September 7, 2004
Archbishop Sheen Today! -- Mary and the Moslems
By Barbara Kralis

© Catholic Online 2004

The history you are about to read is a miraculous event authenticated and recorded at the Vatican over 400 years ago. Sacred archives recall the miracle with the title, 'The Battle of Lepanto." Firstly, its historical background must be told.

The Ottoman Empire was a Turkish state in the Middle East from the 14th to 20th centuries. As their 'Jihads' or aggressions increased, it became one of the world's most powerful entities during the 16th century. The Empire then became commonly known as the 'Khalifah,' or 'Islamic State.'

On May 29, 1453, the Islamic State conquered the holy Christian lands of St. Constantine, the city of Constantinople, once the Christian capital of the Roman Empire. After the Christians' defeat, the city became known in Turkish as 'Istanbul.'

During the middle of the 16th century, the Ottoman Empire was weakened by a series of battle defeats by the heroic victories of the Knights of St. John. The Knights had shown Christendom that the Turks were capable of being defeated. Moving to Malta, the Knights of Malta successfully fought off the Islamic invasion at Valetta.

At that time, Christendom was under the care of the humble and holy Pope Pius V, a Dominican monk. [1] Throughout his pontificate, two threatening evils were ever before his eyes — the spread of Protestantism and the inroads of the Islamic State.

Pius completed Catechism of the Council of Trent and translated it into all foreign tongues. Among the Pope's most important works were his restoration of the Roman Missal to the ancient rite usage in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and promotion of St. Dominic's devotion to the Rosary [2] with the pious recitation of the fifteen mysteries.

After seeing many Christian nations fall into the hands of the Islamic States, Pius V worked to stop further invasion of Eastern Europe. He created the anti-Ottoman alliance known as the Holy League and was elected chief of the league. [3]

Pope Pius V, seeing Europe in great danger of a Turkish attack, called for a Holy Crusade to save Christendom. Many Christians, having fallen to Protestantism and lukewarmness during the period of Renaissance, refused to help the Pope in his holy war.

Still, the saintly Pope persevered. He organized a fleet of 300 ships of various sizes, and placed them under the heavenly protection of the Most Holy Virgin Mary.

Pius V sent the seamen and soldiers off to battle with a mystical promise of certain victory, which he had seen in a heavenly vision. The Pope offered Holy Mass, the Rosary, and Benediction for the soldiers and seamen.

Furthermore, in order to obtain this certain victory, the Pope ordered the admirals and generals to disband 1) all soldiers and seamen who were interested in fighting not for preservation of Christendom but only for plunder; 2) all scandalizing and rioting men who might bring indignation down from heaven by their misdeeds.

The Pope ordered public prayers and fasting throughout all of Christendom. Rosary processions were conducted at all towns, villages and cities, pouring forth solemn pleas for a Christian victory at the hour of battle.

It is recorded that 300 naval vessels, 30,000 soldiers, and 50,000 oarsmen of the Holy League sailed from Corfu. They reached the harbor of Lepanto, inside the Gulf of Corinth on October 7, 1571.

The Moslem fleet consisting of 330 vessels and 75,000 soldiers, 50,000 slave Christian oarsmen was sighted in the harbor.

Before beginning battle, the Holy League soldiers knelt before a crucifix and prayed the Rosary as requested by their chief, Pope Pius V. Then the Christians entered the fray against the much larger Turkish navy in one of the world's greatest maritime battles every recorded.

Miraculously, the wind that was calm before battle became stronger as the fight began. So strongly did the wind blow that it enabled the Christians' smoke and fire from their artillery to be carried through the air into the enemy's faces, blinding them in battle.

As the Christians came under attack, the tide turned against the Moslems for no apparent reason. Amazingly, over 25,000 Moslems were killed, 5,000 taken prisoners, 117 Moslem vessels were captured and 113 vessels sunk. Most importantly, 15,000 beaten and chained Christian oarsmen slaves were freed from the Turkish galleys.

In contrast, The Holy League suffered only 7,500 casualties, 16,000 wounded, and lost only 17 ships.

