Battle of Lepanto (fresco) by Giorgio Vasari (1570's)


On Sunday, October 7, 1571 the combined Christian fleets under Don John of Austria achieved a significant naval victory over the Turks in the Straits of Lepanto. Thousands of Christians were liberated, the Turkish fleet was destroyed, suffering their first great defeat at sea. In gratitude to God and Our Lady, Pope Saint Pius V ordered an annual commemoration of Our Lady of Victory (interestingly, the name of my Catholic school K-6th). In 1969, Pope Paul VI changed the name of the feast to “Our Lady of the Rosary”.

The month of October is dedicated to the Rosary. In 2008, Pope Benedict XVI gave a meditation on the meaning of the Rosary and why it is so important to pray this lovely prayer. I quote a particularly interesting part here:

The Rosary is a school of contemplation and silence. At first glance, it could seem a prayer that accumulates words, therefore difficult to reconcile with the silence that is rightly recommended for meditation and contemplation. In fact, this cadent repetition of the Hail Mary does not disturb inner silence but indeed both demands and nourishes it. Similarly to what happens for the Psalms when one prays the Liturgy of the Hours, the silence surfaces through the words and sentences, not as emptiness, but rather as the presence of an ultimate meaning that transcends the words themselves and through them speaks to the heart. Thus, in reciting the Hail Mary, we must be careful that our voices do not “cover” the voice of God who always speaks through the silence like the “still small voice” of a gentle breeze (1 Kgs 19: 12). Then how important it is to foster this silence full of God, both in one’s personal recitation and in its recitation with the community! Even when the Rosary is prayed, as today, by great assemblies, and as you do in this Shrine every day, it must be perceived as a contemplative prayer. And this cannot happen without an atmosphere of inner silence.

We’ll be reading the Battle of Lepanto by GK Chesterton today … I’m sure the boys will be more than willing to act it out!

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