The Blessed Virgin Mary, Defender of the Faithful
St. Bernard preached the Second Crusade in 1134, when the Turks were threatening the Christian Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem. "Will you allow the infidels to contemplate in peace the ravages they have committed?"
The Blessed Virgin Mary is the defense of the Church, more terrible to Her enemies than "an army set in battle array." "Tower of David, Tower of Ivory," She is called in Her Litany. Just as, together with St. Joseph, She saved the life of the Divine Infant from the wicked Herod, many times also, has She saved from harm the Mystical Body of Christ, the Church, when threatened by powerful enemies. As Our Divine Lord was a sign of contradiction in life--greatly loved or greatly hated--until He was crucified, the same is true of His Spotless Bride, the Church. From century to century, new Herods and new Pilates have continually attacked Her, laying snares for Her children. Yet the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, has always rendered Her victorious. In fact, Jesus did not promise the Church perpetual peace, but perpetual victory. Our Lady will always crush the head of the enemy: "The gates of Hell shall not prevail against It." (Matt. 16:18)
This battle is renewed in every century. In fact, it was one such conflict that became the occasion for Our Lady's gift to us of Her Holy Rosary. The impious Albigensians, a revolutionary and sacrilegious sect, were blaspheming the truths of our Holy Faith, and militantly opposing the Church. Their obstinate violence was devastating beautiful regions of France, Spain, and Italy. St. Dominic, founder of the Order of Preachers, devoted himself wholeheartedly to the task of eradicating this error throughout the Province of Toulouse. In order to be certain of victory, he constantly implored the help of the Blessed Virgin, whose dignity the heretics had impudently attacked, for he knew that to Her is given the office of destroying heresies throughout the world. At first, he tried to oppose and convert them with his zealous words of persuasion, but to no avail, and the heresy became more deeply rooted with each passing day. He then had even more fervent recourse to Our Lady, putting the matter entirely and confidently in Her capable hands. St. Dominic then received from Her the admonition to preach the Rosary as a singularly effective weapon against heresy and vice, and the fervor and success with which he carried out the task entrusted to him was truly amazing. Wherever he established the devotion to the Most Holy Rosary with meditation on the mysteries, he witnessed the most astounding conversions. The Albigensians were subdued through the power of Divine grace, and peace returned. But an even greater need for the power of the Rosary was threatening Christendom.
The forces of diabolical Islam--the Muslims, Saracens, Turks, and Moors--have been vicious enemies of the Church and Christian civilization for over thirteen centuries. Following the base teachings of Mohammed, the infamous impostor prophet, his third successor, Caliph Omar (634-644), declared: "It behooves us to devour the Christians, and for our sons to devour their descendants, so long as a single one of them remains upon the face of the earth." Thus the fanatical hordes of Muslim terrorists swept out of Arabia to lay waste the cities and lands that had so long been centers of Christian civilization, with the bloodthirsty ultimatum: "Convert, or die!" This Islamic Jihad, or "holy war," threatened over and over again to enslave Christian Europe under the bloody symbol of the crescent. And Christians turned to their powerful Queen for aid.
As the Muslims seized innumerable Christians of Spain, Africa, and other countries on the Mediterranean coast and sold them as slaves, the Blessed Virgin Mary intervened on behalf of Her faithful children. In 1218, She appeared to St. Peter Nolasco, St. Raymond of Peñafort, and to James I, King of Aragon. To these three holy men She manifested Her desire that they institute an Order for the redemption of Christian slaves from the cruel slavery of Islam. Thus the Order of Our Lady of Ransom, whose noble purpose was to ransom and free Christian slaves, was instituted.
In June of 1456, the Ottoman Sultan, Mohammed "the Conqueror," with an army of 150,000, laid siege to the city of Belgrade, the last Christian outpost before Europe would be laid bare to the Moslems. Pope Callistus III, the fiery Spanish Borgia, whose nation had been fighting Islam for over 700 years, placed his trust in God and in the Blessed Virgin Mary. To Hungary, he sent three Johns, in the Name of God and of Our Lady. St. John Capistrano, the diminutive Franciscan Friar, preached fervently in the towns and villages as he went, stirring the hearts and souls of the Christian people, young and old alike, until they rose up with devotion and zeal to fight in defense of Christ and His Church. John Hunyadi, the fearless Hungarian leader, raised a tiny army of 7,000 at his own expense, while a Prince of the Church, Cardinal John Carvajal, labored to quickly organize provisions and transport for this poorly equipped but ardently inspired Crusade.
The Battle of Belgrade was joined on July 14, and for five hours it raged furiously, as St. John Capistrano stood on the mountain above, his arms uplifted in prayer, bearing the Papal Crucifix, imploring the assistance of Our Lady. The Christian forces miraculously broke through to the city with supplies and food for the people. On July 21, they again streamed forth from the fortified walls to attack the Turks against incredible odds, as the Papal Crucifix was again uplifted for Divine assistance. Suddenly, the Sultan himself was wounded by a Christian arrow, and insane with pain and rage, he ordered a complete retreat. In thanksgiving for this victory Pope Callistus established the Feast of the Transfiguration on August 6th.
