Temporal Victories of the Rosary

Article taken from number 229 of Action Familiale et Scolaire 

Against the Cathars

The earliest of these victories is a victory against the Cathars.  It took place on the 12th of September 1213 at Muret.  It was won by 800 French knights called up by Pope Innocent III and led by Simon de Montfort.  They faced an army of 34,000 men :  Cathars reinforced by Spaniards led by Peter II of Aragon.  All through the battle, Saint Dominic had the Rosary recited in the church at Muret.  It was a tremendous victory:  8 were killed on the French side, 10,000 on the Spanish and Cathar side, including Peter II.  The victory enabled the return of peace.

Against Islam

There were three great battles against the Muslims.  The first was a naval battle, which took place at Lepanto on the 7th of October 1571.  The beginning of the 16th century had seen a formidable expansion of Islam.  Begun by Suleyman the Magnificent, it was continued by his successor, Selim II.  The danger became such that Pope Pius V intervened and succeeded in forming a coalition with Philip II of Spain and the Republic of Venice.  200 galleons, 100 vessels, 50,000 men (Italians, Spaniards and Germans) and 4,500 knights were brought together.  Don Juan of Austria (24 years old), son of Charles V and brother of Philip II, was chosen to head the expedition.  He received, from the Papal Legate, the flag of the coalition, which carried on one side Christ on the Cross, and on the other side, the coats of arms of the Pope, of Spain and of Venice.  The Pope had a Rosary handed out to each soldier and during the three days preceding the cast off, everyone made a confession and took communion.  On the 14th of August 1571, Cyprus fell to the Muslims.  The Pope asked to attack as quickly as possible and guaranteed a victory.  The fleet cast off on the 16th of September, and on Sunday, the 7th of October, the first Sunday of October, the day consecrated to the Holy Rosary in all the confraternities , she met, off Corfu, the Turkish fleet, composed of 300 vessels and 120,000 troops. 

Towards 1 p.m., on a given signal, Don Juan and all the Christians fell to their knees and, following the Pope’s request, prayed aloud to Almighty God and hailed the Most Holy Virgin Mary.  Then the battle commenced.  The coalition began by losing eight galleons.  Soon the 500 boats were side by side, and the troops came into play.  Don Juan’s boat was fought off twice.  But he attacked a third time and won the victory by killing their leader, Ali Pacha, and the 500 janissaries who were to protect him.

In Rome, during this time, the Pope had the Rosary prayed in all the convents and colleges.  He himself fasted and prayed during the night of the 6th to the 7th and then recited the Rosary all day long.  In the afternoon, he was interrupted by his Treasurer and had to take care of some business.  Suddenly, he got up, opened a window, raised his eyes to Heaven, stayed like that for a few moments, then became pensive and said to his Treasurer :  « Now is not the time for business, go and give thanks to God, because our fleet has just met the Turkish fleet and has this hour been victorious. »  He himself went to his private altar to give thanks.  Moreover, the news only came officially to Rome two weeks later, on the 21st of October by way of a letter sent overland by Don Juan.

A third of the Turkish fleet was sunk, half of it was captured  and the rest (40 out of 300 ships) fled.  There were 40,000 killed, 8,000 prisoners ;  and 12,000 slaves were freed.  On the Christian side, there were only 15 galleons sunk ; and there were less than 800 killed, and as many wounded.  This was the greatest battle of modern times.  To find the equivalent it is necessary to go back twenty centuries :  to the battle of Salamis in 480 B.C., although there the enemy lost fewer men.

Pope Pius V gave thanks by instituting the 7th of October as the Feast of Our Lady of Victory throughout the Catholic Church, and added the invocation ‘’Help of Christians’’ to the Litanies of the Most Holy Virgin.  His successor, Gregory XIII, instituted the first Sunday in October as the Feast of the Holy Rosary.

