The Battle of Lepanto was a naval engagement that took place on this date in 1571 when a fleet of the Holy League, of which the Venetian Empire and the Spanish Empire were the main powers, inflicted a major defeat on the fleet of the Ottoman Empire in the Gulf of Patras, where the Ottoman forces sailing westwards from their naval station in Lepanto met the fleet of the Holy League sailing east from Messina, Sicily. The Holy League was victorious this day, which was attributed to the praying of the Holy Rosary, as requested by Pope Saint Pius V. To commemorate the victory, Pius instituted this feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, and it was extended to the entire Church in 1716.
We all experience varying degrees of tragedy or worry or need or concern in our lives. It is important, I think, to have prayer as a tool to keep the faith in those circumstances. Pope Saint Pius V encouraged the Rosary as a powerful tool for a real time of concern. Praying the Rosary is effective in those times because it is simple. The constant repetition of words helps create an atmosphere in which to contemplate the mysteries of God. For me, the Rosary gives me the opportunity to see God at work in the mysteries of my own life, even as it draws me into the mysteries of salvation.
There are a lot of ways to pray. Many are as complex as they are beautiful. But it helps, I think, to have a simple prayer like the Rosary at your disposal for those times when prayer is urgent, and the words don’t come as readily as we would like.
Pope Saint John Paul II said, “To pray the Rosary is to hand over our burdens to the merciful hearts of Christ and His mother.” The powerful combination of Jesus and Mary in the praying of the Rosary was a force for the defeat of the Ottoman Empire at Lepanto. We should, then, have no pause in bringing the Rosary to bear in the battles of our own lives.