As Pope Innocent XI watched the overwhelming Ottoman troops close in on Vienna, Austria, vulnerable and with little allied support, he did the one thing we should all do in times of uncertainty, difficulty, and (in the case of King John III Sobieski of Poland, a major combatant) crisis: he turned to the Blessed Mother for her help. He implored all of the Holy Roman Empire to recite the Rosary and call upon the holy name of Mary (whose name stems from Exodus’ Mirjam or Miriam, meaning “rebellion”) to protect the nation – and everyone who would be in danger if Poland fell to the invasion.
Just before what became known as the Battle of Vienna, Sobieski entrusted himself and his 75,000 troops to the Blessed Mother, asking for her miraculous intercession and protection as his army defended their nation. Miraculously, Mary seems to like her underdogs.
Kahlenberg Mountain saw the first wave of the Ottoman attack before it ever saw sunrise on September 11th, 1683. Its soils also an incredibly surprising turn of events: the powerful, unstoppable Ottoman forces were beaten back by the combined Polish, Lithuanian, and German troops led by King Sobieski – forces they had initially planned on avoiding by attacking so early in the morning. The quick, miraculous rebound boosted confidence and morale, and soon the Polish-Holy Roman army beat them back through several villages. With the Ottoman forces still focused on laying siege, the Polish forces were able to flank them, closing off an easy escape and dwindling the numbers so that, by the time the calvary charge had concluded the evening of September 12th, the miraculous victory went to the Holy Roman Empire and Vienna was saved.
This decisive victory was the beginning of the end for the Ottoman Empire’s expansion, and a breath of relief for the nations at risk of being conquered.
Sobieski marveled gratefully at their preservation and their victory, turning the glory back to God and His Mother: “Venimus, vidimus, Deus vicit” – “We came, we saw, God conquered”. Our Lady protected and provided!
While most of us (likely) won’t be fighting the Ottoman Empire, the battle that is commemorated today and with this feast highlight just how powerful the name of Mary is in our lives. In our history, Mary has protected countries, stopped battles, led to victories, miraculously healed, and even showed us a dancing sun. Her invocation has the capacity to completely change our lives.
The Church gives us abundant resources which we can use to call out to Mary in our need: the Hail Mary, the Angelus, the Rosary and the Memorare to name a few. We have names for Mary for every occasion – Mary, Mystical Rose; Mary, Delight of Mariners; Mary, Help of Exorcists; Mirror of Justice; Queen of Patriarchs. The list goes on and on – and even expands when we add in our own personal titles. We simply need to call out. At the sound of her name, Our Mother will always help us fight our battles.
Holy Mary, pray for us!
Our Lady is celebrated under many names, from popular apparitions to small-town titles. Each reveal something different about the Blessed Mother to us – and affirms what we already know of her love and intercessory power! Deepen your devotion to Our Lady with Miracles, Mysteries, & Mary, a monthly collection of stories, Church teaching, reflections, and so much more – guaranteed to expand your knowledge of Our Blessed Mother. Sign up today to receive this Marian content, right to your inbox, and check out our archive page to catch up on our year of Our Lady!