Ottoman power continued to be a threat to Christianity.  A century later, in 1683,  250,000 Turks besieged Vienna, which was defended by only 24,000 men.  Help was sent for.  Blessed Innocent XI used all his influence to raise a coalition to come to the aid of the Austrians.  He ordered fasting and prayer.  In several places, the Rosary was recited in front of the Most Blessed Sacrament.  A coalition around the King of Poland, John Sobieski, Charles of Lorraine and the Electors of Saxony and Bavaria, succeeded in bringing together 84,000 men, including 25,000 Poles.  On the 11th of September, they arrived within sight of Venice.  The town was on the brink of falling.  On the 12th, a Sunday morning, a Capuchin Friar, Father Marc d’Aviano, heard the confession of the Emperor of Austria, celebrated Mass served by the King of Poland, who received Communion along with the thirty-three princes in his entourage.  The religious then gave them the Pope’s blessing saying :  « In the name of the holy Father, I declare to you that victory is yours if you entrust yourself to God. »  Then everyone present invoked, several times, the names of Jesus and Mary.

Soon afterwards, John Sobieski gave the order to attack, saying :  «God is our help. »  Outnumbered one to three, the battle was rude.  All day long, the Polish King held his Rosary in his hand.  At the end of the day, it was a complete victory.  In thanksgiving, the Pope instituted the Feast of the Holy Name of Mary (in force for the past 170 years in Spain) for the whole Church, on the same day as the battle.

About thirty years later, the Turks were renewing their threats.  Prince Eugene of Savoy, who had taken part in the Battle of Vienna, brought together 64,000 men and on the 1st of July 1716 he left Vienna.  On the 26th, he met the Turks at Peterwardein.  He found himself in front of an army of 200,000 men.  He attacked on the 5th of August, on the Feast Day of Our Lady of the Snows.  At about mid-day, he had won a total victory.  On the following 3rd of October, in thanksgiving, Pope Clement extended the Feast throughout the whole of the Church.

Against protestantism

At the beginning of the reign of Louis XIII, Protestantism was a threat to France.  For after the Wars of Religion and the Edict of Nantes, Protestant power had become a state within the State.  The King wanted to bring down La Rochelle, which was supported by the English.  At his request, the Rosary was recited in front of the whole Court by the Dominicans of Faubourg Saint Honoré.  Then the King asked the Dominicans to instruct the army.  15,000 rosaries were distributed.  Also, every evening, the Protestants could see the troops singing ‘Hail Mary’ and other hymns, and by the light of their torches, carrying a statue of the Virgin Mary all around the town, which fell on the 1st of November 1628.  In thanksgiving, Louis XIII built the church of Notre Dame des Victoires in Paris and consecrated the kingdom of France to Our Lady on the 10th of February 1638. 

A second great victory against the Protestants took place a few years later, in the Philippines.  Discovered by Magellan in 1521, colonised and evangelised by the Spanish from 1565 onwards, the Philippines were completely Christianised in forty years, without a drop of blood being spilled.  Peace reigned until the 15th of March 1646, when a fleet of Dutch Protestants arrived in Manilla.  There was complete chaos.  The Philippinos only had two trading galleons :  the ‘Incarnation’ and the ‘Rosary’.  They armed themselves in haste, and a Dominican, Father de Conca, took action and preached the Rosary to the sailors, two choirs of which recited it on the bridge.  From March until September, the two galleons attacked five times, and won five victories, which is humanely inexplicable.  Each time the Protestant vessels were repulsed, to cries of « Long live the Faith of Christ, and the Blessed Virgin of the Rosary. »  Out of 200 Philippino sailors, only 15 were killed.  This victory saved Catholicism in Asia.  Since the, the Philippines have had an extraordinary devotion to the Rosary.

Moreover, the Dutch were formidable warriors :  eleven years later, they attacked the island of Ceylon (Saint Francois Xavier country).  The churches were destroyed and the priests massacred.  The 50,000 Catholics had to flee into the jungle, and Catholicism stay hidden for 150 years.

