Sunday, 25 October 2009

Ave Christus Rex! Viva Christo Rey! Hail Christ the King!

Ave Christus Rex!

The Feast of Christ the King

Munkácsy Mihály. Ecce Homo. 1896.

Ecce Homo!

"Behold the Man!"

"Then therefore, Pilate took Jesus, and scourged him. And the soldiers platting a crown of thorns, put it upon his head; and they put on him a purple garment. And they came to him, and said:

Hail, King of the Jews;

and they gave him blows. Pilate therefore went forth again, and saith to them: Behold, I bring him forth unto you, that you may know that I find no cause in him. (Jesus therefore came forth, bearing the crown of thorns and the purple garment.) And he saith to them:

Behold the Man!"

[John 19:1-5]

Diego Velazquez. The Crucifixion or Christ of San Placido. 1630.

Regnavit a ligno Deus

"God hath ruled us from a tree"

[Vexilla Regis, Venantius Fortunatus]

Christos Pantokratoros (Christ, ruler of all), ancient Byzantine ikon.

Rex regum et Dominus dominantium

"King of kings and Lord of lords"

[Revelation 19:16]

Dignus est Agnus qui occisus est, accipere virtutem, et divinitatem, et sapientem, et fortiudinem, et honorem. Ipsi gloria et imperium in saecula saeculorum. Amen.

[Revelation 5: 12, 13, Introit for the Mass of Christ the King]

"Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing...Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever."

Dixit itaque ei Pilatus: ergo Rex es tu? Respondit Jesus: tu dicis quia Rex sum ego. Ego in hoc natus sum, et ad hoc veni in mundum, ut testimonium perhibeam veritati: omnis qui est ex veritate, audit vocem meam.
[John 18, Gospel for the Mass of Christ the King]

"Pilate therefore said to Him: art Thou a king then? Jesus answered: thou sayest that I am a king. For this was I born, and for this came I into the world, that I should give testimony to the truth. Everyone that is of the truth heareth my voice".

"And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth."
[Revelation 19:6]

"And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign for ever and ever."
[Revelation 11:15]

"And He hath on His vesture and on His thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, LORD OF LORDS."
[Revelation 19:16]

"For unto Us a Child is born, unto Us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace".
[Isaiah 9:6]

Jusepe de Ribera. Christ in the Crown of Thorns.

The Kingship of Christ is not like the kingship of pagans, heathens, unbelievers and gentiles. The Kingship of Christ is the kingship of a God-King-Priest Who suffers for the sake of his subjects whom He considers to be His very own children.

His crown is the Crown of Thorns, His sceptre is the Reed of humility, His royal cloak is the Purple Robe of suffering, for a royal girdle He is bound with the Bonds of servitude, His white Seamless Garment of purity and integrity is stripped from Him in public, His subjects mock Him, His servants desert Him, His people for whom He suffers and dies reject Him, His path is a Way of the Cross and His greatest work is Crucifixion as a common criminal.

Behold the King Who is a servant to the meanest of His people!

In so suffering, this great King gives us a model for all Christian leadership - paternal, royal, priestly, loving, unselfish, all-suffering, all-giving and all-sacrificing.

This is how all Christian kings and fathers must conduct themselves. For kings are fathers and fathers are kings, their subjects are children and their children are subjects - to be loved, not oppressed; to be formed, not neglected; to be nourished, not abused.

For these little ones, a king and a father sacrifices all he has and, above all, himself.

That is the meaning of Christian kingship, fatherhood and leadership.

"He saith to them: My chalice indeed you shall drink; but to sit on my right or left hand, is not mine to give to you, but to them for whom it is prepared by my Father. And the ten hearing it, were moved with indignation against the two brethren. But Jesus called them to him, and said: You know that the princes of the Gentiles lord it over them; and they that are the greater, exercise power upon them. It shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be the greater among you, let him be your minister:

And he that will be first among you, shall be your servant.

