The epic Battle of Lepanto took place on this date four hundred forty-nine years ago.
Pope Saint Pius V, a member of the Order of Preachers whose founder, Saint Dominic de Guzman, was given the Holy Rosary by Our Lady herself in 1208, urged the whole Christian world to pray the Rosary that the heavily outnumbered fleet of ships under the command of Don Juan of Austria would defeat the fleet under the command of the Mohammedan Turks. Our Lady's Most Holy Rosary won the day in the Battle of Lepanto just as it had won the day against the Albigenses, that strange sect, whose members actually killed lots of Catholics and burned their homes and farms, that harkened back to the Manicheans and were forerunners of the heretical Jansenists, three hundred fifty years before. How dastardly it was of Giovanni Montini/Paul VI, ever the appeaser of the forces (Judeo-Masonic, Communist, Protestant, Mohammedan), to return in 1965 one of the Turkish flags, one that had been on display in the Basilica of Saint Mary Major in Rome, captured in the Battle of Lepanto to the successors of the infidels.
Our Lady's Holy Rosary was victorious this day four hundred forty-seven years ago. It was prayed throughout Europe, led by the Pope of the Rosary, Pope Saint Pius V. It was prayed on the ships of the Christian fleet both before and during the battle with the Turkish forces. One of the admirals of the Christian fleet, Gian Andrea Doria, the nephew of the famed Andrea Doria, carried a small image of Our Lady of Guadalupe with him during the Battle of Lepanto. Our Lady had conquered the barbaric Aztecs and Mayans in the Americas after she left the miraculous image of herself on the tilma of the Venerable Juan Diego. That image had become so revered in the space of less than forty-five years that King Philip II of Spain had given it to the Genoese admiral Gian Andrea Dora to be used in the battle against the Mohammedan infidels Our Lady was thus demonstrating how her Divine Son had assigned to her the task of crushing barbarians and infidels just as much as she had been assigned the task of crushing heresies when she gave the Rosary to Saint Dominic de Guzman.
King Philip II of Spain was vert devoted to the preservation of the Catholic Faith in Spain and elsewhere in Europe, and he relied very tenderly upon Our Lady's Most Holy Rosary as he, more than other other potentate in Christendom, was responsible for providing the naval ships and materiel that were used by the combined Christian forces to repel the Turks at the Battle of Lepanto. William Thomas Walsh provided a stirring account of King Philip II's endeavor to preserve Christendom from yet another attempt by Mohammedans to conquer a land with force that had been conquered by the power of Christ the King's Holy Cross at it was held high by the missionaries who spread throughout pagan and barbaric lands during the First Millennium to win by example what the Mohammedans sought to wrest by the sword:
'Who is she that cometh forth as the morning rising, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army set in array?"
The Turkish fleet, about that time, was setting out from Constantinople, with instructions to find and destroy the Christian navies and to complete the conquest of Cyprus. Before Ali Pasha left the Bosphorus with forty great galleys, four Christian prisoners were crucified, and others skinned alive, as sacrifices to Mohammed for victory. While an army of 70,000 began the siege of Dolcino, on the coast of Albania, the fleet proceeded to Chios (April eighth) where it was joined by forty more vessels under Mohammed-Bey, governor of Negroponte. A second armada was preparing to follow from Constantinople, and Aluch Ali was cruising from Algiers with twenty more. Before the end of April the Grand Turk had almost 300 heavy warships, with a huge army of crack Janizaries and Spahis on board, on the way to Cyprus, where, on May nineteenth, Mustapha resumed the siege of Famagosta, which had held out heroically for nearly a year under the Venetian general Bragadino.
Mustapha loosed all his fury upon this city for three months. The Italian women fought in the breaches with their men. The children carried dirt and ammunition. Hunger at last got the better of them, and, in August, Bragadino agreed to surrender, if the Turks would spare their lives. Mustapha agreed; but as soon as the Christians had laid down their arms, he had them tortured and butchered, women and children with the men. The valiant Bragadino was skinned alive. There were other atrocities too horrible to mention. Mustapha went sailing off to range the Mediterranean in quest of the Christian fleet, with the stuffed skin of Bragadino swinging from his yardarm,
It seems incredible that with such dangers hanging over their other eastern possessions, and even their own shores, the Venetians should have haggled over the details of the League treaty for fully two months after the Pope had signed it. Pius agreed with the Spanish envoys, who were more tractable, that the demands of Venice were unreasonable (the nuncio blamed politicians among the Senators, and merchants with interests in the Levant), but he begged the King of Spain to send Don Juan to Italy as soon as possible, so that the fleet might sail. Yet Philip, although he had been assembling troops and ships since the first of the year, and had ordered his galleys armed on a war basis when the chief points of dispute were settled on April twelfth, refused to let his brother leave Spain until the treaty was signed. Up to the last minute he expected the Venetians to forsake the League. 1 He decided also that his nephews, Rudolph and Ernest, who were about to return home, must travel with Don Juan as far as Genoa. As both the Princes were ill during April, and Ernest continued so until June, the sailing of the Generalissimo seemed uncertain indeed.
At last, however, the treaty was signed, on May twentieth. 2 The news reached Madrid on the Feast of Corpus Christi, and the nuncio hastened to San Lorenzo, to notify the King. Philip was attending a solemn procession in honor of the Blessed Sacrament. It was a day he had long anticipated, for the monastery portion of the Escorial was finished, and he was formally handing it over to the Jeronymite friars he had chosen as its custodians. He would not grant Castagna an audience until the next day; but he had the Cardinal of Siguenza tell him of his pleasure over the good news, and say that Don Juan would start at once. Philip was waiting for confirmation of the news from his own commissioners. This arrived on the morning of June sixth. 3 He then gave his orders. The Prince left Madrid at three o'clock the same afternoon, reaching Guadalajara, thirty-five miles away, the same night. He was at Barcelona on the fifteenth. Don Juan of Austria was riding to the sea at last.
The Archdukes lagged behind, for Ernest was ill again. It was June twenty-fifth before they arrived. The flagship had to be repaired, and there was further wait for Ernest. Meanwhile some irritating instructions came from Antonio Perez. There was a temperamental antipathy between the suave politician who now handled nearly all the King’s correspondence and possessed the confidence that Philip gave so generously when he did give it, and the impulsive, headstrong young soldier. Perez wrote that it was His Majesty's wish that he be addressed by every one as "Your Excellency" instead of "Your Highness," the term usually employed for members of the royal family. This reminder that he was still a bastard cut Don Juan to the soul. Even the royal ambassador at Rome wrote that in Italy people would naturally call him "Su Alteza," since "Su Excellencia" was used there by people of very low degree.
Philip refused to change his instructions. He foresaw, perhaps, that if Don Juan became famous, there would be a demand that he be considered heir to the throne. And it remained to be demonstrated whether Don Juan would develop the qualities which the rule of an Empire demanded. Moreover, since Queen Anna was already pregnant and seemed likely to accomplish the chief duty for which she had been brought to Spain, he had hopes again of a legitimate heir. Pope Pius and nearly all the other notable persons of Italy called the Prince "Your Highness" from the start, however, and could not be persuaded to change by any intimations from Madrid.
It was July twentieth when Don Juan weighed anchor at Barcelona, July twenty-sixth when he reached Genoa. The greatest enthusiasm greeted him At one function there were fifty-two noted beauties to receive him On all sides his charm and gallantry, his handsome face and fine figure, his manners and his dancing, made him a hero of society. At Genoa he parted with the Austrian princes, who passed on their way to Milan. Meeting his old friend Alexander of Parma, he proceeded with him to Naples.
The Pope was pleased with what he heard of his Generalissimo, and wanted him to come to Rome. King Philip refused to allow this. Pope Pius was compelled, therefore, to send the banner of the Crusade and the Admiral's truncheon, which he blessed, to Naples, where, on August second, an immense crowd gathered to hear Mass, and to see Don Juan seated in a throne on the steps of the high altar in Santa Chiara, a noble figure in steel armor, spangled with gold, his shoulders draped with the decoration of the Golden Fleece, even his hair golden in the soft multicolored light of the old church. After Mass Cardinal Granvelle, as viceroy of Naples and a Prince of the Church, presented to him the truncheon and the azure banner on which was emblazoned the figure of Christ crucified, with the arms of the Pope, King Philip, Venice, and Don Juan at His feet.
"Take, O illustrious Prince," said Granvelle, "the insignia of the true Word Made Flesh. Take the living symbol of the holy Faith whose defender you will be in this enterprise. He gives you glorious victory over the impious enemy, and by your hand shall his pride be laid in the dust." "Amen!" A mighty shout like that of Clermont burst from the people. "Amen!" 4
On August twenty-third, when Don Juan arrived at Messina, the harbor was a cluttered forest of masts, the ancient town swarming with men of all nations. By September first, when the whole fleet was assembled, there were 208 galleys in all, 90 of Spain and her dependencies, 106 of Venice and 12 of the Pope; besides nearly 100 brigantines, frigates and transports, mostly furnished by Spain; with some 50,000 sailors and galley slaves, and 31,000 soldiers: 19,000 of them paid by King Philip (including Germans and Italians), 8,000 Venetians, 2,000 Papal troops, and 2,000 volunteers, chiefly from Spain.
The Spanish galleys were by far the best built, best equipped and best handled, and would bear the brunt of any fighting. The Venetian ships showed up so badly in a review that Don Juan inspected some of them, and found, to his disgust, that they were not even sufficiently manned. Some had hardly any crews. Others lacked fighting men. He distributed among the worst of them about 4,000 of the famous Spanish and Italian infantry. Then he held a Council of War, attended by seventy officers. Some favored a merely defensive campaign, since the Turks evidently outnumbered them, and the risk would be great, especially as the time for autumn tempests was at hand. Others said that if the Turk galleys were more numerous, they were not as efficient; and "something always had to be left to luck." Don Juan himself apparently hesitated, thinking of the King’s instructions. 5
The Papal influence was all in favor of fighting, whatever the odds. The invincible spirit of the old saint in the Vatican was perhaps the decisive factor. When Bishop Odescalchi, his nuncio, came to bless the fleet and to give a large portion of the True Cross for distribution among the crews, each vessel having a grain of the Precious Wood, he also brought to Don Juan the solemn assurance of Pope Pius V that, if he offered battle, God would give him the victory. If they were defeated, the Pope promised "to go to war himself with his gray hairs, to put idle youth to shame." But with courage they could not fail. Had not several revelations, including two prophecies by Saint Isidore of Sevilla, described such a battle and victory as seemed imminent, won by a youth closely resembling Don Juan?