Against Communism

Closer to home, two victories were achieved against communism during the course of the 20th century.

At the end of the second world war, Austria was divided into four occupational zones, with the richest sector - Lower Austria, and Vienna -  to be administered by Moscow.  At the elections in November 1945, only four out of the 165 people elected were communists, but despite this, communism was still a dangerous threat.  A Franciscan, Father Petrus Pavliceck, upon returning from wartime captivity, undertook a pilgrimage of thanksgiving to Our Lady, most loving Mother of Austria, at Mariazell, who confided to him :  « Pray the Rosary every day and there will be peace. »  On the 2nd of February the following year, he launched a Rosary crusade of reparation in the spirit of Fatima, with a recitation of the Rosary in the family and in the parish, with the Rosary sung in processions in the towns.  At the end of a year, 10,000 people, including the Chancellor Figl, were enlisted in the crusade.

But the situation deteriorated.  Czechoslovakia and Hungary were invaded.  New elections took place in 1949.  Father Petrus organised five days of prayer.  In Vienna, the Franciscans heard the confessions of no less than 50,000 people.  Because of this, only five communists were elected.  Father Petrus then organised a big procession in Vienna.  The archbishop of Vienna was against it, because he thought it was too much.  The Chancellor Figl confided to Father Petrus :  « I’ll still come, even if it’s just the two of us.  It’s worth it, for our country. »  There were 35,000 people, holding a rosary and a candle, led by the Chancellor.

The communists then attempted a coup d’état and launched a general strike.  But the strike was broken by anti-communist unions.  Despite this failure, Molotov confided to Chancellor Figl.  « Don’t have any hope :  once we Russians possess something, we never let go it. »  In response, Figl said to Father Petrus :  « Have everyone pray, now more than ever. »  Father Petrus continued his crusade, which at the time counted more than 200,000 members and in 1955, after only six years of existance, it counted more than 500,000.

That year, the new Chancellor Raab was called to Moscow.  He wrote :  « Today, on the feast of Fatima, the Russians have furthered hardened their position.  Pray the Mother of God that She help the Austrian people. »   Humanly speaking, everything was lost.  Moreover, the following month, without any explanation, Molotov gave Austria its independence.  All the official speeches recognised the intervention of the Most Holy Virgin Mary.

Less than ten years later, in 1964, in Brazil, President Goulart tried to install a communist régime.  Following Cuba’s example, he infiltrated all the principal posts and the schools.  Then, a priest of the Congregation of the Holy Cross, Father Peyton, preached a Rosary crusade.  By the million, Brazilian women mobilised, and recited the Rosary in the streets.  They even went as far as preventing the Ambassador to Cuba, Leonel Brizola, from coming to Belo Horizonte :  3,000 of them occupied the hall, reciting the Rosary.

Despite this, on the 13th of March 1964, President Goulart decreed a change in the Constitution and the nationalisation of industry and farms.  Rosaries were recited everywhere.  During this time, the head of the communists, Luis Carlos Prestes trumpeted :  « Power is already ours ! ».  At that moment, the whole country abandoned the President.  On the 26th of March, there was a military coup d’état, without a drop of blood being shed.  Gulart and his communists were put to flight.  And on the 2nd of April, a great thanksgiving to Our Lord and Our Lady was organised throughout the whole of Rio.  Everyone attributed this miracle to Our Lady of Fatima.

There are therefore eight victories obtained by reciting the Rosary.  Eight victories having in common the redressment of situations which were, humanly speaking, without hope, so great was the imbalance between adversaries.  Let us not, then, neglect the recitation of the Rosary and to have it recited every day to ask Our Lady for peace.  It is by being convinced that it is only in associating the Rosary to actions of which we are capable, that we can win battles. 

[1]  The expression ‘’victories obtained by the Rosary’’ should be understood as meaning that a hierarchic superior or a legitimate authority ordered the public recitation of the Rosary before or during the battle.

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