Even as the Son of man is not come to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a redemption for many."
[Matt 20:23-28]

But how few among us - even among us Christians - understands this meaning of Christian leadership? So few. They still think - like pagans - either that leadership and earthly power are useful means to enrich oneself and lord it over others or else, equally falsely, they think they are merely evil, which is to say the same thing.

It is false.

Others foolishly think that it is degrading to be a servant and better to be rich, powerful, and influential, not so as to be a servant, but so as to serve oneself and oppress and humiliate others.

In fact, kingship or leadership is given by God to men to serve others and to sacrifice oneself for the good of others, as Christ the King did for us. The role of Christian leader is one of suffering and self-sacrifice - not selfishness and self-aggrandisement. It is a most noble and holy calling and we must re-learn to regard it as such.

Woe betide those who use power and rule for themselves and not for others!

The Face of JESUS CHRIST on the Shroud of Turin - the face of love.

And so we must return to the Social Kingship of Jesus Christ...

"19. When once men recognize, both in private and in public life, that Christ is King, society will at last receive the great blessings of real liberty, well-ordered discipline, peace and harmony.

Our Lord's regal office invests the human authority of princes and rulers with a religious significance; it ennobles the citizen's duty of obedience. It is for this reason that St. Paul, while bidding wives revere Christ in their husbands, and slaves respect Christ in their masters, warns them to give obedience to them not as men, but as the vicegerents of Christ; for it is not meet that men redeemed by Christ should serve their fellow-men.

'You are bought with a price; be not made the bond-slaves of men'.

If princes and magistrates duly elected are filled with the persuasion that they rule, not by their own right, but by the mandate and in the place of the Divine King, they will exercise their authority piously and wisely, and they will make laws and administer them, having in view the common good and also the human dignity of their subjects. The result will be a stable peace and tranquillity, for there will be no longer any cause of discontent.

Men will see in their king or in their rulers men like themselves, perhaps unworthy or open to criticism, but they will not on that account refuse obedience if they see reflected in them the authority of Christ God and Man.

Peace and harmony, too, will result; for with the spread and the universal extent of the Kingdom of Christ men will become more and more conscious of the link that binds them together, and thus many conflicts will be either prevented entirely or at least their bitterness will be diminished.
28. We further ordain that the dedication of mankind to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which Our predecessor of saintly memory, Pope Pius X, commanded to be renewed yearly, be made annually on that day."

[Pope Pius IX, Quas Primas, Encyclical letter establishing the Feast of Christ the King, 1925.]

Hail Christ the King!


Saturday, 17 October 2009

King George VI, the servant king and perhaps our best for 250 years

His Highness Prince Albert Frederick Arthur George of York (3 years later styled His Royal Highness after the 1898 letters patent of Queen Victoria) was born at Sandringham on 14 December 1895.

He died, on 6 February 1952, having ruled as King George VI of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions from 11 December 1936 until his death. He was the last Emperor of India (until 1947), the last King of Ireland (until 1949), and the first Head of the Commonwealth.

His family name of Wettin (or more fully Welf-Este-Wettin) was later changed to Windsor in view of the war with Germany. The Welf-Este family had ruled in Saxony and Bavaria and northern Italy. The Wettin family were their ancestors who had ruled Saxony.

The Hanover dynasty, from whom Queen Victoria descended, were Welf-Este and the Saxe-Coburg-Gotha dynasty, from whom Prince Albert, the Prince Consort of Queen Victoria, descended, were Wettin.

Interestingly, the Italian branch of the Welf family (the Guelphs) were the pro-papal party against the pro-imperial party, the Waiblingen, (the Ghibellines), during the investiture contest in the 11th century.

As the second son of King George V, Prince Albert ("Bertie") was not expected to inherit the throne and spent his early life in the shadow of his flamboyant elder brother, Edward, later King Edward VIII, and, later still, Duke of Windsor.

