On October 7, 1571, a patchwork fleet of Catholic ships primarily from Spain, Venice and Genoa, under the command of Don Juan of Austria, was at a distinct disadvantage. The much larger fleet of the Ottoman Empire–a force with 12,000 to 15,000 Christian slaves as rowers–was extending toward Europe.
But Pope Pius V called Catholics to pray the Rosary, and the Holy League was victorious. The story was romanticized in Miguel de Cervantes’ classic novel Don Quixote and in G.K. Chesterton’s epic ballad Lepanto. I told that story in the National Catholic Register last month, on the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary.
Aboard the galley commanded by Don Juan, half brother of King Philip II of Spain, during the Battle of Lepanto was a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary which had been offered to Don Juan by the Venetians. Upon his death in 1578, Don Juan had donated the statue to the Brotherhood of the Galleys, in the church of St. John Lateran Port of Santa María in Cádiz. In 1854, the statue was transferred to the Naval Museum of Madrid; but it was passed from one person to another, until finally it was lost.
Now, the America Needs Fatima website is reporting that the statue of the Mother of God has been found and returned to the Naval Museum of Madrid. It’s missing one eye, but it will be restored and then displayed for the public.
The following image of Our Lady of the Rosary dates from 1599, and is rendered in tempera on wood. It hangs in St. James Church in Sandomierz, in southeastern Poland. The artist is unknown.