Today is the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary! While it is widely known that October is the month of the Rosary, and it stands to reason that the month should kick off with this feast day, the real story behind the establishment of Our Lady of the Rosary has a very colorful history. It has gone through name changes, date changes, and has its roots in one of the most pivotal battles ever fought. Read on for some of the stunning background of this important feast day:
– The Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary was originally established as the Feast of Our Lady of Victory, in 1571, by Pope Pius V.
– The feast was instituted as a celebration of the pivotal Battle of Lepanto, one of the most famous naval battles in history.
– The Battle of Lepanto featured the combined navies of several Christian states, including Spain, Venice, the Papal States, Genoa, Tuscany, and others, all arrayed against the might of the encroaching Ottoman Empire. Knowing that they were severely outnumbered and outmanned, Pius V called for all of Europe to pray the rosary, even going so far as to lead a rosary procession in Rome. With this, the Catholic world met the Muslim in battle and, with the blessing of the Pope and this dedication to the rosary, came away the victors.
– Many military historians believe that, had the battle been won by the Ottomans, the Turks would have swept through Europe and completed their conquest of the Christian world. After the Battle of Lepanto, Ottoman naval control in the Mediterranean Sea was severely diminished, and they never fully recovered.
– Two years later, Pope Gregory XIII changed the name of the feast to “Our Lady of the Holy Rosary.” It was assigned to the first Sunday in October.
– In 1913, Pope Pius X changed the date to October 7th, the anniversary of the Battle of Lepanto.
– G.K. Chesterton wrote an epic poem about the battle, considered to be one of the finest poems written in the English language
When praying the rosary this month, remember the pivotal role it played in sustaining the Church against invasion and marking such a groundbreaking point in history.