Prince Albert served in the Royal Navy during World War I, and fought at the Battle of Jutland, and after the war took on the usual round of public engagements. He married Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon in 1923, daugher of the Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne, and they had two daughters, Elizabeth (who succeeded him as Queen Elizabeth II) and Margaret.

The Duke and Duchess of York with their daughter, later Queen Elizabeth II

His elder brother ascended the throne as King Edward VIII on the death of their father in 1936. However, less than a year later Edward revealed his desire to marry the twice-divorced American socialite Wallis Simpson. The British Prime Minister, Stanley Baldwin, advised Edward that he could not marry Mrs Simpson and remain king, this being contrary to the teachings of the Church of which he was temporal head.

So, when Edward abdicated in order to marry, King George VI was crowned in his place and ascended the throne as the third monarch of the House of Windsor.

On the balcony of Buckingham Palace after the Coronation

Within twenty-four hours of his accession the Irish parliament, the Oireachtas, passed the External Relations Act, which essentially - and illegally - removed the power of the monarch in Ireland.

Further events greatly altered the position of the monarchy during his reign: three years after his accession, his realms, except Ireland, were at war with Nazi Germany and later with Italy and the Empire of Japan.

Though Britain and its allies were ultimately victorious, the United States and the Soviet Union rose as pre-eminent world powers and the British Empire declined. With the independence of India and Pakistan in 1947, and the foundation of the Republic of Ireland in 1949, George's reign saw the acceleration of the break-up of the Empire and its transition into the Commonwealth of Nations.

King George had been a sickly child and often suffered from ill health and was described as "easily frightened and somewhat prone to tears".

The young Duke and Duchess

His parents, the Duke and Duchess of York, were generally removed from their children's day-to-day upbringing, as was not uncommon in aristocratic families of that era. He was forced to write with his right hand although he was naturally left-handed, and developed a stammer that lasted for many years. He suffered from chronic stomach problems as well as knock knees, for which he was forced to wear painful corrective splints that kept him awake at night and often in tears of pain.

Queen Victoria died on 22 January 1901, and the Prince of Wales succeeded her as King Edward VII. The Duke of York became the new Prince of Wales. Prince Edward moved up to second in line to the throne, and Prince Albert was third.

From 1909, Albert attended the Royal Naval College, Osborne as a naval cadet. In 1911, he came bottom of the class in the final examination, but despite this he progressed to the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth. When Edward VII died in 1910, Albert's father became King George V. Prince Edward was created Prince of Wales, and Albert was second in line to the throne.

TRH Princes David (later King Edward VIII) and Albert (later King George VI) as Osborne naval cadets with their father, HRH the Duke of York (later King George V), and grandfather, HM King Edward VII

Albert was commissioned as a midshipman on 15 September 1913 and one year later began service in World War I. His fellow officers gave him the nickname "Mr Johnson".

He was mentioned in dispatches for his action as a turret officer aboard HMS Collingwood during the Battle of Jutland (31 May–1 June 1916), an indecisive action against the German navy which emerged as a strategic victory for the United Kingdom.

He did not see further action in the war, largely because of ill health caused by a duodenal ulcer.

In February 1918, he was appointed Officer in Charge of Boys at the Royal Naval Air Service's training establishment at Cranwell. With the establishment of the Royal Air Force two months later and the transfer of Cranwell from Navy to Air Force control, he transferred from the Royal Navy to the Royal Air Force.

He was appointed Officer Commanding Number 4 Squadron of the Boys' Wing at Cranwell and he remained there until August 1918. During the closing weeks of the war, Albert served on the staff of the Independent Air Force at its headquarters in Nancy. Following the disbanding of the Independent Air Force in November 1918, he remained on the continent as a staff officer with the Royal Air Force.

In October 1919, Albert went up to Trinity College, Cambridge where he studied history, economics and civics for a year.