At the Holy Father's suggestion, Don Juan adopted a modus operandi seldom if ever taught in naval academies. No women were allowed aboard the ships. Blasphemy was to be punished with death. While waiting for a good wind and the return of his scouting squadron with news of where the Turks were, the Generalissimo fasted for three days. All his officers and crews did likewise. Contemporary accounts agree that not one of the 81,000 sailors and soldiers failed to confess and to receive Holy Communion. Even the galley slaves were unshackled from their long benches and led in droves ashore, to confess to the numerous priests who toiled day and night at the Jesuit College helping the chaplains of the galleys.
Saint Francis Borgia and his Society played an important part in the preparation for the voyage. Six Spanish-speaking Jesuits were chaplains of the Spanish fleet. Of the three chaplains on board the Real, two were Jesuits. While Borgia was on his way to Spain with the Pope's nephew to perpetuate the League and to try to settle all differences between the Holy See and Spain, his followers, with Dominicans, Franciscans, Capuchins and others, were going among rough men, some of them offscourings and sweepings of the vilest cities, some criminals condemned to the galleys for foul crimes, urging them to lift up their hearts and cast all sin out of God’s fleet and God's army.
When the last of the Venetians had arrived, the Armada began to put to sea, September fifteenth, in the order agreed upon. Doria led the vanguard with 54 galleys of the right wing, flying green banners. Don Juan followed next morning with the batalla or center, under azure banners, with the blue standard of Our Lady of Guadalupe over the Real. (The Pope’s Standard of the League was reserved for battle.) Marcantonio Colonna, on the flagship of the Pope, was on his right. Veniero, a cantankerous old Venetian sea-dog, at his left. The third squadron of the Venetian Barbarigo followed, with yellow banners: and the Marques of Santa Cruz (Don Alvaro de Bazan) brought up the rear with thirty Spanish galleys and some of Italy, all under white flags.
It was a sight to remember—the papal nuncio, a flaming figure in scarlet from head to foot, standing on the mole with hand uplifted to bless each ship as it passed, the crusaders kneeling on the decks, the knights and men-at-arms glittering with steel, the sailors in red suits and caps, the rowers with dark naked backs glistening with sweat, the brown sails bellying out to catch the first breeze; and on the lofty prow of the flagship, Don Juan in golden armor, like an avenging angel under the outflung blue banner of her who had trodden on the serpent's head. Thus they passed into the open Mediterranean and formed in ranks, two by two. The six great Venetian galeasses, each a bristling fort with 44 heavy guns, led the way into the sapphire-studded morning light. The galeasses kept a full mile ahead, to open the fray with a heavy bombardment. Two by two the whole Armada followed, almost in battle order, according to a plan carefully worked out by old paralyzed Don Garcia de Toledo. 6 The plan was somewhat modified, apparently, to leave spaces between the squadrons, so that Santa Cruz could intervene where his help might be needed. "In this disposition," says Cabrera, "Gianandrea Doria took the leading part, with certain contradictions from those who sought thereby to gain reputation in what they knew least about." 7
Was Don Juan the target of this innuendo of the usually well-informed chronicler? He was certainly the least experienced and most cocksure of the generals. He quarrelled with most of them. He had come to despise Requesens on the voyage from Barcelona to Genoa, when he found him always at his elbow, even at meal times; for Don Luis had had instructions from the King to keep the young hero constantly under supervision. 8 Cardinal Pacheco also had a watchful eye on him. Cardinal Espinosa, whom he heartily detested, had no high opinion of him, nor had Granvelle. Neither the King nor his ministers had much co nfi dence in the capacity of Don Juan for real leadership. The Morisco campaign had shown more courage in him than judgment, and Philip had no intention of leaving the fate of so costly a fleet and the lives of 81,000 men in the hands of an impetuous and inexperienced youth. He wrote his brother that he must attach particular weight to the opinion of Gianandrea Doria; and that he must not risk a battle without the unanimous consent of Doria, Requesens, and Santa Cruz. 9
The wisdom of these precautions was demonstrated on October first, when the fleet was becalmed off the coast of Albania. A quarrel had broken out on one of the Venetian ships, where Don Juan had placed Spanish soldiers. Captain Curcio Anticocio and three of his soldiers were involved, and old Veniero in a rage ordered them hanged on a lateen yard. When Don Juan saw the four bodies in ghastly relief against the sky he was almost beside himself with anger, and would probably have thrown himself upon the seventy-year old Venetian if Colonna, Doria and Requesens had not restrained and calmed him. The Spanish soldiers were all for giving battle immediately to the Venetians. Doubtless, with such a fiery leader as Don Juan, they would have ruined the expedition, if wiser and more moderate heads had not been ready, through the foresight of the King, to intervene. As itwas, Don Juan refused to let Veniero come anymore to his Council. 1
A brief stop at Corfu restored the morale of the fleet. The Turks had been there, and had left the usual mementoes: charred ruins of churches and houses, broken and defiled crucifixes, mangled bodies of priests, women and children, feasted on by dogs and vultures. The sight was enough to remind the Christians of the object of their quest. Informed by scouts that the Turkish fleet had withdrawn to the Gulf of Corinth, preparatory to making their return to Constantinople before the autumn storms began, they set off in pursuit. Ali Pasha was then at Preveza. According to some captured corsairs, Aluch Ali, the best of the Moslem navigators, had returned with his 73 galleys to Algiers. This news seemed to indicate that the odds in favor of the enemy would not be overwhelming.
Don Juan left Corfu on September twenty-eighth. While the Turkish fleet was skirting the southern shore of Aetolia, making for the Gulf of Corinth (or Lepanto) the Christian Armada, using oars because the wind was contrary, nosed through the waters of the Ionian Sea, with the Albanian shore off the port bows, past Nicopolis and that stretch of sea lying off Actium where the spirit of the East had fled from the spirit of the West in the jaded galleys of Antony and Cleopatra, and around the coast of Santa Maura to Cephalonia, with the narrow isle of Ithaca hugged under its lee shore, still fragrant with the memory of Penelope and the unconquerable fortitude of Odysseus.
It was October fifth when the fleet cast anchor among the Curzolares. That day a brigantine from Candia came by with news of the fall of Famagosta, and the horrible atrocities perpetuated by Mustapha upon the helpless Christians who had surrendered. A quiver of rage passed through the floating city of armed men. Nothing could have been better timed to make them fight like holy madmen.
The wind was east, the sky overcast, the sea gray with fog. All day Saturday and well into the night, the fleet remained inactive, not knowing that the wind which kept them there had brought the Turkish fleet across the Gulf of Patras to the Albanian shore, and that Aluch Ali, with all his Algerian galleys, was still with them With the falling of the starless night a dead silence settled over the sea.
About two o'clock in the morning of Sunday, the seventh, there came up a fresh steady wind from the west, across the Ionian Sea, sweeping the stars and the wide bay clear of the wraiths of fog. Don Juan, lying sleepless in the cabin of his Real, saw that he was in the middle of what seemed a huge lake, flooded with moonlight. He gave the word, the great anchors were weighed and the sails unfurled, the whips cracked over the straining backs of the galley slaves, the great ships hove through the choppy water, as if racing the dawn to the Albanian coast. When the sun came flaming up over the Gulf of Lepanto, Doria's lookout, in the vanguard, sighted a squadron of the enemy about twelve miles away, returning from a scouting trip to Santa Maura. The signal flag agreed upon was on the masthead of the royal frigate, where Doria was on watch.
"We must conquer or die here," said Don Juan, exultantly, and ordered a green banner displayed as a sign for all to get in battle array. The multiple banks of oars on the six great Venetian galeasses plunged into the sea, driving the massive hulks to their positions, two of them a mile in front of each of the three sections of the battle-line.
The Venetian Barbarigo, with sixty-four galleys, veered as closely as possible to the Aetolian shore, to prevent an encircling movement by the enemy on the north. Don Juan commanded the center or batalla of sixty-three galleys, with Colonna and Veniero on either side of him, and Requesens in the ship behind him Doria's squadron of sixty took the right wing, nearest the open sea, the most dangerous post of all. Thirty-five vessels were held in reserve in the rear under the Marques of Santa Cruz, with orders to give help wherever it might be needed. Thus the great fleet advanced into the Gulf of Patras, in a long arc extending over a league-and-a-half of sea and gradually stiffening into a straighter line as the enemy came in sight.
The Turks, having a total of 286 galleys (for HascenBey had just arrived with 22 extra ones from Tripoli) against 208, had decided to fight, and were clearing their decks for action. Mohammed Siroco with 55 galleys opposed Barbarigo. Ali Pasha and Pertew with 96 faced the batalla of Don Juan. Aluch Ali with 73 took the side nearest the open sea, opposite Gianandrea Doria. There was also a squadron of reserve in the rear. The wind had shifted to the east, bringing on the Turks with bellied sails, while the Christians had to use their oars. Toward noon it almost died away. Four hours passed while both fleets made their preparations for combat.
Doria meanwhile came back in a swift frigate to consult with Don Juan and the others. According to one account he was averse, at the start, to giving battle to an enemy with so large a preponderance of heavy ships. He wanted a council of war, at least. But Don Juan cried, "It is time to fight now, not to talk"; and so it was agreed. Cabrera says Doria not only drew up the final battle-order of the fleet, but suggested that the Generalissimo have the espolones cut away from the bows of his galleys. These were sharp spurs, fourteen feet long, which could crash through the side of an enemy ship, doing great damage when propelled by the arms of a hundred galley-slaves. It was obvious that in fighting at close quarters, hand-to-hand, ship locked to ship, they would be useless. Without them, too, Don Juan could place his bow guns lower, and hit the Turkish hulks nearer the waterline. The plan was adopted. One after another down the long line the espolones splashed into the calm sea.
The young Admiral, now in his golden armor, went in a fast frigate from ship to ship, holding up an iron crucifix for all to see. "Hey, valorous soldiers!" he cried. "Here's the chance you wanted. I have done my part. Do you now humble the pride of the enemy and win glory in this holy fight. Live or die, be conquerors; if you die, you go to Heaven." 11 The sight of the gallant young figure and the sound of his fresh voice had an extraordinary effect. A mighty shout answered him from each ship. There passed across the sparkling sea a long broken cheer as the Pope's banner of the League, with the image of Christ Crucified catching the glint of the high sun, rose above the Real beside the blue flag of Our Lady of Guadalupe. On the forward mast of his flagship Don Juan had hung a crucifix which alone of all his effects survived the fire in his house at Alcala.
As the Turks advanced in a great half-moon he knelt on the prow and in a loud voice begged the blessing of God on the Christian arms, while priests and monks throughout the fleet held up crucifixes before the kneeling sailors and soldiers. The sun was now directly overhead. The clear water, almost unrippled, flashed back a tremulous replica in vivid colors of a thousand standards, streamers, pennons and gonfalons, the cold brilliant glitter of weapons and armor, the gold and silver of armaments, all wavering kaleidoscopically between the blue sea and the dazzling sky. A hush like that which comes just before the consecration of the Mass fell over the whole Armada. The Turkish side replied with the usual blood-curdling chorus of screams, hoots, jibes and groans, the clashing of cimeters on shields, the blaring of horns and trumpets. The Christians waited in silence.