In 1571, the Muslims again threatened Europe as "Selim the Sot came to the throne of the Ottoman, and St. Pius V to the throne of Peter." The Holy Father ordered fervent prayers to the Blessed Virgin Mary, a veritable "Rosary Crusade," as he gathered the forces of Spain, Venice, Genoa, Malta, and his own tiny Papal fleet. On Sunday, October 7, the Christian forces, under the command of Don Juan of Austria, met the vastly superior Turkish armada in the Gulf of Corinth, close to Lepanto. The battle raged while the pious Confraternities of the Holy Rosary were reciting the prayers prescribed by their statutes. Flying the banner of Christ Crucified, given to him by the Pope, and under the standard of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Don Juan of Austria led his fervent Catholic host to a glorious victory; two hundred enemy ships were sunk; ninety were set on fire; 30,000 Turks were killed; and 25,000 Christian galley slaves were freed; while the Christian fleet lost only 7,500 men. The naval power of Islam on the Mediterranean was permanently broken. The Holy Father, who had so strenuously exhorted the faithful to pray to the Virgin for the triumph of the Christian forces, learned through a revelation from God that victory had been obtained. But it was clear to all that "neither valor, nor arms, nor leaders gave the victory, but the Rosary of Our Lady." In memory of this miraculous victory, he added the title "Help of Christians" to the Litany of Loreto, and he invoked Her as "Our Lady of Victory." Two years later, Pope Gregory XIII established October 7th as the Feast of the Most Holy Rosary, in thanksgiving for the victory of Lepanto.
In 1683, the Turks were mounting their strongest attack against Christian Europe since their first siege of Vienna in 1529. They wanted to conquer all of Europe for Islam, and boasted that they would "top St. Peter's Dome with the crescent." The Turkish Grand Vizier, Kara Mustapha, was encamped around the city of Vienna with a formidable army of 200,000 Muslim fighters. At the request of Pope Innocent XI, the intrepid John Sobieski, King of Poland, risked his entire country's safety to go to the aid of Vienna with his small army of 24,000 troops. He was joined by an even smaller Hapsburg Imperial army of 21,000 men under the Duke of Lorraine. The Christian troops were hopelessly outnumbered, but on the morning of September 12, 1683, the devout King led his Christian soldiers forth in the Holy Name of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the powerful Queen of Heaven, and they boldly attacked the infidel camp. The Turks were completely routed, and the Holy Father established the Feast of the Holy Name of Mary on September 12, to be observed in Her honor every year, in thanksgiving for Her miraculous assistance in saving Christian Europe.
After the successful defense of Vienna, the reconquest of Hungary and the Balkans moved steadily forward, under the banner and patronage of Mary, the powerful Help of Christians. In 1685, the Christian armies defeated the Turks at Neuhausel and Gran, and took back the city of Budapest in 1686. The infidels were again beaten at Mohacs, and in September of 1688, the Imperial Hapsburg army recovered Belgrade, site of the King of Hungary's miraculous victory two hundred and thirty years before.
The defense of Christian Europe was then forced to an unfortunate standstill for almost ten years on account of the War of the League of Augsburg against the French, who, as usual, were refusing to make common cause against the enemies of Christendom. In fact, the treachery of the Bourbon King, Louis XIV, was such that he made an alliance with the Turks, and the Ottomans took advantage of this respite to wrest Belgrade away from the depleted imperial army.
The Christian reconquest was resumed in 1697, led by Prince Eugene of Savoy, Field Marshal in the Hapsburg army, and a veteran of the war with the Turks since the siege of Vienna. He was also a most devoted son of Our Lady. He never went into battle without having first recited the Rosary. Learning that the Turks had put a bridge of boats across the Theiss River at Zenta and were crossing into Transylvania, he marched his troops for ten hours to defend against this assault. On September 11, in the pivotal Battle of Zenta, the valiant Catholic imperial forces under his command, in charge after charge, finally broke the onslaught of the invasion and turned the tide of Islamic advance. Transylvania was saved, and most of the Catholic Kingdom of Hungary was liberated. Of 30,000 Muslim warriors, 20,000 were put to the sword and 10,000 drowned, while Prince Eugene lost only 300 men!
It is certainly not without significance that the date for the horrendous Islamic terrorist attacks in New York and Washington D.C., in which thousands perished, occurred on September 11, 2001, which is the anniversary of the Islamic defeat at Zenta. The legions of Hell and their human instruments do not forget the grave humiliations inflicted upon their diabolical pride by these momentous victories of the Queen of Heaven; and so they strive by every means in their power to avenge them, and to forestall their eventual utter defeat, when She shall crush Satan's head beneath Her feet, just as predicted.