On 4 June 1920, he was created Duke of York, Earl of Inverness and Baron Killarney. He then began to take on royal duties; he represented his father, the King, toured coal mines, factories, and railyards, and acquired the nickname of the "Industrial Prince".

But it was the Abdication crisis that changed his life forever for then Albert was to become King-Emperor, an appointment he dreaded and did not want. But he was the choice of Providence and he did his duty and was crowned in a glittering ceremony which can be seen in this clip shown in cinemas at the time:

His speech impediment, and his embarrassment over it, together with his tendency to shyness, caused him to appear much less impressive than his older brother, Edward. However, he was physically active and enjoyed playing tennis. He developed an interest in working conditions, and was President of the Industrial Welfare Society. His series of annual summer camps for boys between 1921 and 1939 brought together boys from different social backgrounds, from elite public schools like Eton and Harrow together with boys from slum schools and grammar schools.

The King and Queen with Mr MacKenzie-King, the Canadian Prime Minister

Because of his stammer, Albert dreaded public speaking. After his closing speech at the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley on 31 October 1925, which was an ordeal for both him and the listeners, he began to see Lionel Logue, an Australian-born speech therapist. The Duke and Logue practised breathing exercises, and the Duchess rehearsed with him patiently.

As a result of the training, the Duke's opening address at Australia's Federal Parliament at Canberra in 1927 went successfully, and he was able to speak subsequently with only a slight hesitation. Most famously, the King was able to give his famous broadcast near the beginning of the war - "the King's Speech" - and here it is:

"The King's Speech" - speech of King George VI near the start of World War II

Shortly before Albert became king, a position he was reluctant to accept, he went, the day before the abdication, to London to see his mother, Queen Mary. He wrote in his diary, "When I told her what had happened, I broke down and sobbed like a child".

The Coronation of King George VI

After war broke out in September 1939, George VI and his wife resolved to stay in London, despite German bombing raids. They officially stayed in Buckingham Palace throughout the war, although they usually spent nights at Windsor Castle.

The first German raid on London, on 7 September 1940, killed about one thousand civilians, mostly in the East End.

On 13 September, the King and Queen narrowly avoided death when two German bombs exploded in a courtyard at Buckingham Palace while they were there. In defiance, the Queen famously declared: "I am glad we have been bombed. We can now look the East End in the face".

The King (left) with General Sikorski, the Polish Commander-in-Chief in World War II

The royal family shared the same dangers and deprivations as the rest of the country. They were subject to rationing restrictions, and Eleanor Roosevelt, champagne-socialist wife of the US President, remarked on the rationed food served and the limited bathwater that was permitted during a stay at the unheated and boarded-up Palace. The White House, needless to say, was never bombed during the war. In August 1942, the King's brother, Prince George, Duke of Kent, was killed on active service.

Throughout the war, the King and Queen provided morale-boosting visits throughout the United Kingdom, visiting bomb sites and munitions factories, and (in the King's case) visiting military forces abroad. Their high public profile and apparently indefatigable determination secured their place as symbols of national resistance. In 1945, crowds shouted "We want the King!" in front of Buckingham Palace during the Victory in Europe Day celebrations. The King invited Churchill to appear with him on the balcony to public acclaim.

When he died in 1952, King George VI was one of the best beloved of British monarchs. He had become, rightly, a symbol of self-sacrifice and duty. His attitude to monarchy was that of a Christian king, namely that it was a role that should imitate Christ the King, the suffering servant king who sacrificed his own desires to serve his people.

Yes, it is true that King George VI was obliged to become a Freemason, as part of the usual British Protestant establishment ritual, but that was not where his heart was. His heart, a profoundly Christian heart, was with his people, his duty, the Empire, his family and, ultimately, with God.

It is true that he was not a Christian saint like St Edmund, St Edward of Mercia, St Edward the Confessor, St Oswald, St Osbert, St Kenelm and other British kings, but he was, nonetheless, a good, humble and devout man, a fine husband and father to his wife and children and a fatherly figure to his people. In short, he was a good model for Christian kings to follow.