At that moment the wind, which had thus far favored the Turks, shifted to the west, and sped the Christian galleys on to the shock. Ali Pasha, in the Moslem center, opened the battle with a cannon shot. Don Juan answered, with another. As the Turkish oarsmen churned the sea, the six great galeasses of Venice opened fire with their 264 guns. This bombardment was not as devastating as had been expected, but it had the effect of breaking the enemy's line. The Turkish right was racing now to gain the open water between the Venetians and the Aetolian shore. Five ships closed upon the galley of Barbarigo, while the Moorish archers let fly clouds of poisoned arrows, which they preferred to firearms and used with more deadly effect. Ship to ship they were lashed now, fighting hand-to-hand. Huge Barbarigo fought like a lion, until, taking his shield from his face to shout an order, he was pierced through the eye with an arrow.
It was the Christian right that stood the heaviest attack. Doria was held in fear and respect by the Moslems. Moreover, he occupied the most dangerous post, where strategy and good sailing counted. If there was a match for him among the mariners of the Mediterranean, it was Aluch Ali, the Italian apostate. As the Turkish left tried to gain the open sea, to attack by poop and prow, Doria extended his line farther to the right, leaving a space between his squadron and the batalla. Aluch Ali swiftly changed his course and came crashing through the open space with his best ships, while his slower sailing galleys took the Genoese on the side toward the open sea. Doria, heavily outnumbered, fought a magnificent engagement. On ten of his vessels, nearly all the soldiers were killed in the first hour of the conflict. The handful of survivors fought on, desperately holding their ships in the hope of succor.
Santa Cruz reserve, however, had gone to the aid of some of the Venetians on the left, and the whole batalla was locked in a mortal conflict with the Turkish center. As soon as Ali Pasha saw where the holy flags flew over the galley of Don Juan, he drove straight for it. The two enormous hulks crashed prow to prow. Ali's ship was higher and heavier, and manned with 500 picked Janizaries.
The wisdom of Doria's advice to cut away the espolones was now apparent; while the Turk's artillery fired through the rigging of the Real, Don Juan's poured death into the ranks of the Janizaries as the ships grappled. Hand-to-hand they fought from one deck to the other, for two hours. Seven Turkish ships stood by to help the Sultana. As fast as the Janizaries fell on the decks, they were replaced by others from the hulks of reserve. Twice the horde of yelling Turks penetrated the Real to the mainmast, and twice the Spaniards thrust them back. But Don Juan, with heavy losses, had only two ships of reserves. Fighting gallantly in a little ring of chosen Spanish cavaliers, he was wounded in the foot. His situation was extremely perilous, in fact, when Santa Cruz, having saved the Venetians, came to his aid and rushed 200 reserves aboard.
Heartened by this fresh blood, the Spanish threw themselves on Ali and his Janizaries so furiously that they hurled them back into their own ship. Three times the Christians charged, and three times the Turks cast them out over decks now red and slippery with blood, piled with heaps of dead men, ghastly mangled trunks, severed arms and legs still quivering. The two fleets were locked in the embrace of death, ships lashed by twos and threes in water already streaked with crimson from floating bodies and limbs. The din of musketry, screams of rage and pain, clash of steel on steel, thunder of artillery, falling of spars and lashing of bloody waters between rocking timbers resounded horribly all through the Sunday afternoon. Splendid and terrible deeds were done. Old Veniero, seventy years old, fought sword in hand at the head of his men. Cervantes arose from his bed of fever to fight and to lose his left hand. Young Alexander of Parma boarded a Turkish galley alone, and survived the experience.
The moment was critical, and the issue still in doubt, when the magnificent Ali Pasha, defending his ship from the last Christian onslaught, was laid low by a ball from a Spanish arquebus. His body was dragged to the feet of Don Juan. A Spanish soldier triumphantly pounced upon it and shore away the head. One version says that Don Juan reproved him for this brutality. Another, more likely, says that the Prince impaled the head on the end of a long pike and held it up for all to see. Hoarse shouts of victory burst from the Christians on the Real, as they brushed the disheartened Turks into the sea and hoisted the banner of Christ Crucified to the enemy masthead. There was not a single hole in this flag, though the spars and masts were riddled, and the mainmast bristled with arrows like a porcupine. From ship to ship the shout of triumph was taken up, with the word that Ali was dead and the Christians had won. A panic seized the enemy, and he took to flight.
As the sun sank over Cephalonia, Doria's right wing was still furiously engaged with the Algerians. Gianandrea was red from head to foot with blood, but escaped without a scratch. When Aluch Ali saw that the Moslem fleet was getting the worse of it, he skilfully withdrew between the right and the center of the Christians. In the rear of Doria's fleet he came upon a galley of the Knights of Malta, whom he especially hated. He pounced upon it from the stern, slew all the knights and the crew, and took possession of the vessel; but when Santa Cruz attacked him, he abandoned his prize, and fled with 40 of his best ships toward the open sea and the crimson sunset. Doria's fleet pursued him until night and the coming of a storm forced him to desist.
The Christians took refuge in the port of Petala, and there counted their casualties, which were comparatively light, and their booty, which was exceedingly rich. They had lost 8,000 slain, including 2,000 Spanish, 800 of the Pope's men, and 5,200 Venetians. The Turks had lost 224 vessels, 130 captured and more than 90 sunk or burned; at least 25,000 of their men had been slain, and 5,000 captured; 10,000 of their Christian captives were set free. 12 Don Juan at once sent ten galleys to Spain to inform the King, and dispatched the Count of Priego to Rome. But Pius V had speedier means of communication than galleys. On the afternoon of Sunday, October seventh, he was walking in the Vatican with his treasurer, Donato Cesis. The evening before he had sent out orders to all convents in Rome and nearby to double their prayers for the victory of the Christian fleet, but now he was listening to a recital of some of his financial difficulties. Suddenly he stepped aside, opened a window, and stood watching the sky as if astonished. Then, turning with a radiant face to the treasurer, he said, "Go with God. This is not the time for business, but to give thanks to Jesus Christ, for our fleet has just conquered."
He then hurried to his chapel to prostrate himself in thanksgiving. Afterwards he went out, and everybody noticed his youthful step and joyous countenance. The first news of the battle, through human agencies, reached Rome by way of Venice on the night of October twenty-first, just two weeks after the event. Saint Pius went to St. Peter's in a procession, singing the Te Deum Laudamus. There was great joy in Rome. The Holy Father commemorated the victory by designating October seventh as the Feast of the Holy Rosary, and by adding "Help of Christians" to the titles of Our Lady in the Litany of Loreto.
It took ten more days for the news to reach Madrid. King Philip was not "in his closet with the fleece about his neck," nor did he hold a crystal phial of poison with "colors like the moon" anywhere except in Chesterton's poem He was in the chapel at the Escorial, listening to the monks sing Vespers, on Hallowe'en, when he heard outside an unwonted commotion, as of some one entering in great haste. Presently there came waddling in, very much out of breath, a fat gentleman of the royal household named Don Pedro Manuel. Leaning over the railing, with little ceremony, he told the King excitedly that Angulo the courier had just arrived with news of a great victory won by Senor Don Juan.
Philip's face did not change its grave and serene expression, nor did he raise his voice, as he said, characteristically, "Sosegaos. Calm yourself. Come around into the choir, so you can tell it better."
On hearing what had occurred, he went quietly back to his seat and prayed until Vespers were over. Then he betook himself to his own gallery to prostrate himself, giving thanks to Almighty God. Finally he announced the news. While the monks joyfully formed a procession, he allowed himself to receive the congratulations of courtiers and ambassadors. He ordered Mass said next morning for the souls of those who died at Lepanto.
He then went back to Madrid, to take part in the general procession next day, on the Feast of All Saints. With all the court, ambassadors and prelates and priests in gorgeous vestments of silk and gold, he walked from the church of Saint Philip to the church of Santa Maria, where Solemn High Mass was sung amid a blaze of lights and with exquisite music, by Cardinal Alexandrino, who had arrived only a few days before with Saint Francis Borgia. All sang the psalm, Domine in virtute tua laetabitur rex. Some verses and responses composed by Cardinal Alexandrino were sung so exquisitely, and the words were so appropriate, that every one, including the King, wept with joy.
The King was so affected that he ordered the psalm and the versicles of the Cardinal written out for him. In the quiet of his study he read them over. The twentieth Psalm must have seemed especially appropriate:
"In thy strength, O Lord, the king shall joy: and in thy salvation he shall rejoice, exceedingly. Thou hast given him his heart's desire; and hast not withholden from him the will of his lips. For thou hast prevented him with blessings of sweetness: thou hast set upon his head a crown of precious stones. He asked life of thee: and thou hast given him length of days for ever and ever. His glory is great in thy salvation: glory and great beauty shalt thou lay upon him. For thou shalt give him to be a blessing for ever and ever; thou shalt make him joyful in gladness with thy countenance. For the king hopeth in the Lord: and through the mercy of the Most High he shall not be moved.
"Let thy hand be found by all thy enemies: Let thy right hand find out all them that hate thee; thou shalt make them as an oven of fire, in the time of thine anger: the Lord shall trouble them in his wrath, and fire shall devour them. Their fruit shalt thou destroy from the earth: and their seed from among the children of men. For they have intended evils against thee: they have devised counsel which they have not been able to establish." (William Thomas Walsh, Teresa of Avila, published originally in 1943 by the Bruce Publishing Company, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and republished by TAN Books and Publishers, Inc., Rocford, Illinois, 1987, pp. 513-525.)
The Battle of Lepanto was a victory for Our Lady's Most Holy Rosary, for Pope Saint Pius V's indomitable fortiude, and for King Philip II's calmness and resolve in the midst of the one of the greatest dangers that Christendom had faced from the Mohammedans, who have, not so incidentally, won by immigration and the obsequiousness of the conciliar revolutionaries towards them what they lost at the Battle of Lepanto: effective control of large parts of Europe.
