The Battle of Lepanto (7 October 1571) was a naval engagement in the waters off southwestern Greece between the allied Christian forces of the Holy League and the Ottoman Turks during an Ottoman campaign to conquer the Venetian island of Cyprus. The battle marked the first significant victory for a Christian naval force over a Turkish fleet and the climax of the age of galley warfare in the Mediterranean.
The above summary can be found at Britannica.com . What this secular article won’t tell you is that this victory was won (against pretty daunting odds) through prayer and the intercession of Our Lady.
Pope Pius V, a Dominican prelate before his elevation, did what Catholics have always done in times of acute danger: fly into the arms of the most powerful Mother of God. As a follower of Saint Dominic, he knew the most effective means of imploring her help was through the recitation of the Holy Rosary. He ordered all monasteries and convents in Rome to increase their prayers for the impending battle and organized rosary processions in which he, as sick as he was, participated.
As the Christian fleet sailed toward the great clash of cultures, Mass was celebrated and the rosary recited daily on each vessel. This heartfelt request for divine assistance resulted in a crushing defeat of the Ottomans at Lepanto that ended their dominance in the Mediterranean. (Source: TFP Student Action )
The battle of Lepanto is not well-known in the English speaking world, owing in no small part to the effects of the Black Legend. Lepanto was fought during the reign of that anti-Catholic monster, bloody Queen Elizabeth I of England. A victory by a Catholic fleet was not going to get much positive press in Elizabethan England!
A few centuries later, however, it was an Englishman who helped to set the record straight. On the eve of World War I, G.K. Chesterton wrote what some consider to be the best English language poem of the 20th Century. If you haven’t read or listened to his epic Lepanto, you really ought to!
Brandon Vought says the following of Lepanto:
The great G.K. Chesterton wrote a poem about these events, appropriately titled “Lepanto”, which I’ve enjoyed several times. I must say, after devouring all of Chesterton’s novels, poetry, short stories, and the majority of his essays, I think “Lepanto” is my favorite piece of his writing. I’m not alone. Hilaire Belloc, Chesterton’s good friend, considered “Lepanto” not only Chesterton’s greatest poem, but the greatest poem of their generation, staggering praise from the usually reserved historian. (Source: https://brandonvogt.com/why-you-should-read-g-k-chestertons-lepanto-today/ )
The YouTube video below is a dramatic reading by Tom O’Bedlam of Chesterton’s Lepanto. With all the nonsense our kids learn in so-called “Catholic” schools these days, if only a brief block of time could be set aside to teach them this piece of literature, how it would strengthen their faith!