Our Lady of Victory through the Rosary

On October 7th, the Church celebrates the feast of Our Lady of Victory (more commonly known as Our Lady of the Rosary). Like the Holy Name of Mary, today recalls a decisive military victory by Our Lady’s unstoppable intercession. Over 100 years before the Siege of Vienna from which came the feast of the Holy Name of Mary, we see a battle unfold which gives Our Lady of the Rosary an official feast day.

Rather than await an oncoming Ottoman Empire invasion of Rome, the Holy League (comprised of forces from several southern European countries) decided to meet the opposing force somewhere that wasn’t home territory. Led by Don Juan of Austria and with an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe on board, the fleet set sail from Messina, Sicily and came upon the Ottoman fleet in Lepanto, Greece – outmanned and unlikely to emerge victorious – on October 7th, 1571. Fully aware of the dire circumstances, Pope (future saint) Pius V urged all of Europe to pray the Rosary and even led a Rosary procession around Rome as the conflict drew closer.

Five hours of combat later, Holy League forces not only slowed but cut off the Ottoman forces’ western access, both by sea and by land. A miraculous and important win, preventing the spread of another empire over Europe, with Our Lady’s powerful Rosary written all over it! Pope Pius V called for the feast of Our Lady of Victory to be celebrated that day each year, remembering the Blessed Mother’s intercession and the power of the Rosary in all of our needs.

The feast day bounced around as centuries passed, from October 7th to September 8th to the first Sunday of October, but from the reign of Pope Leo XIII onward, it was a universally recognized feast, no matter the day. Leo XIII added the title “Queen of the Most Holy Rosary” to the Litany of Loreto and associations of the Rosary with plenary indulgences emerged more concretely. The most recent change of title and importance of the feast come in 1960 and 1969, respectively: the feast of the Rosary became the Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Rosary on liturgical calendars, then became a mandatory memorial.

Our Lady of the Rosary holds patronage in many chapels, cathedrals, and dioceses – some of note being the Diocese of Malaga, Spain, the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary in the Sanctuary of Fatima, Portugal, the Chapel of the Virgin of the Rosary in Puebla City, Mexico (once called the Eighth Wonder of the World), and the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Rosary in Duluth, Minnesota.

The month of October is dedicated to the Rosary, an active participation in the life of Mary and Jesus. This feast provides us with the perfect opportunity to dive into this meditative prayer – which we see is life-changing and history-making. Join us this Month of the Rosary at the Family Rosary Across America, nightly at 7 PM Central Time, to pray with and for your family across the nation and the world.

Our Lady of the Rosary, 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!

Colleen R. Schena serves as the Junior Copywriter for Relevant Radio. She is a graduate of Marian University Indianapolis with a Bachelor of Arts in Theology. Colleen has a deep passion for writing fiction and nonfiction, hiking, and nature photography.