Dom Prosper Gueranger, O.S.B., explained that the Mohammedans were intent on taking advantages of the divisions brought about by Father Martin Luther's revolution against the Divine Plan that God instituted to effect man's return to Him through the Catholic Church:
Soliman II, the greatest of the Sultans, taking advantage of the confusion caused in the West by Luther, had filled the sixteenth century with terror by his exploits. He left to his son, Selim II the prospect of being able at length to carry out the ambition of his race: to subjugate Rome and Vienna, the Pope and the Emperor, to the power of the Crescent. The Turkish fleet had already mastered the greater part of the Mediterranean, and was threatening Italy when, on the 7th of October, 1571, it came into action, in the Gulf of Lepanto, with the pontifical galleys supported by the fleets of Spain and Venice. It was Sunday; throughout the world the confraternities of the Rosary were engaged in their work of intercession. Supernaturally enlightened, St. Pius V watched from the Vatican the battle undertaken by the leader he had chosen, Don John of Austria, against the three hundred vessels of Islam. The illustrious Pontiff, whose life’s work was now completed, did not survive to celebrate the anniversary of the triumph; but he perpetuated the memory of it by an annual commemoration of our Lady of Victory. His successor, Gregory XIII, altered this title to our Lady of the Rosary, and appointed the first Sunday of October for the new Feast, authorizing its celebration in those churches which possessed an altar under that invocation.
A century and a half later, this limited concession was made general. As Innocent XI in memory of the deliverance of Vienna by Sobieski, had extended the Feast of the most holy Name of Mary to the whole Church; so, in 1716, Clement XI inscribed the Feast of the Rosary on the universal Calendar, in gratitude for the victory gained by Prince Eugene at Peterwardein, on the 5th of August, under the auspices of Our Lady of the Snow. This victory was followed by the raising of the siege of Corfu, and completed a year later by the taking of Belgrade. (Dom Prosper Gueranger, O.S.B., The Liturgical Year.)
Yes, it was but less than one hundred twelve years after the Battle of Lepanto that Polish King Jan Sobieski used Our Lady's Most Holy Rosary to defeat the Turks at the Battle of the Gates of Vienna. That same Rosary would be used by Austrians in the 1950s to pray for the withdrawal of the forces of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics that occupied half of their country, marking only the second time that Soviet forces had withdrawn voluntarily from a country before the events of 1989-1991 (the other time was in late-1946 when Soviet forces withdrew from the Azerbaijan region of northern Iran). Our Lady's Most Holy Rosary continues to vanquish the demons that plague the gates of our very souls, which is why we must be assiduous in a fervent and recollected recitation of at least one set of its mysteries each and every day of our lives without fail.
Our Lady hates what her Divine Son hates. She hate all evil. Although she, as the Mother of Mercy (Mater Misericordia), has compassion on us erring sinners, she hates sin. She wants us to detest all sin and evil, having experienced in the very depths of her Immaculate Heart and soul the horror of what each one of our sins did to her Divine Son, Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, in His Sacred Humanity during His Passion and Death. She was sent to three shepherd children in the Cova da Iria near Fatima, Portugal, nearly ninety years ago as a final effort on the part of her Divine Son to save erring sinners from Hell, explaining to Lucia dos Santos on July 13, 1917, that she desired to have instituted in a most particular way devotion to her Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart by the practice of the Five First Saturdays. Our Lord, Who gave us His Most Blessed Mother to be our Mother as He was dying as a result of our sins on the wood of the Holy Cross, has sent His Blessed Mother to us in these our own very days to rescue us from sins and lukewarmness and indifference and all of the errors of Modernity in the world, represented by the anti-Incarnational errors of Russia, and of Modernism (which is why the conciliarists have been demonically feverish in helping to deconstruct the Third Secret of Fatima).
The readings in Matins for today's Divine Office teach us about the origins and the power of Our Lady's Most Holy Rosary:
When the heresy of the Albigenses was making head against God in the County of Toulouse, and striking deeper roots every day, the holy Dominic, who had but just laid the foundations of the Order of Friars Preachers, threw his whole strength into the travail of plucking these blasphemies up. That he might be fitter for the work, he cried for help with his whole soul to that Blessed Maiden, whose glory the falsehoods of the heretics so insolently assailed, and to whom it hath been granted to trample down every heresy throughout the whole earth. It is said that he had from her a word, bidding him preach up the saying of the Rosary among the people, as a strong help against heresy and sin, and it is wonderful with how stout an heart and how good a success he did the work laid upon him. This Rose-garden (or Rosary) is a certain form of prayer, wherein we say one-hundred-and-fifty times the salutation of the Angel, and the Lord's Prayer between every ten times, and, each of the fifteen times that we say the Lord's Prayer, and repeat tenfold the salutation, think of one of fifteen great events in the history of our Redemption. From that time forth this form of godly prayer was extraordinarily spread about by holy Dominic, and waxed common. That this same Dominic was the founder and prime mover thereof hath been said by Popes in divers letters of the Apostolic See.
From this healthy exercise have grown up numberless good fruits in the Christian Commonwealth. Among these deserveth well to be named that great victory over the Sultan of Turkey, which the most holy Pope Pius V, and the Christian Princes whom he had roused, won at Lepanto, (on the 7th day of October, the first Lord's Day in the month, in the year of our Lord 1571) The day whereon this victory was gained was the very one whereon the Guildbrethren of the most holy Rosary, throughout the whole world, were used to offer their accustomed prayers and appointed supplications, and the event therefore was not unnaturally connected therewith. This being the avowed opinion of Gregory XIII, he ordered that in all Churches where there was, or should be, an Altar of the Rosary, a Feast, in the form of a Greater Double, should be kept for ever upon the first Lord's Day of the month of October, to give unceasing thanks to the Blessed Virgin, under her style of (Queen of) the (Most Holy) Rosary, for that extraordinary mercy of God. Other Popes also have granted almost numberless Indulgences to those who say the Rosary, and to those who join its Guilds.
n the year 1716, Charles VI, Elect-Emperor of the Romans, won a famous victory over countless hordes of Turks, near Timisoara, in the kingdom of Hungary, upon the day when the Feast of the Dedication of the Church of St Mary of the Snows was being kept, and almost at the very moment when the Guild-brethren of the most holy Rosary were moving through the streets of Rome in public and solemn procession, amid vast multitudes, all filled with the deepest enthusiasm, calling vehemently upon God for the defeat of the Turks, and entreating the Virgin Mother of God to bring the might of her succour to the help of the Christians. A few days later, (upon the Octave of the Feast of the Assumption,) the Turks raised the siege of Corfu. These mercies Clement XI devoutly ascribed to the helpful prayers of the Blessed Virgin, and that the memory and the sweetness of such a blessing might for all time coming endure gloriously, he extended to the whole Church the observance of the Feast of the most holy Rosary, for the same day and of the same rank, (as it had already been in the places before mentioned.) Benedict XIII commanded the record of all these things to be given a place in the Service-book of the Church of Rome; and Leo XIII, in the most troublous times of the Church and the cruel storm of long pressing evils, by fresh Apostolic letters vehemently urged upon all the faithful throughout the earth the often saying of the Rosary of (the Blessed Virgin) Mary, raised the dignity of the yearly festival, added to the Litany of Loretto the Invocation Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, and granted to the whole Church a special Office for this solemn occasion. Let us all then be earnest in honouring the most holy Mother of God in this form which she liketh so well, that even as the entreaties of Christ's faithful people, approaching her in her Garden of Roses, have so often won her to scatter and destroy their earthly foes, so she may gain for them the victory over their hellish foes likewise. (Matins, Divine Office, Feast of the Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary.)
We must be earnest in our efforts to use Our Lady's Most Holy Rosary and devotion to her Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart, and through that Heart, which we pierced by our sins with Seven Swords of Sorrow, to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus to make reparation for our own sins and those of the whole world.
We must make sacrifices to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary for the conversion of sinners.
We must be truly sorry for our own sins and to grow to despise them so much that we lose all attachment even to our least venial sins, which is, after all, one of the conditions for gaining a Plenary Indulgence (and those who are totally consecrated to Jesus through Mary, either according to the formula of Saint Louis de Montfort or Father Maximilian Kolbe, recognize that whatever merits they gain, including Plenary Indulgences, as a result of their prayers and actions are not theirs, that they belong totally to Our Lady to be disposed of as she sees fit to make use of them). We must also understand that even the slightest attachment to heresy and error is displeasing to God and makes our souls less capable of seeing the world clearly through the eyes of the true Faith and of choosing the good in accordance with that same Holy Faith.
Our Lady hates heresy and error because her Divine Son is Truth Incarnate. There is no contradiction in truth, whether natural or supernatural. There is no contradiction in the Blessed Trinity. Our Lord became Flesh in Our Lady's Virginal and Immaculate Womb by the power of the Holy Ghost to bear witness to the Truth, something that confounded Pontius Pilate on Good Friday and that has been deconstructed by heretics throughout the ages, including the conciliarists, who are wedded to the condemned Modernist propositions that truth is only perceived in the mind and is thus subject to reinterpretation in light of changing circumstances and the alleged "needs" of "modern" man. Pope Saint Pius X condemned the madness of this attack upon truth, which is indeed an attack upon Truth Incarnate Himself, in Pascendi Dominci Gregis, September 8, 1907:
Hence [for the Modernists] it is quite impossible to maintain that they [dogmatic statements] absolutely contain the truth: for, in so far as they are symbols, they are the images of truth, and so must be adapted to the religious sense in its relation to man; and as instruments, they are the vehicles of truth, and must therefore in their turn be adapted to man in his relation to the religious sense. But the object of the religious sense, as something contained in the absolute, possesses an infinite variety of aspects, of which now one, now another, may present itself. In like manner he who believes can avail himself of varying conditions. Consequently, the formulas which we call dogma must be subject to these vicissitudes, and are, therefore, liable to change. Thus the way is open to the intrinsic evolution of dogma. Here we have an immense structure of sophisms which ruin and wreck all religion.
Dogma is not only able, but ought to evolve and to be changed. This is strongly affirmed by the Modernists, and clearly flows from their principles. For among the chief points of their teaching is the following, which they deduce from the principle of vital immanence, namely, that religious formulas if they are to be really religious and not merely intellectual speculations, ought to be living and to live the life of the religious sense. This is not to be understood to mean that these formulas, especially if merely imaginative, were to be invented for the religious sense. Their origin matters nothing, any more than their number or quality. What is necessary is that the religious sense -- with some modification when needful -- should vitally assimilate them. In other words, it is necessary that the primitive formula be accepted and sanctioned by the heart; and similarly the subsequent work from which are brought forth the .secondary formulas must proceed under the guidance of the heart. Hence it comes that these formulas, in order to be living, should be, and should remain, adapted to the faith and to him who believes. Wherefore, if for any reason this adaptation should cease to exist, they lose their first meaning and accordingly need to be changed. In view of the fact that the character and lot of dogmatic formulas are so unstable, it is no wonder that Modernists should regard them so lightly and in such open disrespect, and have no consideration or praise for anything but the religious sense and for the religious life. In this way, with consummate audacity, they criticize the Church, as having strayed from the true path by failing to distinguish between the religious and moral sense of formulas and their surface meaning, and by clinging vainly and tenaciously to meaningless formulas, while religion itself is allowed to go to ruin. "Blind'- they are, and "leaders of the blind" puffed up with the proud name of science, they have reached that pitch of folly at which they pervert the eternal concept of truth and the true meaning of religion; in introducing a new system in which "they are seen to be under the sway of a blind and unchecked passion for novelty, thinking not at all of finding some solid foundation of truth, but despising the holy and apostolic traditions, they embrace other and vain, futile, uncertain doctrines, unapproved by the Church, on which, in the height of their vanity, they think they can base and maintain truth itself." (Pope Saint Pius X, Pascendi Dominci Gregis, September 8, 1907.)
