On Oct. 7, 1571, two years after the Vatican urged the Rosary for universal use, an event took place that caused the devotion to gain widespread popularity. One of the most famous (and bloodiest) naval battles in history took place that day on the Bay of Lepanto, off the coast of Greece. The opposing forces were Christians, made up of an alliance of fleets from Spain and Italy, against a far superior Turkish navy. The Muslim force was threatening to take over the Mediterranean Sea and hence be in a position to attack European countries. Pope Pius V asked the Christian faithful to pray the Rosary and seek the intercession of the Blessed Mother to defeat the Muslim navy. Despite being outnumbered, the Christian fleet prevailed. Accordingly, Pope Pius established Oct. 7 as a feast day of Our Lady of Victory, thus perpetually bringing honor to the Blessed Mother for her assistance. In 1573, Pope Gregory XIII (r. 1572-85) changed the name of the feast to Our Lady of the Rosary, a feast the Church continues to celebrate.
The Rosary and the Battle of Lepanto
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