Hundreds of miles away in Rome, the Pope had a heavenly vision just as the battle was being won at sea. While working with his hierarchy in his papal office, Pope Pius V suddenly saw a miraculous vision in the sky. He jumped up from his seat, ran to the window and cried:

"It is not time to talk about business; our great task at present is to thank God for the victory He has just given the Christian army."

It took two weeks more for the actual confirmation of the victory of Lepanto over the Moslems to reach Rome. The Pope, however, had received the heavenly news at the moment of victory.

Pius V gave thanks to the Most Holy Virgin for the triumph. The Pope added to the 'Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary' the supplication "Help of Christians." He instituted the Feast of Our Lady of Victory on the first Sunday of October. Pope Gregory XIII later changed the title to the Feast of the Most Holy Rosary.

The Battle of Lepanto was one of the most decisive naval defeats in Western Civilization. It was the first major victory of any European army or navy against the Ottoman Empire. The Ottomans thereafter lost their control of the seas, especially in the Mediterranean.

Pope Pius V died one year after the Victory, on May 1, 1572 of an illness caused by his austere life of prayer, fasting, and poverty. Pope Clement XI canonized him in 1712.

All of these miraculous events were authentically recorded and pronounced at Saint Pius V's canonization. [4] His 'dies natalis' is celebrated on April 30.

St. Pius V's precious remains lie in the Basilica of St. Mary Major, Rome. The auditors of the Roman Rota have since recorded many worldwide miracles attributed to the intercession of St. Pius V.

On one of the Holy League's Genoese ships was a Spanish volunteer by the name of Miguel de Cervantes. He would suffer a disabling wound to his hand at Lepanto that would forever preclude his pursuance of a military career. Instead, he took up writing and composed one of the greatest novels of all time — Don Quixote.

Nota Bene: Update — 473 years have passed since the Battle of Lepanto. On August 16, 2004, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger in an interview warned against admitting turkey to the European Union. The Cardinal said that Turkey is "in permanent contrast to Europe" and that linking it to Europe would be a mistake. He spoke of the Ottoman Empire's incursions into the heart of Europe in past centuries. "Cultural riches should not be sacrificed for the sake of economic riches," said Ratzinger. Turkey should seek political union with other Arab states and not with European countries. "Turkey could try to set up a cultural continent with neighboring Arab countries and become the leading figure of a culture with its own identity." Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan rejected the Cardinal's comments. [5]

Here, below, is a popular Bishop Sheen vignette on this subject.


Mary and the Moslems

By Bishop Fulton J. Sheen

J.M.J.

Moslemism is the only great post-Christian religion of the world. Because it had its origin in the seventh century under Mohammed, it was possible to unite within it some elements of Christianity and of Judaism.

Moslemism takes the doctrine of the unity of God, His Majesty, and His Creative Power, and uses it as a basis for the repudiation of Christ, the Son of God.

Misunderstanding the notion of the Trinity, Mohammed made Christ a prophet only.

The Catholic Church throughout Northern Africa was virtually destroyed by Moslem power and at the present time (circa 1950), the Moslems are beginning to rise again.

If Moslemism is a heresy, as Hilaire Belloc believes it to be, it is the only heresy that has never declined, either in numbers, or in the devotion of its followers.

The missionary effort of the Church toward this group has been, at least on the surface, a failure, for the Moslems are so far almost unconvertible. The reason is that for a follower of Mohammed to become a Christian is much like a Christian becoming a Jew. The Moslems believe that they have the final and definitive revelation of God to the world and that Christ was only a prophet announcing Mohammed, the last of God's real prophets.

Today (1950), the hatred of the Moslem countries against the West is becoming hatred against Christianity itself. Although the statesmen have not yet taken it into account, there is still grave danger that the temporal power of Islam may return and, with it, the menace that it may shake off a West which has ceased to be Christian, and affirm itself as a great anti-Christian world Power.

It is our firm belief that the fears some entertain concerning the Moslems are not to be realized, but that Moslemism, instead, will eventually be converted to Christianity — and in a way that even some of our missionaries never suspect.

It is our belief that this will happen not through the direct teaching of Christianity, but through a summoning of the Moslems to a veneration of the Mother of God.