Once again, compare this condemnation of the proposition of the ability of truth to contradict itself with its very assertion by the now-retired Joseph Alois Ratzinger/Benedict XVI in his address to the curia of the conciliar Vatican on December 22, 2005:
It is clear that this commitment to expressing a specific truth in a new way demands new thinking on this truth and a new and vital relationship with it; it is also clear that new words can only develop if they come from an informed understanding of the truth expressed, and on the other hand, that a reflection on faith also requires that this faith be lived. In this regard, the programme that Pope John XXIII proposed was extremely demanding, indeed, just as the synthesis of fidelity and dynamic is demanding. . . .
It is precisely in this combination of continuity and discontinuity at different levels that the very nature of true reform consists. In this process of innovation in continuity we must learn to understand more practically than before that the Church's decisions on contingent matters - for example, certain practical forms of liberalism or a free interpretation of the Bible - should necessarily be contingent themselves, precisely because they refer to a specific reality that is changeable in itself. It was necessary to learn to recognize that in these decisions it is only the principles that express the permanent aspect, since they remain as an undercurrent, motivating decisions from within:
On the other hand, not so permanent are the practical forms that depend on the historical situation and are therefore subject to change. (Christmas greetings to the Members of the Roman Curia and Prelature, December 22, 2005.)
Jorge Mario Bergoglio, of course, has his own "hermeneutic," so to speak, that simply dispenses with anything he does not like about the "no church" of the "past," which is pretty much just about everything, some that he has made clear in his daily unscripted screeds at the Casa Santa Marta.
Anyone who thinks that such condemned absurdities as spoken throughout Joseph Alois Ratzinger's priesthood, including the nearly eight years of his reign over the counterfeit church of conciliarism, are looked upon favorably by the Mother of God is fooling himself.
Our Lady hates all heresy.
The belief that truth is contingent upon perception and the circumstances of the moment, a belief that is the cornerstone of Modernism and hence of conciliarism's view of doctrine and the liturgy, is heretical, condemned by pope after pope of the Catholic Church and anathematized in no uncertain terms by the [First] Vatican Council, 1869-1870 (see the appendix below for yet another recitation of the decree issued by the Vatican Council on April 24, 1870).
We must, therefore, beseech Our Lady through her Most Holy Rosary to protect us from the ways in which the adversary seeks to attack the gates of our very souls by tempting us into believing that the errors of Modernity in the world or of Modernism in the counterfeit church of conciliarism will just "go away" all on their own. We must protect ourselves from these pernicious errors by relying upon the graces that have been won for us by the shedding of Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ's Most Precious Blood on the wood of the Holy Cross and that flow into our hearts and souls through the loving hands of Our Lady, the Mediatrix of All Graces and by using the Most Holy Rosary as the most powerful weapon after the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass itself to defeat the propagators of these pernicious errors. Our Lady's Most Holy Rosary is as powerful now as it was when she gave it to Saint Dominic to fight the Albigenses. We must use against those, including Jorge Mario Bergoglio/Francis, who dare to defy anathematized propositions as they promote condemned novelties and beliefs that offend God and harm the souls for whom He gave up His very life on the wood of the Holy Cross.
In using Our Lady's Rosary to defeat the errors of Modernity and Modernism that seek to knock down and invade with violence the very gates of our souls we must keep in mind the virtues of the saints who have employed it through the better part of the past eight centuries. The great client of Our Lady and her Most Holy Rosary, Saint Louis de Montfort, provided us with a summary of these virtues in his writings:
Among the virtues of the saints, we must imitate: the splendor of their humility, the charm of their tenderness, the excellence of their obedience, their strength of patience, the beauty of their virginity, the necessity of their penance, the tenderness of their brotherly charity, their joy of pardon, their blessed solitude, the frequency of their prayer, their power of fasting, the generosity of their alms, their love for the Cross, the treasures of their poverty, the flame of their zeal, the wisdom of their silence, their experience of the presence of God, the pleasant appeal of their modesty, their thankfulness (H 26:8), their abandonment to Providence, and even their innocent games. (Jesus Living in Mary: Handbook of the Spirituality of St. Louis de Montfort, Litchfield, Connecticut, Montfort Publications, 1994).
As the Queen of All Saints, Our Lady exhibited these virtues to their consummate perfection. We need her maternal intercession from Heaven to help us to do so in order that our efforts to oppose the errors of our day and our method of dealing with others on a one-on-one basis will not be founded on our own disordered pride but in a true love of the majesty and the rights of God Himself and in a desire to help souls quit offending Him and His Most Blessed Mother, begging pardon of her Divine Son and of her for the times when our efforts have been disordered and caused more scandal than have been a true help to plant seeds for the eternal good of souls and for the honor and glory of God Himself.
One of the ways we can be most effective, both spiritually and temporally, in combating by means of the Most Holy Rosary the demons that knock on the very gates of our souls from so many different directions is to join forces with others who are relying upon what the late Padre Pio called our most powerful weapon. To this end, you see, it is important to take seriously our enrollment in (or to enroll for the first time in) the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary, which was established by Saint Dominic himself. Pope Leo XIII himself reaffirmed the papal approbation that had been given to this Confraternity by previous pontiffs. Pope Leo's words, contained in Augustissimae Virginis Mariae, September 12, 1897, should encourage each of us to join the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary and to exhort others to do so as well:
We do not hesitate to assign a pre-eminent place among these societies to that known as the Society of the Holy Rosary. If we regard its origin, we find it distinguished by its antiquity, for St. Dominic himself is said to have been its founder. If we estimate its privileges, we see it enriched with a vast number of them granted by the munificence of our predecessors. The form of the association, its very soul, is the Rosary of Our Lady, of the excellence of which We have elsewhere spoken at length. Still the virtue and efficacy of the Rosary appear all the greater when considered as the special office of the Sodality which bears its name. Everyone knows how necessary prayer is for all men; not that God's decrees can be changed, but, as St. Gregory says, "that men by asking may merit to receive what Almighty God hath decreed from eternity to grant them" (Dialog., lib. i., c. 8). And St. Augustine says, "He who knoweth how to pray aright, knoweth how to live aright" (In Ps. cxviii). But prayers acquire their greatest efficacy in obtaining God's assistance when offered publicly, by large numbers, constantly, and unanimously, so as to form as it were a single chorus of supplication; as those words of the Acts of the Apostles clearly declare wherein the disciples of Christ, awaiting the coming of the Holy Ghost, are said to have been "persevering with one mind in prayer" (Acts i., 14). Those who practice this manner of prayer will never fail to obtain certain fruit. Such is certainly the case with members of the Rosary Sodality. Just as by the recitation of the Divine Office, priests offer a public, constant, and most efficacious supplication; so the supplication offered by the members of this Sodality in the recitation of the Rosary, or "Psalter of Our Lady," as it has been styled by some of the Popes, is also in a way public, constant, and universal.
Since, as We have said, public prayers are much more excellent and more efficacious than private ones, so ecclesiastical writers have given to the Rosary Sodality the title of "the army of prayer, enrolled by St. Dominic, under the banner of the Mother of God," - of her, whom sacred literature and the history of the Church salute as the conqueror of the Evil One and of all errors. The Rosary unites together all who join the Sodality in a common bond of paternal or military comradeship; so that a mighty host is thereby formed, duly marshalled and arrayed, to repel the assaults of the enemy, both from within and without. Wherefore may the members of this pious society take to themselves the words of St. Cyprian: "Our prayer is public and in common; and when we pray, we pray not for one, but for the whole people, for we, the entire people, are one" (De Orat. Domin.). The history of the Church bears testimony to the power and efficacy of this form of prayer, recording as it does the rout of the Turkish forces at the naval battle of Lepanto, and the victories gained over the same in the last century at Temesvar in Hungary and in the island of Corfu. Our predecessor, Gregory XIII., in order to perpetuate the memory of the first-named victory, established the feast of Our Lady of Victories, which later on Clement XI. distinguished by the title of Rosary Sunday and commanded to be celebrated throughout the universal Church.
From the fact that this warfare of prayer is "enrolled under the name of the Mother of God," fresh efficacy and fresh honour are thereby added to it. Hence the frequent repetition in the Rosary of the "Hail Mary" after each "Our Father." So far from this derogating in any way from the honour due to God, as though it indicated that we placed greater confidence in Mary's patronage than in God's power, it is rather this which especially moves God, and wins His mercy for us. We are taught by the Catholic faith that we may pray not only to God himself, but also to the Blessed in heaven (Conc. Trid. Sess. xxv.), though in different manner; because we ask from God as from the Source of all good, but from the Saints as from intercessors. "Prayer," says St. Thomas, "is offered to a person in two ways - one as though to be granted by himself; another, as to be obtained through him. In the first way we pray to God alone, because all our prayers ought to be directed to obtaining grace and glory, which God alone gives, according to those words of Psalm Ixxxiii., 12, "The Lord will give grace and glory." But in the second way we pray to holy angels and men, not that God may learn our petition through them, but that by their prayers and merits our prayers may be efficacious. Wherefore, it is said in the Apocalypse (viii., 4): "The smoke of the incense of the prayers of the Saints ascended up before God from the hand of the angel" (Summa Theol. 2a 2ae, q. Ixxxiii. a. iv.). Now, of all the blessed in heaven, who can compare with the august Mother of God in obtaining grace? Who seeth more clearly in the Eternal Word what troubles oppress us, what are our needs? Who is allowed more power in moving God? Who can compare with her in maternal affection? We do not pray to the Blessed in the same way as to God; for we ask the Holy Trinity to have mercy on us, but we ask all the Saints to pray for us (Ibid.). Yet our manner of praying to the Blessed Virgin has something in common with our worship of God, so that the Church even addresses to her the words with which we pray to God: "Have mercy on sinners." The members of the Rosary Sodality, therefore, do exceedingly well in weaving together, as in a crown, so many salutations and prayers to Mary. For, so great is her dignity, so great her favour before God, that whosoever in his need will not have recourse to her is trying to fly without wings.
