October 7th is the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. Pope St. Pius V established this feast in 1573. The purpose was to thank God for victory of Christians over the Muslim Turks at Lepanto. A victory attributed to the praying of the rosary.
In early October 1571 the Turkish Armada was making its way through the Mediterranean Sea. It was an armada of 300 ships and 100,000 men. Their eventual goal was Rome. They were out to conquer the Pope and Christianity. On October 7th, the Christian fleet of 285 ships and 70,000 men went in search of the Muslim navy. They met in the Bay of Lepanto (Present day Naupaktos Greece). The Christian flotilla was in a bad way. The wind was against them, and a heavy fog obscured everything. The Muslims were sure to win. But then things began to change. The wind reversed course and the fog lifted enough for the Christians to see their enemy.
The battle lasted 5 hours. In the end the Christians were victorious. The Turkish navy had lost most of its vessels while the Christians lost only a few. Pope St. Pius V attributed this victory to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Lady of the Rosary. Why? Before battle all the Christian soldiers went to confession, participated in the Sacrifice of the Mass and they all prayed the Rosary. 70,000 men prayed the rosary, which was their spiritual weapon. In Rome Pope St. Pius V had all the citizens in the city and surrounding countryside pray the rosary. They stormed Heaven with their Heavenly weapon of the rosary.
It is well known that, on the evening of the day that the Christians defeated the Muslims, Pope St. Pius V was in Rome in a meeting and received a vision of the victory. While in the middle of discussions in the Vatican, he suddenly broke away from his companions and stared out the window in complete ecstasy as
if he were seeing something tremendous, then he turned back toward his companions with a radiant face to jubilantly yell, “Victory! Victory!” He explained that a great victory had been won that day by the Christian forces. This vision occurred more than two weeks before the official courier from Venice arrived in Rome with the news. The Pope attributed the victory to the Rosary. Pope Francis recently said the rosary is the best weapon against the great accuser, meaning Satan. It is the weapon that wins all battles.
Pope St. John Paul II once said that to pray the rosary is to meditate upon the face of Jesus with Mary. The soul that lives by the rosary makes her way quickly towards a life of union with Christ. And what are, in fact, the mysteries of the Rosary? They are the very mysteries of Jesus, the mysteries of His life, the mysteries of His grace, and the mysteries of His love. The rosary is the
soul truly plunged into Jesus Himself. And to meditate on the face of Jesus, to look into the face of Jesus, is to know you are loved, to know you are forgiven.
In the 2nd Eucharistic Prayer, we pray to live forever in the light of our Lord’s Holy Face. This devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus is a very old devotion instituted for First Friday devotions.
O adorable face of Jesus hidden in the Eucharist – Have Mercy on us.
O adorable face of Jesus which will appear at the end of time in the clouds with great power and great majesty – Have Mercy on us.
O adorable face which will fill the just with joy for all eternity – Have Mercy on us.
With the aid of the Holy Rosary may we always contemplate the Holy Face of our Lord.
Pax et Bonum,
Fr. Christopher J. Ankley