Sunday, October 06, 2019

Lepanto,the Rosary and History



Unlike Rotary, being Catholic means you get to carry a lot of historical baggage. Most pew warmers have little idea of the colourful anthology that goes with ticking the Catholic box on the census form.
Today,October 7th  is the "Don't mention the war" day. In devotional terms it appears as the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. Sounds pretty innocent and we have a couple of parishes and schools in Brisbane dedicated to to OLR. ( Catholics invented religious acronyms )

However back in 1571 long before interfaith dialogue and non violent conflict resolution Christians and Muslims faced off in the messy Battle of Lepanto. It came to a grand final on October 7 that year with the Christians 1 defeating the Muslims 0

The connection with Mary aka BVM is that the commander in chief of the Christian in this battle was a saintly but war savvy Pope Pius V ( that's a 5 not a V). As well as building a coalition of the willing among disparate interests he added a dash of devotion by inspiring the troops and most of Europe's Catholics who had 't gone Protestant to pray the Rosary. As they say, the rest is history. Remember this was done long before Facebook events pages or Meetup.

"Lepanto was not the victory of Christianity over Islam, nor is its significance to be considered primarily in religious terms or as a clash of civilisations. Of course that does not mean that was not how it was viewed in a celebrating Europe, including Protestant England, and in the many paintings that have come down to us as representing the battle. Yet across the centuries Lepanto also looks like an exercise in futility, a scene of blood, gore and human misery that, at least on the surface, settled so little.
It was the last major naval battle that involved galleys rowed by banks of oarsmen. And it was won, somewhat against expectations, by the side that was willing to experiment with the use of overwhelming firepower in an attempt to blow the enemy ships out of the water rather than use the time-honoured practices of hand-to-hand combat." (Source: Quadrant 1st April 2008 )

Thankfully we have moved a little beyond the murky world view of the 16th century where religion, politics, culture and conquest all rolled into one agenda. Or have we?


So today is a good day for all people of faith to pray for peace and understanding. If you are Catholic dust off your grandmothers beads and run your fingers over the mysteries of life. For instructions just got to YouTube for video or google for a text version.

Better still if you can, send a message of good will and solidarity to a Muslim friend or Christian. But as John Cleese would say "Don't mention the war".

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