We must not omit to mention another excellence of this Sodality. As often as, in reciting the Rosary, we meditate upon the mysteries of our Redemption, so often do we in a manner emulate the sacred duties once committed to the Angelic hosts. The Angels revealed each of these mysteries in its due time; they played a great part in them; they were constantly present at them, with countenances indicative now of joy, now of sorrow, now of triumphant exultation. Gabriel was sent to announce the Incarnation of the Eternal Word to the Virgin. In the cave of Bethlehem, Angels sang the glory of the new-born Saviour. The Angel gave Joseph command to fly with the Child into Egypt. An Angel consoled, with his loving words, Jesus in His bloody sweat in the garden. Angels announced His resurrection, after He had triumphed over death, to the women. Angels carried Him up into Heaven; and foretold His second coming, surrounded by Angelic hosts, unto whom He will associate the souls of the elect, and carry them aloft with Him to the heavenly choirs, "above whom the Holy Mother of God is exalted." To those, therefore, who make use of the pious prayers of the Rosary in this Sodality, may be well applied the words with which St. Paul addressed the new Christians: "You are come to Mount Sion, and to the city of the living God, the Heavenly Jerusalem, and to the company of many thousands of Angels" (Heb. xii., 22). What more divine, what more delightful, than to meditate and pray with the Angels? With what confidence may we not hope that those who on earth have united with the Angels in this ministry will one day enjoy their blessed company in Heaven?
For these reasons the Roman Pontiffs have ever given the highest praise to this Sodality of Our Lady. Innocent VIII. calls it "a most devout confraternity" (Splendor Paternae Gloriae, Feb. 26, 1491.) Pius V declares that by its virtue "Christians began suddenly to be transformed into other men, the darkness of heresy to be dispelled, and the light of Catholic faith to shine forth" (Consueverunt Romani Pontifices, September 17, 1569). Sixtus V, noting how fruitful for religion this Sodality was, professed himself most devoted to it. Many others, too, enriched it with numerous and very special indulgences, or took it under their particular patronage, enrolling themselves in it and giving it many testimonies of their goodwill.
We also, Venerable Brethren, moved by the example of Our predecessors, earnestly exhort and conjure you, as We have so often done, to devote special care to this sacred warfare, so that by your efforts fresh forces may be daily enrolled on every side. Through you and those of your clergy who have care of souls, let the people know and duly appreciate the efficacy of this Sodality and its usefulness for man's salvation. This We beg all the more earnestly as of late that beautiful devotion to our Blessed Mother, called "the living Rosary," has once more become popular. We have gladly blessed this devotion, and We earnestly desire that you would sedulously and strenuously encourage its growth. We cherish the strongest hope that these prayers and praises, rising incessantly from the lips and hearts of so great a multitude, will be most efficacious. Alternately rising by night and by day, throughout the different countries of the earth, they combine a harmony of vocal prayer with meditation upon the divine mysteries. In ages long past this perennial stream of praise and prayer was foretold in those inspired words with which Ozias in his song addressed Judith: "Blessed art thou, O daughter, by the Lord, the Most High God, above all women upon the earth . . . because He hath so magnified thy name this day that thy praise shall not depart out of the mouth of man." And all the people of Israel acclaimed him in these words: "So be it, so be it!" Judith xiii., 23, 24, 26). (Pope Leo XIII, Augustissimae Virginis Mariae, September 12, 1897.)
Please ask your true bishop or your true priest in your own chapel in the Catholic catacombs to enroll you and your family members in the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary. Enrollees are obliged to pray the fifteen mysteries, each of which contains such great food for prayerful reflection on how our Redemption was wrought for us by Our Lord and His Most Blessed Mother, of the Holy Rosary every week. As we should strive, where at all possible, to say all fifteen decades every day, fifteen in a week is not a burdensome obligation. Members must also have their names enrolled in Confraternity of the Holy Rosary register. The benefits are Heavenly. They are eternal, including sharing in the prayers of all of the members, both living and deceased, of the Confraternity. This is one very concrete way by which we can quite literally join forces with our fellow Catholics in combating by means of Our Lady's Most Holy Rosary all of the demons--personal, social, ecclesiastical--that seek entry at the gates of our very souls.
The Rosary is hated by the adversary with the same degree of passion with which he hates the Immemorial Mass of Tradition in all of its unvarnished splendor and beauty. The devil knows how the Rosary has defeated him and his wiles in the past. This is what he, the ultimate trickster of darkness who hates our souls because they are made in the image and likeness of the One He hates, the Blessed Trinity, will use every trick he has in his dirty book to trap us into thinking that we are too tired or too busy or, God forbid, too "sophisticated" to pray the Rosary well or to promote it publicly as the signal means by which a just social order according to the Mind of Christ the King as He has discharged It exclusively in His Catholic Church can be established, maintained and renewed with constant spiritual vigor. The devil will seek to discourage us from carrying extra Rosaries (and Rosary instruction pamphlets) on our person to hand out to the lost souls who are the victims of Modernity's and Modernism's assaults against the Deposit of Faith. The adversary will attempt to convince us that it is "just too much" for us to carry Green Scapulars and blessed Miraculous Medals to hand out to those whom God's Holy Providence puts in our lives on a daily basis. We must call upon Saint Michael the Archangel and to recite the August Queen of Heaven Prayer to resist these demonic efforts to dissuade us in our own devotion to Our Lady's Most Holy Rosary and its public promotion.
Such is the devil's hatred for Our Lady and the power of her Most Holy Rosary that there are, sadly, many Catholics who disparage Our Lady's Most Holy Rosary, including some who discount the fact that Our Lady had appeared to Saint Dominic to give him her Psalter. Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI has admitted that he does not pray the Rosary every day, only when he can find time for it, almost never mentioning this Heavenly weapon to promote the salvation of our souls and to fight heresy in his public allocutions. Anyone who has a cavalier attitude about Our Lady's Most Holy Rosary is, whether or not he realizes it, doing the work of the devil.
Blessed Alan de la Roche, O.P., who was visited by Our Lady and Saint Dominic in 1460 to revive the praying of the Rosary after it had fallen into a period of disuse, made it clear that it is only the devil who seeks to disparage devotion to the Mother of God and to her Most Holy Rosary, which consist of fifteen meditations on the very mysteries of our salvation:
Blessed Alan [de la Roche] relates that a certain Cardinal Pierre, whose titular church was that of Saint Mary-beyond-the-Tiber, was a great friend of Saint Dominic's and had learned from him to have a great devotion to the holy Rosary. He grew to love it so much that he never ceased singing its praises and encouraging everyone he met to embrace it. Eventually he was sent as legate to the Holy Land to the Christians who were fighting against the Saracens. So successfully did he convince the Christian army of the power of the Rosary that they all started saying it and stormed heaven for help in a battle in which they knew they would be pitifully outnumbered. And in fact, their three thousand triumphed over an enemy of one hundred thousand.
As we have seen, the devils have an overwhelming fear of the Rosary. Saint Bernard says that the Angelic Salutation puts them to flight and makes all hell tremble. Blessed Alan assures us that he has seen several people delivered from Satan's bondage after taking up the holy Rosary, even though they had previously sold themselves to him, body and soul, by renouncing their baptismal vows and their allegiance to Jesus Christ.
In 1578, a woman of Antwerp had given herself to the devil and signed a contract with her own blood. Shortly afterwards she was stricken with remorse and had an intense desire to make amends for this terrible deed. So she sought out a kind and wise confessor to find out how she could be set free from the power of the devil.
She found a wise and holy priest, who advised her to go to Father Henry, director of the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary, at the Dominican Friary, to be enrolled there and to make her confession. Accordingly, she asked to see him but met, not Father Henry, but the devil disguised as a friar. He reproved her severely and said she could never hope to receive God's grace, and there was no way of revoking what she had signed. This grieved her greatly but she did not lose hope in God's mercy and sought out Father Henry once more, only to find the devil a second time, and to meet with a second rebuff. She came back a third time and then at last, by divine providence, she found Father Henry in person, the priest whom she had been looking for, and he treated her with great kindness, urging her to throw herself on the mercy of God and to make a good confession. He then received her into the Confraternity and told her to say the Rosary frequently.
One day, while Father Henry was celebrating Mass for her, Our Lady forced the devil to give her back the contract she had signed. In this way she was delivered from the devil by the authority of Mary and by devotion to the holy Rosary. (Saint Louis Grignion de Montfort, The Secret of the Rosary, pp. 80-82.)
The devil has good reason to hate Our Lady's Most Holy Rosary. Pope Saint Pius V called upon Catholics to pray the Rosary for the success of the combined Christian forces against the infidel Turks in the Battle of Lepanto on October 7, 1571, a remarkable feat in the annals of naval warfare, wrought solely by the power of Our Lady's Most Holy Rosary.
Saint Rose of Lima, T.O.P., a spiritual daughter of Saint Dominic, the founder of the Order of Preachers, used Our Lady's Most Holy Rosary to turn back a pending invasion of Lima, Peru, by those hideous, Catholic-hating Dutch Calvinists in 1606:
Saint Rose is most famous for her penances, done not for their own sake, but as pure expressions of her love for Jesus and vicarious satisfaction for souls dear to Him. Her love found other means of expression, as well. Rose prayed long hours for her beloved Archbishop Turibius, himself a saint, in his trials, and beseeched God for the conversion of the Peruvian Indians, who were still practicing pagan religions. She was taught to make herbal medicines and took great delight in distributing these remedies to long lines of the sick poor of Lima.
It is natural that one with Rose’s pure love of God seek a religious vocation, but for a time even this good desire seemed to be frustrated. She discerned that it was not God’s will that she enter a cloister. A short time later she received a sign in answer to prayer that she was to be a Dominican tertiary and live at home, like Saint Catherine of Siena. At age 20 she made her profession in the Third Order of Saint Dominic.
It was at this time that perhaps the most spectacular of Rose’s miracles occurred when Dutch pirates invaded Lima’s harbor and defeated the Peruvian fleet. Due to the Reformation, they intended not only to loot the city but also to desecrate churches. The women, children and religious of Lima took refuge in the churches. In the church of Santo Domingo, Rose stirred them all to prayer. It is said that as pirates burst into the church, they were confronted with the terrifying spectacle of a young girl ablaze with light, holding a monstrance with the Blessed Sacrament. They turned away and fled to their ships which sailed away. St. Rose of Lima: Follower of Dominic and Spouse of the Heart of Christ)
It was put a mere forty years later invasion of Dutch Calvinists threatened the Catholic Philippines:
Sculpted by a non-Catholic Chinese artist who was later converted through the intercession of the Blessed Mother, the image of Our Lady of the Rosary was commissioned in 1593 by the Spanish Governor of the Philippines. Luis Perez Dasmarinas, who wanted the statue to memorialize both his deceased father and his own regime. The statue was entrusted to the Dominicans in Manila and was enshrined in Santo Domingo Church, where it received an outpouring of love and devotion.
Fifty-three years later, in March, 1646, while Spanish invaders were still governing the islands and were outright enemies of the Dutch, the people were shocked to learn that a fleet of five Dutch war ships was bearing down on Manila. Carrying the triple threat of conquest, pillage and Dutch Protestantism, the enemy had chosen a tim when Spanish warships were unavailable for defense.
Two commercial galleons, "The Rosary" and "The Incarnation," were donated by their owners and were quickly outfitted in preparation for battle. While sailing into position for the confrontation, the men prayed the Rosary and dedicated themselves to La Naval, Our Lady of the Rosary.
The five Dutch ships were well-equipped with canons, firearms and trained seamen; the two Spanish-Filipino cargo ships were poorly fitted with a few guns. At the end of the day it seemed unbelievable that the Dutch fled the area while the defenders of the city returned home in glory, praising Our Lady for her protection.
For the next four months the two cargo ships patrolled the waters, then, in July, they discovered that they had been trapped in a narrow strait by not five, but seven Dutch ships. Since their position did not afford a proper angle for battle, they prayed and waited. Fearful that they would be attacked, they vowed that if they were victorious they would pilgrimage barefoot to the Church of Santo Domingo to thank Our Lady of the Rosary. Through the intercession of La Naval, the two cargo ships were apparently unseen in the fading sunset since the Dutch ships turned toward Manila without firing on them. The two cargo ships then gave chase and closed in. At sunrise the next day the Dutch retreated in disgrace. As soon as the victors arrived home, they gratefully fulfilled their vow.
After the next battle the people of Manila began to call the cargo ships "the galleons of the miracle." After the fourth confrontation and victory the name was confirmed. Yet a fifth time the Dutch fleet appeared for battle. Anxious to defend their honor and restore their pride, the Dutch resolved to win at any cost. The advantage was definitely theirs when they found the two cargo ships anchored with the wind against them. Unable to move, the new cargo ships fought where they were and defeated the enemy so badly that they limped away, never to return.
Our Lady of the Rosary and the men of her two cargo ships defeated 15 well-equipped warships.
This victory at Manila is similar in many respects to the great naval victory at Lepanto, which was also credited to the intervention of Our Lady and the power of her Holy Rosary. In both instances Our Lady miraculously defended and granted victory to their seamen who placed their trust in her.
Sixteen years after the successful defense of Manila, an Ecclesiastical Council was convened in Cavite to study the unusual aspects of the five naval victories. The Council consisted of theologians, canonists, and prominent religious. On April 9, 1662, after studying all the written testimonies of the participants and eyewitnesses, the Council declared that the victories were:
Granted by the Sovereign Lord through the intercession of the Most Holy Virgin and devotion to her Rosary, that the miracles be celebrated, preached and held in festivities and to be recounted among the miracles wrought by the Lady of the Rosary for the greater devotion of the faithful to Our Most Blessed Virgin Mary and her Holy Rosary.
This decree was signed by all eight members of the Ecclesiastical Council. (Joan Carroll Cruz, Miraculous Images of Our Lady: 100 Famous Catholic Portraits and Statues, TAN Books and Publishers, 1993, pp. 367-369.)
King Jan Sobieski of Poland defeated the Mohammedan forces of the Turks in the Battle at the Gates of Vienna on September 12, 1683, an epic battler in which Our Lady's Most Holy Rosary was once again the decisive factor:
In 1683 Turkish forces threatened once again to overrun Europe. They carried the war into Austria for the purpose of annihilating the Catholic religion. Kara Mustapha, Grand Vizier of Mahomet IV, had boasted that he would not rest until he had stabled his master's horses at Saint Peter's in Rome. With an army 300,000 strong, the leader of the infidels arrived at the gates of Vienna and laid siege to the city. Days of enemy assaults, fire, and disease had reduced the Austrian capital to the last extremity. A small garrison of exhausted men, under the command of the courageous Imperial General, Count Starhemberg, himself wounded in the attack, fought desperately, with no earthly help in sight.
Pope Innocent XI urgently appealed to the princes of Europe on behalf of the beleaguered city and, on the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin, the "Unvanquished Lion of the North", John Sobieski, King of Poland, mounted his war-horse, going forth to battle for the glory of the cross and the preservation of all Christendom. (Letter to Blessed Pope Innocent XVI)
Before Our Lady's altar in Her sanctuary in Czestochowa, the King raised his sword and vowed not to sheathe it until the mighty Queen of Heaven had given victory. The army asked Her blessings on their enterprise. Marching towards Vienna, the men prayed the Holy Rosary, Sobieski, wearing an image of Our Lady of Czestochowa, gave his soldiers their battle cry: In the Name of Mary: Lord God, help!
Joining up with the Imperial army, under the command of Charles, Duke of Lorraine, John Sobieski, whose tranquil presence in the midst of fiercest combat had such power with his own forces, had been unanimously chosen to lead the united armies of Europe. Many a time had his fearless leadership routed the Moslem invaders!
At five o'clock on the morning of September 12, the Holy Sacrifice was celebrated by the papal legate, Father Marco d'Aviano, on the heights of Mount Kalemberg, overlooking the Austrian capital. The King yielded to no one in the honor serving that Mass. The armies of Christendom knelt in humble prayer. Later on that same day, Father Marco was to see a white dove hovering over this very king and his men while the battled raged, a sign of the victory to come.
The King gave a signal. Drums rolled, cannons roared and the great human avalanche plunged down the steep mountain precipices shouting, Jesus! Mary! Sobieski! Jesus! Mary! Sobieski!
Many were the separate and terrible combats on that memorable day, but suffice it to say that by five in the afternoon, the warrior king brandished his sword and charged upon the tent of the Turkish leader, shouting the words of the prophet king [David], Non nobis Domine exercituum, non nobis, sed Nomini tuo da gloriam. Not to us, O Lord of Host, not to us, but to Thy name give the glory. [Psalm 113:9]
The name of Sobieski spread panic throughout the enemy camp. Kara Mustapha, trembling in his boots, turned to the Tarter Khan, Selim Gieray, Can you not save me? he pleaded. I know the Polish king, Selim replied, where he is, flight is our only refuge. Look out upon the firmament and you will see that God Himself is against us. (The two armies saw the crescent moon fade in the skies.) The Moslem army fled in terror. Sobieski and his men attributed their victory to God and the power of Our Lady's name.
We are now on our march to Hungary, the king wrote, taking advantage of their distraction to defeat the remainder of their scattered troops. I have all the princes of the Empire my companions in this enterprise, who tell me they are ready to follow such a leader not only into Hungary but to the end of the world...Thanks be to Heaven, now the half-moon triumphs no longer over the Cross.
Blessed Pope Innocent XI, established the Feast of the Holy Name of Mary to be celebrated on the twelfth of September each year as a perpetual memory of the victory of Vienna. (The Garland of Roses)
As important as these victories wrought by Our Lady's Most Holy Rosary have been, however, there is a far more important battle which each one of us fights every day: the battle that we must fight every day against the forces of the world, the flesh, and the Devil. Our Lady is as indispensable in our battle against those forces as she was in helping the combined Christian forces defeat the Mohammedans 439 years ago. We need Our Lady's constant intercession to help us avoid sin and to scale the heights of sanctity, especially in these times of apostasy and betrayal.
Make no mistake about it, ladies and gentlemen: the public promotion of the Rosary, which consists, as the Psalter of Our Lady, fifteen decades of ten Hail Marys each, is feared by the adversary, who prowls about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Pope Leo XIII, writing to Italian Catholics in the midst of the ongoing assaults by the Judeo-Masonic regime that had overthrown the Papal States on September 20, 1870, exhorted his fellow Catholics to embrace penance and mortification and fasting a desire to eschew all human respect in order to defend the Holy Faith, words that are as applicable in our day as in his one hundred thirty-one years ago now:
We ardently exhort you, venerable brethren, devote all your care and zeal to kindle among those committed to your charge a strong, living and active faith, and to call on all to return by penance to grace and to the faithful fulfillment of; all their duties. Among such duties, considering the state of the times, must be reckoned as paramount an open and sincere profession of the fait and teaching of Jesus Christ, casting aside all human respect, and considering before all things the interest of religion and the salvation of souls. It cannot be concealed that, although thanks to the mercy of God religious feeling is strong and widely spread among Italians, nevertheless by the evil influence of men and the times religious indifference is on the increase, and hence there is lessening of that respect and filial love for the Church which was the glory of our ancestors and in which they placed their highest ambition. Let it be your work, venerable brethren, to revive this Christian feeling among your people, an interest in the Catholic cause, a confidence in Our Lady' help, and a spirit of prayer. It is certain that the august Queen, invoked thus well by her man sons, would deign to hear their prayer, console Us in Our sorrow, and crown Our efforts for the Church and for Italy, by granting better times to both. With these desires, We bestow on you venerable brethren, and the clergy and people committed to your care, the Apostolic Benediction as a promise of graces and favors of the highest kind from heaven. (Vi E Ben Noto, September 20, 1887, the seventeenth anniversary of the overthrow of the Papal States.)
The work of changing the world and of combating the errors of the day, both of Modernity and Modernism, depends upon our desire to give up sin forever. Our Lord cannot reign as King of nations if he does not reign first as King in the hearts and souls of men, starting with our own. Saint Louis de Montfort's reminder of this truth should encourage us to get to Confession weekly and to recognize that the state of our own immortal souls will influence the degree to which our efforts to restore all things in Christ the King through Mary our Immaculate Queen will bear fruit:
It is not so much the length of a prayer, but the fervor with which it is said which pleases Almighty God and touches His Heart. One single Hail Mary that is said properly is worth more than one hundred fifty that are badly said. Most Catholics say the Rosary, the whole fifteen mysteries or five of them anyway, or least a few decades. So why is it then that so few of them give up their sins and go forward in the spiritual life? Surely it must be because they are not saying them as they should. It is a good thing to think over how we should pray if we really want to please God and become more holy.
To say the Holy Rosary to advantage one must be in a state of grace or at the very least be fully determined to give up mortal sin. This we know because all our theology teaches us that good works and prayers are only dead works if they are done in a state of mortal sin. Therefore they can neither be pleasing to God nor help us gain eternal life. This is why Ecclesiastes says: "Praise is not seemly in the mouth of a sinner." Praise of God and the salutation of an angel and the very Prayer of Jesus Christ are not pleasing to God when they are said by unrepentant sinners.
Our Lord said: "This people honoreth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me." It is as though He was saying: "Those who join My Confraternity and say their Rosary every day (even perhaps the fifteen decades), but without being sorry for their sins offer Me lip service only and their hearts are far from me."
