|The Battle of Lepanto, H. Letter, National Maritime Museum, Greenwich/London.|
On October 7 the Catholic Church celebrates the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, but the feast has its origin in an event, the battle of Lepanto, that took place on Oct. 7, 1571, when a fleet of the Holy League, a coalition of southern European Catholic maritime states, decisively defeated the main fleet of the Ottoman Empire on the northern edge of the Gulf of Corinth, off western Greece.
According to some historical accounts, such as those recorded in the Vatican Archives, on Oct. 7, 1571 Pope Pius V entered the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore to pray the Rosary and ask Our Lady to intercede for a Catholic victory. Later on that day, the Pope was granted a miraculous vision of the Holy League’s stunning victory. He is said to have suddenly interrupted his business with some Cardinals, and looking up, cried out, “A truce to business! Our great task at present is to thank God for the victory which He has just given the Catholic army.”
As military historian John F. Guilmartin, Jr. put it, “Turkish victory at Lepanto would have been a catastrophe of the first magnitude for Christendom and Europe would have followed a historical trajectory strikingly different from that which obtained.”
A few details about the event (from Wikipedia):
The members of the Holy League were the Republic of Venice, the Papacy, the Republic of Genoa, the Duchy of Savoy, the Knights Hospitaller, the Spanish Empire (including Kingdom of Naples, Kingdom of Sicily and Kingdom of Sardinia) and others. Its fleet consisted of 206 galleys and 6 galleasses (large new galleys, invented by the Venetians, which carried substantial artillery) and was commanded by John of Austria, the illegitimate son of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V.
Vessels had been contributed by the various Christian states: 109 galleys and 6 galleasses from the Republic of Venice, 32 galleys from the Kingdom of Naples, 10 galleys fromSpain, 7 galleys each from the Kingdom of Sicily and the Pope, 5 galleys from the Republic of Genoa, 3 galleys of the Order of Saint Stephen from the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, 3 galleys each from the Duchy of Savoy and the Knights of Malta, and some privately owned galleys.