How October 7 and the Battle of Lepanto connect to multiple Marian devotions

Today, we call it “Our Lady of the Rosary,” but in the past, October 7 was the feast of Our Lady of Victory, both titles referring to the Battle of Lepanto.
There are several statues titled “Our Lady of Victory” or “Our Lady of Victories.”

“Our Lady of the Smile” to St. Therese devotees, this was originally known as “Our Lady of Victory”

The statue pictured above is the one that St. Therese believed “smiled” at her when she was healed of her mysterious illness (most likely a severe depression)–her only known “vision” or miracle.
The statue is based upon the same one at Our Lady of Victory in Rue de Bac, Paris, where a few generations before Therese, St. Catherine Laboure had her visions of Our Lady which resulted in the “Medal of the Immaculate Conception,” now known as the “Miraculous Medal” (or, to St. Pio, the “silver bullet”):

Compare to the “Lady of the Smile”: the main difference is that Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal is veiled.

While the victory at Lepanto is rightly credited to St. Pius V’s call that all Catholics pray the Rosary together that day, credit is also due to Our Lady through her title(s) of Guadalupe. “Guadalupe” is a Spanish compound word, from Arabic, meaning “Wolf-river.” It originally referred to a Shrine known as Our Lady of Guadalupe, Extremadura, From the Wikipedia article I just linked:

The shrine housed a statue reputed to have been carved by Luke the Evangelist and given to Saint Leander, archbishop of Seville, by Pope Gregory I. When Seville was taken by the Moors, a group of priests fled northward and buried the statue in the hills near the Guadalupe River in Extremadura. According to local legends, at the beginning of the 14th century, the Virgin appeared one day to a humble cowboy named Gil Cordero who was searching for a missing animal in the mountains.[1] Cordero claimed that the Virgin Mary had appeared to him and ordered him to ask priests to dig at the site of the apparition. Excavating priests rediscovered the hidden statue and built a small shrine around it which evolved into the great Guadalupe monastery.

Our Lady of Guadalupe Extremadura


Thus, when the Spanish settled in modern day Mexico, and Juan Diego experienced the apparition we now know as Our Lady of Guadalupe, some say the latter image got its name from a conflation of the original Spanish shrine with similar sounding Nahuatl words: “Tecuatlanopeuh [tekʷat͡ɬa’nopeʍ], ‘she whose origins were in the rocky summit’, and Tecuantlaxopeuh [tekʷant͡ɬa’ʃopeʍ], ‘she who banishes those who devoured us,'” or, better yet, ” Coātlaxopeuh [koaːt͡ɬa’ʃopeʍ], meaning ‘the one who crushes the serpent,’ and that it may be referring to the feathered serpent Quetzalcoatl.”

Thus, in preparation for the Battle of Lepanto:

The Archbishop of Mexico had an exact copy of the Holy Image of Guadalupe sent to King Philip II, who in turn gave it to Andrea Doria, one of the three principal admirals of the fleet, who placed it in his cabin. When the Armada went from file to line abreast and attacked on the morning of October 7, 1571 the blue standard of Our Lady of Guadalupe was also flying from the masthead of Don Juan’s flagship. But Our Lady’s presence that day was more acutely felt through the Holy Rosary.

Our Lady of Guadalupe


Pope Pius V, a Dominican (who started the tradition of Popes wearing white in honor of the Dominican habit), ordered all the monasteries and convents in Rome to pray the Rosary, and to have Rosary processions. The ships, which set sail on October 7, prayed the Rosary and celebrated the Mass daily. When the actual battle occurred, most of the fleets were wiped out by the superior Muslim forces, except for the fleet of Andrea Doria. A storm swept through and wiped out the Muslim fleet.

Pius V was going over accounts in the papal apartments with Bartolo Busotti, his treasurer. Suddenly, he arose with his face radiant with joy and announced, “Let us go and thank God, for this moment our fleet has defeated the Turks.” Human agency brought news to Rome two weeks later.

In addition to today’s feast, the Holy Father added the title “Help of Christians” to the Litany of Loreto. Subsequent major victories against Islam were attributed to Our Lady’s intercession, especially victories like Vienna in 1683, which were also won by weather.

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4 responses to “How October 7 and the Battle of Lepanto connect to multiple Marian devotions

  1. Many of your facts regarding Lepanto are totally wrong, It hurts the message here, so I hope you’ll correct them.

    • Could you please be more specific?

    • Still waiting.I put a lot of effort into this post and double checked my recollections, though I might not have cited/linked my sources, as I sometimes figure, “It’s a blog, and there’s Google,” but I do want to be accurate. Please follow up.

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