Many historians claim the Battle of Lepanto…..”the greatest naval battle in history”. The Battle of Lepanto, so crucial from stopping the Muslim onslaught into Europe (and the world), was October 7, 1571, however……………………
On March 7, 1571, the Holy League was formed by Spain, Venice, and the Papal States of the pope. The pope ordered prayers and fasts, and emphasized the importance of the rosary to victory. The men would need the help; the Holy League was badly outnumbered. The Ottoman fleet was 100,000 men and over 300 war galleys strong. The Holy League had 208 war galleys and 80,000 men – 30,00 soldiers, 50,000 manning the oars. Nevertheless, Pope Pius V ordered the ships out to meet the Turks. The Turks had called Rome “the Red Apple,” a resplendent and valuable prize, and Pius had no doubt that that was where they would head if not faced down.
The Holy League was led by Don John of Austria, the bastard son of Emperor Charles V and half brother of Phillip II, the King of Spain. He was 24. In him Pius saw “someone who in council would rise above pettiness and envy, who in battle would lead without flinching.” It was needed.
An awesome recount of “The Battle of Lepanto” by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI is here. He writes how …”splendid and terrible deeds were done“ and about “the horrible atrocities perpetrated by Mustapha upon the helpless Christians who had surrendered. A quiver of rage passed through the floating city of armed men. Nothing could have been better timed to make them fight like holy madmen.”
One of the greatest minds of the 20th and 21st centuries, Pope Emeritus Benedict’s XVI gift of writing is truly…………..a gift!