We gathered on the eve of battle to keep vigil. Professor Robert Delahunty of the St. Thomas Law School transported our band of brothers into the midst of one of the greatest naval battles in European history: the Battle of Lepanto. In 1571, a coalition of European armies joined together under the heroic leadership of Don Juan of Austria. Their goal was to stop the aggressive arm of the Ottoman Empire from sweeping through the Italian peninsula. The most notable event from this battle is the apparition of Our Lady to Pope St. Pius V at the moment of the Christian victory. Under her intercession, the Christian armies were able to overtake the unstoppable Ottoman Empire on October 7. Given Our Lady’s intercession in this great moment in Christian history, October 7 has been deemed the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary.
On the anniversary of the victory, friends and families of the Roccasecca Project joined together for Mass and rosary at St. Mark’s parish to commemorate the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary and to pray for peace and our alma mater. Some additional opening and closing prayers said during the rosary also reminded us of the 100 year anniversary of the apparition of Our Lady of Fatima. Behind the chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas on campus, there is a statue of Our Lady of Peace (or Victory) holding both a sword and a rosary.
These symbols are images that remind us both of the Battle of Lepanto and the Fatima apparitions. We are reminded that there are battles to be won for God on Earth, both spiritually and otherwise. By gathering for Mass and the rosary, followed by the Angelus in front of Our Lady of Victory and fellowship amidst Homecoming celebrations, we are strengthened to go back out into the deep.