This is the line of argument:

The Koran, which is the bible of the Moslems, has many passages concerning the Blessed Virgin. First, the Koran believes in her Immaculate Conception and in her Virgin Birth. The third chapter of the Koran places the history of Mary's family in a genealogy that goes back through Abraham, Noah, and Adam. When one compares the Koran's description of the birth of Mary with the apocryphal Gospel of the birth of Mary, one is tempted to believe that Mohammed very much depended upon the latter.

Both books describe the old age and the definite sterility of Anne, the mother of Mary. When, however, Anne conceives, the mother of Mary is made to say in the Koran: "O Lord, I vow and I consecrate to you what is already within me. Accept it from me."

When Mary is born, her mother, Anne, says: "And I consecrate her with all of her posterity under thy protection, O Lord against Satan!"

The Koran has also verses on the Annunciation, Visitation, and nativity. Angels are pictured as accompanying the Blessed Mother and saying, "O Mary, God has chosen you and purified you, and elected you above all the women of the earth."

In the nineteenth chapter of the Koran, there are forty-one verses on Jesus and Mary. There is such a strong defense of the virginity of Mary here that the Koran, in the fourth book, attributes the condemnation of the Jews to their monstrous calumny against the Virgin Mary.

Mary, then, is for the Moslems the true 'Sayyida, or Lady. The only possible serious rival to her in their creed would be Fatima, the daughter of Mohammed himself. However, after the death of Fatima, Mohammed wrote: "Thou shalt be the most blessed of all the women in Paradise, after Mary."

In a variant of the text, Fatima is made to say, "I surpass all the women, except Mary."

This brings us to our second point, namely, why the Blessed Mother, in this twentieth century (1950), should have revealed herself in the insignificant little village of Fatima, so that to all future generations she would be known as "Our Lady of Fatima."

Nothing ever happens out of heaven except with a finesse of all details. I believe that the Blessed Virgin chose to be known as "Our Lady of Fatima" as a pledge and a sign of hope to the Moslem people, and as an assurance that they, who show her so much respect, will one day accept her Divine Son, too.

Evidence to support these views is found in the historical fact that the Moslems occupied Portugal for centuries. At the time when they were finally driven out, the last Moslem chief had a beautiful daughter by the name of Fatima.

A catholic boy fell in love with her, and for him she not only stayed behind when the Moslems left, but even embraced the Catholic faith. The young husband was so much in love with her that he changed the name of the town where he lived to Fatima. Thus, the very place where Our Lady appeared in 1917 bears a historical connection to Fatima, the daughter of Mohammed.

The final evidence of the relationship of Fatima to the Moslems is the enthusiastic reception that the Moslems in Africa and India and elsewhere gave to the Pilgrim statue of Our Lady of Fatima. Moslems attended the Catholic services in honor of Our Lady; they allowed religious processions and even prayers before their mosques; and in Mozambique the Moslems, who were unconverted, began to be Christian as soon as the statue of Our Lady of Fatima was erected.

Missionaries in the future will increasingly see that their apostolate among the Moslems will be successful in the measure that they preach Our Lady of Fatima. Because the Moslems have a devotion to Mary, our missionaries should be satisfied merely to expand and to develop that devotion with the full realization that Our Blessed Lady will carry the Moslems the rest of the way to her Divine Son.

As those who lose devotion to her lose belief in the Divinity of Christ, so those who intensify devotion to her gradually acquire that belief. [6]

NOTES:

  1. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/12130a.htm

  2. During the Albigensian heresy, Our Lady of the Rosary appeared to St. Dominic, telling him to preach the Rosary among the people to correct the errors and heresies of that time.

  3. A coalition of the Pope, Spain, Venice, Genoa, Savoy, Naples and the Knights of Malta.

  4. Cf. Cardinal Lambertini, Benedict XIV, and The Beatification And Canonization, Sanctor. T.1, p. 524.

  5. Cf. 'The Wanderer Press,' 8/26/04; and 'The Observer.com,' European Union News, 8/17/04.

  6. Taken from "The World's First Love," by Bishop Fulton J. Sheen, 1952, published by McGraw-Hill Book Company, NY, NY.

© Barbara Kralis

 

The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)

Barbara Kralis

Barbara Kralis, the article's author, writes for various Christian and conservative publications... (more)

Subscribe

Receive future articles by Barbara Kralis: Click here

Latest articles