But it would be impossible to erase the memory of so many famous victories which must be attributed to the powerful intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In Hungary, on August 5, 1716, Charles VI, the Holy Roman Emperor, together with Prince Eugene and the veteran Hapsburg army, faced yet another invasion force of Islamic Turks, of overwhelming size, which posed a fresh threat to the Catholic Kingdoms. On the very day on which the Feast of the Dedication of the Basilica of Our Lady of the Snows was being celebrated in Rome, the forces of Christendom were again victorious, and were granted a tremendous triumph over the enemy. Indeed, almost at the very moment of battle the Confraternity of the Most Holy Rosary was offering up public and solemn prayer in the Eternal City. An immense number of people took part in this demonstration, pouring forth with great devotion fervent prayers to God for the overthrow of the Muslims, and imploring the powerful intercession of the Virgin Mother of God for the deliverance of the Christian people.
Almost immediately, the Turks called off their siege of the island of Corcyra, and in 1717 the ancient Catholic city of Belgrade, the jewel of the lower Danube, which was such an important stronghold in the defense of Christian Europe, was retaken by Catholic forces. In gratitude for these glorious victories, and for Our Lady's singular protection from the infidel onslaught, Pope Clement XI then extended the Feast of the Most Holy Rosary to the entire universal Church. In order that the memory of these extraordinary favors might be perpetuated, and that the faithful might be forever grateful, Pope Benedict XIII decreed that all these events were to be inscribed into the historical lessons of the Roman Breviary for this Feast.
In the latter part of the nineteenth century, when the Church was enduring vicious attacks from Her enemies, including the bloody seizure of the Papal States by the Freemasons, and when for a long time a veritable fury of pressing evils was raging, Pope Leo XIII, in a series of encyclical letters (one for every year of his Pontificate) earnestly besought the faithful all over the world to recite the Rosary frequently, especially during the month of October, as an antidote to the assaults of the legions of Hell. In 1888, he raised the rank of the Feast, established a proper Office and Mass, and he added to the Litany of the Most Blessed Virgin the invocation: "Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, pray for us."
In the words of the Holy Father:
The earnest pleas of the Roman Pontiffs are particularly relevant today, for the legions of Hell never rest; and even now, the ancient struggle between Catholicism and diabolical Islam has been rejoined. Once again, Islam attempts to radically remake the entire world by horrific acts of terror and slaughter. But the Blessed Virgin again stands ready to intervene in the struggle. She has already appeared at Fatima, which name of the daughter of Mohammed manifests Our Lady's powerful dominion over the cruel forces of this false prophet. There She warned mankind to amend their lives, do penance, consecrate themselves completely to Her Immaculate Heart, and pray the Rosary every day. If Her requests were granted, She said, God would grant peace to the world. If not, She warned that there would come a second World War, and prophesied that if men still remained obstinate, "the great, great war will begin in the second half of the twentieth century."
The second World War is now recorded history. Yet, unfortunately, men still did not "cease offending God," as Our Lady of Fatima pleaded, and in the 1970's the various sects of Islam proclaimed another Jihad--a "holy war"--against the non-Muslim nations of earth. The close of the twentieth century was awash in the blood of literally millions of its victims, in Israel, Lebanon, Sudan, Indonesia, Ethiopia, Rwanda, the Philippines, Cyprus, Malaysia, Tunisia, Algeria, and dozens of other countries throughout the world.
At the dawn of a new millennium, we have awakened to the terrible horror of Satanic Islam on our own shores, a terror which threatens to plunge our nation (and perhaps the world) into chaos and anarchy, or the equally dreaded horror of a one-world socialist police state. However, in a time of uncertainty and crisis, we must be careful to maintain a truly Catholic perspective and motivation. The legions of Hell must again be resisted as of old, but not merely for the purpose of preserving the insidious materialism and hedonism of our country, which is gravely offensive to God; nor yet for purposes of revenge; "Do not avenge yourselves... for it is written, vengeance is Mine, I will repay, saith the Lord." (Rom. 12:19); nor for the preservation of Freemasonic principles of government; but rather to preserve the freedom to practice our holy Catholic Faith in relative peace and security, and to continue to labor for the reign of Christ the King, for the salvation of the souls of mankind, and the ultimate triumph of Mary's Immaculate Heart.
As Catholics, what should grieve us most about the horrors of war, especially a war of terror, is that most of those who perish in it, as little Jacinta of Fatima said, "...will go to Hell." And this is especially true because no one is willing to pray for "so many souls," who "go to Hell because there is no one to pray and sacrifice for them." In view of this, let us rededicate ourselves as Crusaders of the Most Holy Rosary, as fervently as did our valiant forefathers in the Faith, in similar times of urgent spiritual and temporal need.
Let us take up our spiritual arms, the Holy Rosary, lovingly given to us by the Immaculate Queen of Heaven at the very outset of this ancient battle with evil, and with all the love and devotion in our hearts, implore Her aid and intercession; not only for the destruction of militant Islam, but also for the complete and true conversion of our beloved country and all of its citizens to the One, True Church of Christ.
Let us Pray: Defend us, O Lord, from all dangers of soul and of body; and through the intercession of the blessed and glorious ever Virgin Mary, Mother of God, together with that of all the Saints, grant us, we beseech Thee, health and peace, that all adversities and errors being overcome, Thy Church may serve Thee with tranquil liberty; through Our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, forever, unto ages of ages. Amen.
Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, pray for us!
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