mightiest of all Rosary victories was the battle of Lepanto.
The Mohammedans, at the peak of their naval power in the Mediterranean,
threatened to overrun Christian Europe. In this extremity
Pope Pius V formed a league against them. The Christian fleet,
furnished by Venice, Genoa, and Spain was commanded by Don
Juan of Austria.
early as September 17, Pope Pius enjoined the recitation of
the Rosary on all Christendom for the 1569success of the Christian
arms. He had ordered all the churches to have the Forty Hours
Devotion, with public processions and recitation of the Rosary.
On that fateful October 7th, he himself spent the entire night
moving to the attack at Lepanto the Christian sailors devoutly
recited the Rosary while the Papal Legate gave the Apostolic
Benediction to them. For three hours, the sixty-five thousand
men, all of whom had received Holy Communion that morning,
continued to recite the Rosary. Then on each ship general
absolution was given for the last time by one of the chaplains.
The attack began. The wind which had been against the Christians,
suddenly dropped. The battle raged until late in the afternoon,
when the Turks gave way. The victory gave the naval power
of the enemy a blow which it never recovered and ended their
threat in the Mediterranean Sea.
the very first Don Juan ascribed the triumph of his fleet
to the powerful intercession of the Rosary Queen. The Venetian
Senate wrote to the other States which had taken part in the
Crusade: It was not generals nor battalions nor arms that
brought us victory; but it was Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary.
perpetuate the remembrance of this public manifestation of
the power of the Blessed Virgin, Pope Pius V established the
Feast of Our Lady of Victories, to be celebrated annually
on the seventh day of October. The name of the Feast was later
changed to Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary.