Facing the real danger of the XVI-century Europe divided by inner conflicts from the spreading Islam, the Pope Pius V undertook attempts aiming at creating a coalition of Christian countries, able to oppose the Turkish invasion. He sent parliamentarians to particular rulers with a mission of creating the common united front of actions.

A danger of Europe

After conquering Constantinopole, Belgrad and Rodos islands the Muslims were a bigger and bigger danger for the independent and Christian Europe. The powerful Turkish armada did invasion more and more onto the shores of the Italian peninsula, gaining other harbours and intending to start its triumphal march onto Rome, in order to hang the victorious green flag with a crescent, on the top of the Basilica of St. Peter. Thanks to his skilful and tremendous diplomatic actions he managed to lead to creation of the so-called Holy League of Christian countries, within which a strong marine fleet was built, able to face the powerful Osman empire. Spain, Genua and Venice, helpless towards the robbery of their territories and provinces, were first to support the diplomatic efforts of the pope. The rulers of that time understood that only by uniting their all strengths, they could defend Europe against the invasion of Islam and maintain its Christian image.

On 25 May 1571 in the Roman Basilica of St. Peter, the creation of anti-Turkish coalition was solemnly proclaimed.

Europe braided through the Rosary

Sultan Selim II, planning his conquer of Europe and introducing Muhammad’s religion in all countries, did not conceal that his another dream was to gain the title of the ruler of Europe. Diligent chroniclers also noted down the fact that the sultan was afraid of the prayers of the Pope Pius V more than all ships of the Christians. Soon it turned out how right the fears and anxieties of the sultan were. The Pope Pius V called all believers to pray the Rosary everyday in the face of the coming invasion of Islam, by braiding whole Europe through with the Rosary at that time. Millions of people were praying for defeating the Islamic danger.

In September 1571 news came to Europe that Turkish ships left Constantinopole. The Christian armada, gathered in the Sicilian Messyna, set off against the Turkish flotilla, moving towards Cyprus. On 7 October there was a decisive battle of the Christians with the Turkish at the Greek shores near Lepanto. The battle lasted nearly 5 hours but historians thought it to be the bloodiest marine battles. Many volunteers participated on the side of the allied except for the regular army, among whom there was also 24-year-old Miquel de Cervantes, a later author of ‘Don Kichot’. Both parties were fighting with a big determination. Although the beginning of the battle had suggested a kind of victory of the Turkish armies, an unexpected and sudden change of wind direction made it impossible for the Muslim forces to have a manoeuvre, at the same time making it easier for the Christian flotilla, which was considered as a clear supernatural sign. Due to the battle near Lepanto the Turkish lost their whole fleet, it had not been long time when Selim II, certain of his victory, after the lost battle said: ‘The Christians near Lepanto deprived me of everything but I will regain what I have lost’. Probably he has but the power of the Turkish fleet never was rebuilt.

At the time preceding the battle and during the battle, lots of processions of praying people were going through the streets of Rome, organised by the Pope Pius V who often presided them. Whereas in the churches of whole Europe there were fervent prayers to the Queen of the Holy Rosary, with pleading her for her support and help in the fight for Christian Europe.

The victory of Maryja

After the final victory of armies allied in the Corinthian Gulf, the Pope Pius V, assigning the victory to the support of the Blessed Virgin Mary, set up the day of 7 October in the Church a feast of Our Victorious Lady, and his successor Gregory XIII proclaimed this day the Feast of Our Rosary lady.

In this way the Queen of the Holy Rosary won a victory near Lepanto and defended Christian Europe against the invasion of Islam and Turkish ruling. The Pope Leon XVIII also advised in 1883 to say the Rosary prayer in all churches throughout the whole October, and he introduced a new call to the Litany of Loreto: ‘Queen of the Holy Rosary, pray for us’.


"Niedziela" 41/2012

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: