When Christmas loomed in our house though, my mom knew what I was interested in and what presents to get me: military history books. Ships, planes, tanks, armies, navies and air forces were her sure-fire ticket to success for Frank. In one of those books I learned about the Andrea Doria.
Now, though, I know better.
To me, though, the most interesting part of this war story is that while preparing for the battle, Admiral Dorea went down to his quarters and prayed in front of a reproduction of the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. You may recall that image appeared on a certain Mexican peasants tilma in the year 1531. And,
Andrea Doria had kept a copy of the miraculous image of our Our Lady of Guadalupe given to him by King Philip II of Spain in his ship’s state room.
After this prayer break, the wind turned in favor of the Christian allies, giving them advantages, the much sought after weather guage, which was detrimental to the Ottoman forces. As a result, the undermanned, but heavily armed Christians, known as the Holy League, defeated the Ottoman forces in a naval battle for the very first time. Ever.
Big deal? G.K. Chesterton thought so, as he wrote a great poem about this event. Does prayer make a difference? Pope St. Pius V thought so, because prior to the battle, he asked all of Europe to pray the Rosary to ensure victory. According to the Wikipedia citation,
The Holy League credited the victory to the Virgin Mary, whose intercession with God they had implored for victory through the use of the Rosary.
Take a look at the image below.
What is the Blessed Virgin standing on? Looks like a darkened crescent moon, yes? For more on Our Lady, the significance of this image, Lepanto, Fatima, the Rosary, Islam and what it all may mean, click on this link from our good friends over at EWTN. And then check out Archbishop Fulton Sheen’s thoughts on this matter as well.