included 10,000 Spanish who were the finest soldiers in the world at that time.

The Moslem fleet, according to some estimates, consisted of 222 war galleys and 56 galliots. Besides these warships were a number of smaller vessels. It is also estimated that they had 84,000 men of which 37,000 were oarsmen and sailors: most of them captured slaves.

Actually, this was the last (and largest) recorded sea-battle that involved galleys, the use of which went back to the Punic Wars.

The Christian fleet set sail from Messina at the beginning of October/
They encountered the Turks off the Island of Patras on 6 October. The Turkish commanders were eager to engage because they had the advantage of numbers.

The Christian fleet engaged the Turks at close quarters as the Moslems were trying to pass through the straits of Lepanto to the wider seas where they could maneuver.

On the evening before the battle, Marcantonio Colonna had himself rowed from ship to ship and blessed each one with a picture of the Blessed Virgin Mary. He used a copy of the picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe that had been entrusted to the Jesuits thirty years before!

It is said that on October 7, the Pope was consulting with his Cardinals when, suddenly, he got up and walked over to the window. He was silent for a moment, then turned back to the Cardinals and announced that there had been a great victory. Then he sang with them the TE DEUM with tears running down his cheeks.

Indeed there had been a great victory–totally unexpected. The Christians lost 20 ships and about 7.500 men. The Turks had lost 210 ships, including 117 galleys. Their casualties amounted to the vicinity of 18,000 . The Christians released 30,000 Christian galley slaves from the Turkish fleet.

There are varying estimates as to the number of men involved in the battle. However the total on both sides came to eat least 120,000 To have a complete victory when so many warriors are involved and have only 7,500 casualties is a miracle hard to explain.

The Turks in a few years rebuilt their shattered fleet however the loss of experienced sailors and soldiers crippled their naval actions so that from that time they avoided direct battle with the Christian fleets. Many historians see this as the turning point in the unchecked growth of Islam under the Turks.

Believe it or not, among the few units of the Turkish fleet that survived was a small squadron commanded by a turncoat Calabrese! He broke free from the battle and sailed to a small port on the shore of North Africa. He and his men took the town and he installed himself as the Pasha. What happened to him after that is not recoded.

The Moslems never again tried to attack Christendom by sea. The Pope was convinced that it was a miracle and thus instituted the first Sunday in October as the Feast of the Holy Rosary in honor of Our Heavenly Mother who is working in the world and protects us by the Power of God who is using her in this final battle against the evil one.

Rev. F.P Filice

.

LEPANTO AND THE ROSARY

In 1570 the Moslem Turks had conquered Cyprus and immediately started to assemble a fleet to attack Italy. They had conquered Constantinople, the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire in 1453; and as a consequence of the terrible wars of Religion that were setting brother against brother north of the Alps, they felt that this was the time to conquer the Capital of the West and so finally dominate and destroy the Christian World.

The Pope of the time, Pius V (born Michael Ghisleri from Alexandria in Tuscany) was a very intelligent and holy man; a Dominican; He found out the Moslem plans and tried to rally the royal houses of Europe to unite against this common foe and to preserve Christianity. All were too busy quarrelling over the spoils wrested from the Church to worry about the Turks. Some, it is a shame to say, were hoping that the Moslems would take Italy and so destroy the terrible Catholic Church. Being unable to rouse the leaders of Europe, the Pope asked for a crusade of prayer. Since he was a Dominican he asked specifically that people pray the Rosary for help. The Catholic people responded with a wave of Rosary processions and other community devotions using the Rosary.

Finally the King of Spain, Phillip II, decided that his possessions in Sicily and Calabria were worth defending so he asked his illegitimate half-brother, Don Juan of Austria, to be the commander of an Allied fleet.

A Christian fleet gathered at the port of Messina in Sicily; it consisted of 206 galleys. Eighty came from Spain and the Spanish possessions in Naples and Sicily; commanded by Marquis de la Cruz. Venice under the command of Augustino Barbarigo contributed 100 galleys and 6 galleases, invented by the Venetians; these were very large galleys on which were mounted heavy artillery. Savoy, Genoa, and the Knights of Malta each contributed 3 gallieys The Order of St. Stephan of Tuscany sent 12 gallieys. These were under the command of Gianandrea Doria the great-nephew of Andrea Doria the famous Genoese Admiral.. There were a large number of galleys from the Papal States under the command of Marcantonio Colonna.

The Holy League had 68,000 combatants, according to some estimates. 40,000 were sailors and oarsmen — largely freemen. The solders included 10,000 Spanish who were the finest soldiers in the world at that time.

The Moslem fleet, according to some estimates, consisted of 222 war galleys and 56 galliots. Besides these warships were a number of smaller vessels. It is also estimated that they had 84,000 men of which 37,000 were oarsmen and sailors: most of them captured slaves.

Actually, this was the last (and largest) recorded sea-battle that involved galleys, the use of which went back to the Punic Wars.

The Christian fleet set sail from Messina at the beginning of October/
They encountered the Turks off the Island of Patras on 6 October. The Turkish commanders were eager to engage because they had the advantage of numbers.

The Christian fleet engaged the Turks at close quarters as the Moslems were trying to pass through the straits of Lepanto to the wider seas where they could maneuver.

On the evening before the battle, Marcantonio Colonna had himself rowed from ship to ship and blessed each one with a picture of the Blessed Virgin Mary. He used a copy of the picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe that had been entrusted to the Jesuits thirty years before!

It is said that on October 7, the Pope was consulting with his Cardinals when, suddenly, he got up and walked over to the window. He was silent for a moment, then turned back to the Cardinals and announced that there had been a great victory. Then he sang with them the TE DEUM with tears running down his cheeks.

Indeed there had been a great victory–totally unexpected. The Christians lost 20 ships and about 7.500 men. The Turks had lost 210 ships, including 117 galleys. Their casualties amounted to the vicinity of 18,000 . The Christians released 30,000 Christian galley slaves from the Turkish fleet.

There are varying estimates as to the number of men involved in the battle. However the total on both sides came to eat least 120,000 To have a complete victory when so many warriors are involved and have only 7,500 casualties is a miracle hard to explain.

The Turks in a few years rebuilt their shattered fleet however the loss of experienced sailors and soldiers crippled their naval actions so that from that time they avoided direct battle with the Christian fleets. Many historians see this as the turning point in the unchecked growth of Islam under the Turks.

Believe it or not, among the few units of the Turkish fleet that survived was a small squadron commanded by a turncoat Calabrese! He broke free from the battle and sailed to a small port on the shore of North Africa. He and his men took the town and he installed himself as the Pasha. What happened to him after that is not recoded.

The Moslems never again tried to attack Christendom by sea. The Pope was convinced that it was a miracle and thus instituted the first Sunday in October as the Feast of the Holy Rosary in honor of Our Heavenly Mother who is working in the world and protects us by the Power of God who is using her in this final battle against the evil one.

Rev. F.P Filice A.M.D.G.

.

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