Pope Benedict XVI

"Beauty... is not mere decoration, but rather an essential element of the liturgical action, since it is an attribute of God Himself and His revelation."
(Pope Benedict XVI, Sacramentum Caritatis, 35)

07 October 2011

Feast of the Holy Rosary

The Battle of Lepanto
O God, Whose only-begotten Son, by His life, death and resurrection, has merited for us the grace of eternal salvation, grant, we beseech You, that, 
meditating on those mysteries in the most holy rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, 
we may imitate what they contain and obtain what they promise.

Today we recall the countless conversions and miracles that have been attributed to the intercession of Our Lady through praying the Most Holy Rosary. There is however one particular historical event, which caused the Pope to institute this feast, on this day, in the Churches calendar.

The feast was instituted after the naval victory of Lepanto. A victory in which the combined papal, Spanish, Venetian, and Genoese fleets, under Don John of Austria, conquered the Turkish fleet on 7 Oct., 1571. On the same day, the first Sunday of October in 1571, processions had been made at Rome by the members of the Rosary confraternity praying for the intersession of Our Lady of the Rosary. St. Pius V, upon hearing of the victory ordered that a commemoration of the Rosary should be made by the Church on this day. It was of great importance as being the first great defeat of the infidels on the sea.

At the request of the Dominican Order Gregory XIII in 1573 allowed this feast to be kept in all churches which possessed an altar dedicated to the Holy Rosary. In 1671 the observance of this festival was extended by Clement X to the whole of Spain, and somewhat later Clement XI after the important victory over the Turks gained by Prince Eugene on 6 August, 1716 (the feast of our Lady of the Snows), at Peterwardein in Hungary, commanded the feast of the Rosary to be celebrated by the universal Church. A set of "proper" lessons in the second nocturn were conceded by Benedict XIII. Leo XIII has since raised the feast to the rank of a double of the second class and has added to the Litany of Loreto the invocation "Queen of the Most Holy Rosary". 

On this feast, in every church in which the Rosary confraternity has been duly erected, a plenary indulgence toties quoties is granted upon certain conditions to all who visit therein the Rosary chapel or statue of Our Lady. This has been called the "Portiuncula" of the Rosary.

Thurston, Herbert. "Feast of the Holy Rosary." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 13. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912.
Vailhé, Siméon. "Lepanto." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 9. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910

San Martino - Venice, Italy. Battle of Lepanto Crucifix 
At 'the Battle of Lepanto', a certain Sebastiano Venier commanded the Venetian fleet. The image above depicts a 14th Century wood crucifix is called the 'Lepanto Cross' by the Venetians. Ship builders and Venetian soldiers in the nearly adjacent 'Arsenale' were devoted to the crucifix. It was moved to San Martino after the destruction of the nearby church of the Madonna dell’Arsenale. The local tradition is that it was carried on a Venetian galley at the Battle of Lepanto in 1571, Europe’s great victory against the Ottoman Empire. 

It was the custom that all Catholic vessels carried a crucifix at the quarterdeck, from which the custom of saluting the quaterdeck in-fact originates in our modern naval services. This battle was also the largest (and probably the last on this scale) naval battle in which galleys were used.

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