Our Lady of the Rosary

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Saint Of The Day

The apparition of Our Lady of the Rosary is by tradition attributed to Saint Dominic in 1208 in the church of Prouille, in France. According to the attribution, the Virgin Mary appeared to Saint Dominic and introduced him to the rosary. For centuries, Dominicans became instrumental in spreading the practice of praying the rosary.

Today's feast was introduced By St Pius V, who was also a Dominican, in gratitude for the victory of Christian fleets under Don John of Austria against the Turkish forces on this day in 1571.

The Turks had been advancing on Europe for nearly 80 years, after they invaded and occupied the Byzantine empire. In 1565 they attacked Malta and planned an invasion of Rome. Though they were repelled at Malta, the Turks captured Cyprus in 1570.

The next year, three Catholic powers on the continent - Genoa, Spain, and the Papal States - formed an alliance called the Holy League, to defend their Christian civilization against Turkish invasion. Its fleets sailed to confront the Turks near the west coast of Greece on October 7, 1571.

Crew members on more than 200 ships prayed the Rosary in preparation for the battle - as did Christians throughout Europe, encouraged by the Pope to gather in their churches to invoke the Virgin Mary against the daunting Turkish forces.

Some accounts say Pope Pius V was granted a miraculous vision of the Holy League's stunning victory. All but 13 of the nearly 300 Turkish ships were captured or sunk. The bells rang and prayers of thanksgiving were said across Europe.

Pope Leo XIII was particularly devoted to Our Lady of the Rosary, producing 11 encyclicals on the subject of this feast. In the first of them, 1883's 'Supremi Apostolatus Officio' he echoed the words of the oldest known Marian prayer (known in the Latin tradition as the 'Sub Tuum Praesidium'), when he wrote: "It has always been the habit of Catholics in danger and in troublous times to fly for refuge to Mary."

"Turkish victory at Lepanto would have been a catastrophe of the first magnitude for Christendom," wrote historian John F Guilmartin, Jr "and Europe would have followed a historical trajectory strikingly different from that which obtained."

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