Globally, Catholics observe October as the universal month of the Holy Rosary. It was Pope Pius V, a Dominican pontiff, who declared October 7 the feast of Our Lady of Victory, now known as the “Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary”.
The Rosary of Our Lady is not a weapon of physical destruction but a weapon of victory. I will tell you why.
Believe it or not, the EDSA peaceful revolution in the Philippines in 1986 was a miracle. The miracle of the EDSA has been compared to the Battle of Lepanto in the 16th century and the battles of La Naval de Manila in the 17th century, when Mary’s intercession through the prayer of the Holy Rosary repelled the Dutch Protestant forces in their attempts. to invade the Philippines in 1646. The battles of La Naval de Manila were fought at sea, while EDSA was won on the highway. The Battles of La Naval de Manila repelled a non-Catholic aggression, while the EDSA overthrew an oppressive dictator. From a Christian perspective, I dare say it, these battles were battles between good and evil, and good won – therefore, a victory.
At EDSA, the intercession of the Virgin Mary caused a million people in prayer, with roses and rosaries, to block the advance of military forces. At La Naval de Manila, the lower navy fired against higher forces, and the Catholics won. At EDSA, the advancing superior forces were ordered to shoot but did not, and the Filipino people won. The most important fact remains that, through the power of the people, the Filipinos achieved the impossible and brought down a seemingly unwavering strong man.
Joseph Stalin’s joke to French Prime Minister Pierre Laval in 1935: “The Pope! How many divisions does it have? It was deliberate sarcasm to point out how the hell any spiritual institution could do anything to help thwart the growing military threat of Nazism. But in ancient times, I mean, in medieval times and early modern times, the Pope had an army. And all the armed forces of the Catholic nations of Europe have allied themselves against the Muslim invaders. In this context, we will better understand another story of a sweet victory wrought by the Holy Rosary.
The Ottoman Empire, spanning over 600 years, grew into one of the most powerful states, and Ottoman warriors became ruthless conquistadors of the world during the 15th and 16th centuries. The Ottoman period did not end until 1922, when it was replaced by the Turkish Republic and other nations in southeastern Europe and the Middle East.
With the increase in Ottoman Muslim incursions into Europe, the Spanish Dominicans or the Preaching Orders founded by Santo Domingo de Guzman went on the defensive by promoting the Holy Rosary as a weapon against the Ottoman Turks. On October 7, 1571, the Holy League, a coalition of European Catholic states, sailed from Messina, Sicily, and encountered a powerful Ottoman fleet at the Battle of Lepanto in what is known as the greatest naval battle in western history which involved over 400 warships. , mainly from the Ottoman fleet. Knowing that Christian forces were inferior and disadvantaged, Pope Pius V, a Dominican, called on all of Europe to pray the rosary for victory. He left the Apostolic Palace to personally lead a Rosary procession in Rome.
The Spanish military commander John of Austria (1547-1578), leader of the Catholic League, kept a statue of the Virgin on his ship, while the Dominican chaplains of each warship actively encouraged all sailors to recite the Rosary. In short, the Catholic naval forces inflict a major defeat on the Ottoman fleet.
After the miraculous defeat of the Ottoman enemies, Pope Pius V officially made the victory public and that, he stressed, the victory was due to the fervent prayer of the Holy Rosary by the faithful. Subsequently, the Dominican Pontiff proclaimed October 7 the feast of Our Lady of Victory, later changed to “Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary”.
José Mario Bautista Maximiano (facebook.com/josemario.maximiano) is the author of Spiritual Man: Christian Anthropology (St. Paul’s, 1995), Why Remain a Catholic? (St. Paul’s, 1994) and The Signs of the Times and the Social Doctrine of the Church: An Epistemology (Salesiana, 1991).