I have just said that to say the Rosary to advantage one must be in a state of grace "or at least be fully determined to give up mortal sin;" first of all, because if it were true that God only heard the prayers of those in a state of grace it would follow that people in a state of mortal sin should not pray at all. This is an erroneous teaching which has been condemned by Holy Mother Church, because of course sinners need to pray far more than good people do. Were this horrible doctrine true, it would then be useless and futile to tell a sinner to say all, or even part of his Rosary, because it would never help him.
Secondly, because if they join one of Our Lady's confraternities and recite the Rosary or some other prayer, but without having the slightest intention of giving up sin, they join the ranks of her false devotees. These presumptuous and impenitent devotees, hiding under her mantle, wearing the scapular and with rosary in hand, cry out: "Blessed Virgin, good Mother--Hail, Mary! . . ." And yet at the same time, by their sins, they are crucifying Our Lord Jesus Christ and tearing His flesh anew. It is a a great tragedy, but from the very ranks of Our Lady's most holy Confraternities souls are falling into the fires of hell.
We earnestly beg everyone to say the Holy Rosary: the just that they may persevere and grow in God's grace; the sinners that they may rise from their sins. But God forbid that we should ever encourage a sinner to think that Our Lady will protect him with Her mantle if he continues to love sin, for then it will only turn into a mantle of damnation which will hide his sins from the public eye. The Rosary, which is a cure for all our ills, would then be turned into deadly poison. "A corruption of what is best is worst."
The learned Cardinal Hughes says: "One should really be as pure as an angel to approach the Blessed Virgin and to say the Angelic Salutation." One day Our Lady appeared to an immoral man who used to always say his Rosary every day. She showed him a bowl of beautiful fruit, but the bowl itself was covered with filth. The man was horrified to see this, and Our Lady said: "This is the way you are honoring me! You are giving me beautiful roses in a filthy bowl. Do you think that I can accept presents of this kind?" (Saint Louis de Montfort, The Secret of the Rosary, pp. 87-88.)
Powerful words, are they not?
We should take them most seriously.
The members of Judeo-Masonic lodges and other of their naturalist allies and the conciliarists, who certainly bear much responsibility for the evils of our days, are perhaps less to blame for the state of the world and the confusion that exists amongst most Catholics today than perhaps we are. This is something we should ponder during this month of Our Lady's Most Holy Rosary as we seek to use this weapon well for our own advantage and for that of our fellow sinners and for the restoration of the Social Reign of Christ the King and Mary our Immaculate Queen.
And for all those "conservatives" and traditionally-minded Catholics still attached to the structures of the counterfeit church of concilairism in the false belief that they are being "loyal" to the Catholic Church as part of the "resistance, we must remember that it is no accident at all that Antipope Emeritus Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI almost never spoke of the Rosary, refusing to do during his pilgrimage to the United States of America in 2008 or his pilgrimages to Jordan and Israel and the Czech Republic in 2009 year or in his own native Germany in 2011. That he did not do so on a regular basis, especially when addressing the young, was a crime against Our Lady and against the souls redeemed by the shedding of every single drop of the Most Precious Blood of her Divine Son, Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To refuse to exhort Catholics on a regular basis to pray the Rosary is to contribute to the worsening of the state of souls and thus of the world. And no one can claim that Jorge Mario Bergoglio has a "Marian devotion of the most traditional sort" as the current universal public face of apostasy dares to blaspheme her Divine Son by proclaiming his adherence to one false doctrine after another and by profaning her own altar at the Basilica di Santa Maggiore in Rome, Italy, by placing a beach ball and a jersey from World Youth Day in Rio di Janiero, Brazil, on Monday, July 29, 2013, the Feast of Saint Martha, and blaspheming her regularly by means of the sewer of apostasy that never ceases to flow out of this figure of Antichrist's foul mouth (for other examples, please see Blessed Among Women: Defending the Sublime Privileges of the Blessed Virgin Mary.)
Saint Louis de Montfort's The Secret of the Rosary reminds us to avoid all worldliness and worldly souls, which includes all immersion in the seemingly never-ending permutations of naturalism, and to never give up on the praying of Our Lady's Most Holy Rosary:
Predestinate souls, you who are of God, cut yourselves adrift from those who are damning themselves by their impious lives, laziness and lack of devotion--and, without delay, recite often your Rosary, with faith, with humility, with confidence and with perseverance. . . .
Dear Rosary Confraternity members, if you want to lead a fashionable life and belong to the world--by this I mean if you do not mind falling into mortal sin from time to time and then going to Confession, and if you with to avoid conspicuous sins which the world considers vile and yet at the same time commit "respectable sins"--then, of course, there is no need for you to say many prayers and Rosaries. You only need to do very little be "respectable": a tiny prayer at night and morning, an occasional Rosary which may be given to you for your penance, a few decades of Hail Marys said on your Rosary (but haphazardly and without concentration) when it suits your fancy to say them--this is quite enough. If you did less, you might be branded as a freethinker or a profligate; if you did more, you would be eccentric and a fanatic. But if you want to lead a true Christian life and genuinely want to save your soul and walk in the saints' footsteps and never, never, fall into mortal sin--if you wish to break Satan's traps and divert his flaming darts, you must always pray as Our Lord taught and commanded you to do.
If you really have this wish at heart, then you must at least say your Rosary or the equivalent, every day. I have said "at least" because probably all that you will accomplish through your Rosary will be to avoid mortal sin and to overcome temptation. This is because you are so exposed to the strong current of the world's wickedness by which many a strong soul is swept away; you are in the midst of the thick, clinging darkness which often blinds even the most enlightened souls; you are surrounded by evil spirits who being more experienced than ever and knowing that their time is short are more cunning and more effective in tempting you.
It will indeed be a marvel of grace wrought by the Most Holy Rosary if you manage to keep out of the clutches of the world, the devil and the flesh and avoid mortal sin and gain heaven! If you do not want to believe me, at least learn from your own experience. I should like to ask you, if when you were in the habit of saying no more prayers than people usually say in the world and saying them they way they usually say them, you were able to avid serious faults and sins that were grievous but which seemed nothing much to you in your blindness. Now at last you must wake up, and if you want to live and die without sin, at least mortal sin, pray unceasingly; say your Rosary every day as members always used to do in the early days of the Confraternity. . . .
Even if you suffer from dryness of soul, boredom and interior discouragement, never give up even the least little bit of your Rosary--for this would be a sure sign of pride and faithlessness. On the contrary, like a real champion of Jesus and Mary, you should say your Our Fathers and Hail Marys quite drily if you have to, without seeing, hearing or feeling any consolation whatsoever, and concentrating as best you can on the mysteries. You ought not to look for candy or jam to eat with your daily bread, as children do--but you should even say your Rosary more slowly sometimes when you particularly find it hard to say. Do this to imitate Our Lord more perfectly in His agony in the garden: "Being in agony, he prayed the longer," so that what was said of Our Lord (when He was in His agony of prayer) may be said of you too: He prayed even longer.
Pray with great confidence, with confidence based upon the goodness and infinite generosity of God and upon the promises of Jesus Christ. God is a spring of living water which flows unceasingly into the hearts of those who pray. The Eternal Father yearns for nothing so much as to share the life-giving waters of His grace and mercy with us. He is entreating us: "All you that thirst, come to the waters . . ." This means "Come and drink of My spring through prayer," and when we do not pray to Him He sorrowfully says that we are forsaking Him: "They have forsaken me, the fountain of living water." (Saint Louis de Montfort, The Secret of the Rosary; pp. 99-101; 103)
Let us not forsake Our Lord. Let us go to Him through the very instrument His Most Blessed Mother gave to Saint Dominic, the Holy Rosary. Let us take seriously the words that Our Lady told Jacinta and Francisco Marto and Lucia dos Santos in the Cova da Iria to pray many Rosaries and to do penance for the conversion of poor sinners and to save them from Hell. We are poor sinners in need of conversion! We need to be saved from the fires of Hell. We must use the spiritual weapon that Our Lord has given us through His Most Blessed Mother to defeat the enemies of our salvation at the very gates of our soul this day and every day our lives as we lift high the standard of His Most Holy Cross, which is adorned to every Rosary of His Most Blessed Mother, as we seek to spread devotion to this paramount weapon against all sin and heresy.
Isn't it time to pray a Rosary now?
Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us now and the hour of our deaths. Amen.
All to you, Blessed Mother. All to your Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, we love you. Save souls!
Viva Cristo Rey! Vivat Christus Rex!
Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary, pray for us.
Saint Joseph, pray for us.
Saints Peter and Paul, pray for us.
Saint John the Baptist, pray for us.
Saint Michael the Archangel, pray for us.
Saint Gabriel the Archangel, pray for us.
Saint Raphael the Archangel, pray for us.
Saint Therese Lisieux, pray for us.
Saint Francis of Assisi, pray for us.
Pope Saint Mark I, pray for us.
Saints Sergius, Bacchus, Marcellus, and Apuleius, pray for us.
Saint Dominic de Guzman, pray for us.
Blessed Alan de la Roche, pray for us.
Saint Louis de Montfort, pray for us.
Isn't it time to pray a Rosary now?
Vatican Council, Session III, Dogmatic Constitution on the Catholic Faith, Chapter 4, On Faith and Reason, April 24, 1870
- For the doctrine of the faith which God has revealed is put forward
- not as some philosophical discovery capable of being perfected by human intelligence,
- but as a divine deposit committed to the spouse of Christ to be faithfully protected and infallibly promulgated.
Hence, too, that meaning of the sacred dogmas is ever to be maintained which has once been declared by holy mother church, and there must never be any abandonment of this sense under the pretext or in the name of a more profound understanding
God cannot deny himself, nor can truth ever be in opposition to truth.
The appearance of this kind of specious contradiction is chiefly due to the fact that either: the dogmas of faith are not understood and explained in accordance with the mind of the church, or unsound views are mistaken for the conclusions of reason.
Therefore we define that every assertion contrary to the truth of enlightened faith is totally false. . . .
3. If anyone says that it is possible that at some time, given the advancement of knowledge, a sense may be assigned to the dogmas propounded by the church which is different from that which the church has understood and understands: let him be anathema.
And so in the performance of our supreme pastoral office, we beseech for the love of Jesus Christ and we command, by the authority of him who is also our God and saviour, all faithful Christians, especially those in authority or who have the duty of teaching, that they contribute their zeal and labour to the warding off and elimination of these errors from the church and to the spreading of the light of the pure faith.
But since it is not enough to avoid the contamination of heresy unless those errors are carefully shunned which approach it in greater or less degree, we warn all of their duty to observe the constitutions and decrees in which such wrong opinions, though not expressly mentioned in this document, have been banned and forbidden by this holy see. (Pope Pius IX, Vatican Council, Session III, Dogmatic Constitution on the Catholic Faith, Chapter 4, On Faith and Reason, April 24, 1870. SESSION 3 : 24 April 1870.)