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The Greatest Miracle of the Rosary

Updated: Mar 16, 2022

Lk 11:5-13

Jesus said to his disciples: “Suppose one of you has a friend to whom he goes at midnight and says, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, for a friend of mine has arrived at my house from a journey and I have nothing to offer him,’ and he says in reply from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been locked and my children and I are already in bed. I cannot get up to give you anything.’ I tell you, if he does not get up to give him the loaves because of their friendship, he will get up to give him whatever he needs because of his persistence. “And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. What father among you would hand his son a snake when he asks for a fish? Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?”

Few watershed moments in history match the power and importance of the Battle of Lepanto in 1571. The Ottoman Empire was pushing west. Suleiman the Magnificent had led the Ottoman Turks in terrorizing Europe. It seemed truly like a war for the existence of Christianity. If the Turks had won at Lepanto, the Christian West would lay open for destruction.

Pope Pius V knew the danger and the relative weakness of the West’s forces. The Holy League, comprised especially of forces from Spain and Italy, was smaller and ill-equipped to fend off the larger force of the Ottoman Turks.

Rather than despair, Pope Pius V encouraged all of Christendom to pray the rosary. All over Europe, families gathered to pray the rosary to implore the heavenly protection of Mary. What seemed like an impossible task could only be entrusted to heavenly powers, as earthly powers were sure to fail.

Although the battle began with the wind against the Christian fleet, around noon the wind changed and so the advantage of the battle. The last naval battle fought entirely in boats powered by oars ended in a decisive victory for the Holy League. A lesser military power had to look beyond itself for the cause of the victory. The Holy League had 60,000 soldiers, compared to 84,000 powering the Ottoman galleys and leading the battle. Victory in spite of a great military disadvantage points to a heavenly cause of triumph.

Pope Pius V wanted to recognize the intervention of the Blessed Virgin and called all of Christendom to celebrate Our Lady of Victory. Later, this feast was changed to Our Lady of the Rosary, which we celebrate today.

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