On the 7th of October, 1571, Europe`s Christian forces had achieved a naval victory against all odds during what is known as the Battle of Lepanto.
The individual who worked hardest to defend Europe from the encroaching Ottomans was Pope St. Pius V, who rallied together the Catholic monarchs of Europe through his blessing and financial backing of the Holy League; a Christian military alliance from various European lands.
On the same day as the battle, countless faithful in Rome took part in public recitation of the rosary for the Holy League`s success. Apart from that, even the men who were on the ships of the Holy League recited the Rosary, and were administered Holy Communion by the priests onboard.
The Holy League would eventually emerge victorious, something which saw the liberation of
thousands of Christian slaves from Ottoman oppression.
St. Pius V deserves more recognition for calling the Kings of Europe to arms in order to defend Christian civilisation from the forces of Islam.
Prior to the Battle of Lepanto, Pius V had already contributed financial support for the erection of fortifications in Malta as well as to various towns throughout Italy. He also contributed greatly to Christian Hungary which was constantly under siege from the Ottoman aggressors.
The Holy League which was set up by Pius V was made up of nations and city states such as Spain, the Papal States, the Republics of Venice and Genoa, the Knights of Malta, the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, and the Duchies of Savoy, Urbino, and Parma. The Holy Roman Empire sought to maintain its truce with the Ottomans whilst the French had already formed an anti-Spanish alliance with them. Therefore, the blessing of commander – in – chief of the fleet of the Holy League was given to Don John of Austria by Pius V himself.
When news of victory reached him, Pius V is said to have burst into tears and was reported to have said, “A truce to business; our great task at present is to thank God for the victory which He has just given the Christian army.” To show gratitude for the triumph over the power of Islam, he instituted the feast of Our Lady of Victory in honour of the role played by the Blessed Virgin in bringing victory to Christian Europe.
Pius V died a couple of months following the victory at Lepanto and would be canonised in 1712 by Pope Celemnt XI.
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