October 7 is the Feast of the Holy Rosary. But it wasn’t always called that. This was changed from the Feast of Our Lady of Victory. The reason for the change was more political than spiritual. Catholics didn’t want to remind Muslims of their past defeat. 

On October 7, 1571, a massive naval fleet from the Ottoman Empire was heading towards the Gulf of Patras to invade Greece. This would bring the end of Catholicism in Europe if they succeeded.

During this time, Islam was greatly feared throughout Europe. They seemed invincible and the threat of invasion was a common nightmare for the people. The Ottoman fleet was very powerful and outclassed anything that Catholics could put together. Pope Pius V knew that nothing short of a miracle could save Europe. He called on all of Europe to pray the rosary for victory followed by a rosary procession in Rome led by the pontiff himself.

The naval battle between Catholics and Muslims lasted for 5 hours. In spite of overwhelming odds, the Ottomans were defeated. During the battle, winds shifted in favor of the Catholic navy. Clearly, Our Lady and the power of the rosary brought about this victory. This became known as the Battle of Lepanto since the Ottoman fleet sailed from their naval base in Lepanto.

After the victory, Pope Pius V instituted the Feast of Our Lady of Victory for the Church to celebrate this event and to thank Our Lady for her intercession. Later, Pope Gregory VIII changed the name to Feast of the Holy Rosary in 1573.

The timeless lesson learned from the Battle of Lepanto is that great problems can be solved through the intercession of Our Lady through the rosary. We are living again in a time of fear and uncertainty. Despair isn’t a solution, but prayer is. Pray all 15 decades of the rosary each day for your needs and for the holy souls in purgatory. 

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