May God give peace and eternal rest to the soul of our last King-Emperor and his wife, our last Queen-Empress!


Thursday, 8 October 2009

On a Christian gentleman

Here is a portrait of Charles Melchior Artus, the Marquess of Bonchamps, one of the gentlemen who led the uprising against the French Revolution in the name of the King of France.

He exemplified everything that was, and is, best in the Christian nobility of the old Catholic Kingdom of France.

The egalitarian modern world doesn't seem to have much use for gentility, still less Christian gentility.

Then, again, neither does it have much use for the ideas that engender Christian nobility and chivalry.

Jack's as good as his master and both of them are out to get what they can and the Devil take the hindmost.

That is the dog-eat-dog creed of the modern egalitarian world.

And what has it done for us?

It has ensured that the standards in society - at all levels - have taken a massive nose-dive into a slough of despond. Now the lowest common denominator rules and the worthless creed of Messrs Sell More, Swindle and Bolt is in the ascendancy.

Is that virtue? Is that the route to happiness? Has it made us happier?

Well, let's be frank. No.

When society recognized that the different classes were interdependent and mutually supporting, then charity and self-sacrifice were highly prized. A genuine equality of humanity was thereby encouraged rather than the spurious equality of egalitarianism which is no more than the grasping spirit of social Darwinism, the survival of the meanest and nastiest, and to hell with the weak and vulnerable. Some equality, that is!

But part of the problem is the failure by many to understand the relationship between the classes in society at its best. Successive generations of revolutionary writers and historians have so poured scorn on the values of former times that now no-one can remember what they even were, let alone understand or approve them.

The truth is that the proper relationship between the classes was one of mutual respect, understanding, obligation and charity.

A medieval knight at prayer

This was because it had been shaped and formed by Christianity and the darkness of paganism had been set aside by the newer religion.

As it is written in Scripture:

"25 But Jesus called them to him, and said: You know that the princes of the Gentiles lord it over them; and they that are the greater, exercise power upon them.

26 It shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be the greater among you, let him be your minister: 27 And he that will be first among you, shall be your servant. 28 Even as the Son of man is not come to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a redemption for many".
[Matt 20:25-28]

"42 But Jesus calling them, saith to them: You know that they who seem to rule over the Gentiles, lord it over them: and their princes have power over them. 43 But it is not so among you: but whosoever will be greater, shall be your minister. 44 And whosoever will be first among you, shall be the servant of all. 45 For the Son of man also is not come to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a redemption for many".
[Mark 10:42-45]

"24 And there was also a strife amongst them, which of them should seem to be the greater. 25 And he said to them: The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and they that have power over them, are called beneficent.

26 But you not so: but he that is the greater among you, let him become as the younger; and he that is the leader, as he that serveth. 27 For which is greater, he that sitteth at table, or he that serveth? Is it not he that sitteth at table? But I am in the midst of you, as he that serveth".
[Luke 22:26-27]

In the Christian dispensation, the necessity of hierarchy was recognised but the master and the servant were both the servant of each other since, in the kingdom of heaven, the last was to be first and the first, last.

In the modern egalitarian world, hierarchy, being natural to man, still exists but it is not recognized and no man is willing to be the servant of another but only of himself. That is the best definition of Hell imaginable. No-one and nothing is superior, not the law, not the king, not morality and not even God. No man can appeal to a higher authority against the depredations of his neighbour. The rule of the majority is the end of all morality and might is right.

Kings and gentlemen are abolished but not only them. So, too, is the sturdy peasant and the working man.

All that is left is the amorphous, conscienceless, aimless, masses with no identity, no origin, no goal, no ideals and nothing to give but only to take.

And a bizarre, mocking caricature of the Christian gentlemen becomes the fashionable butt of every uncultured and semi-literate ignoramus of the age.

The true likeness of the Christian gentleman is forgotten.

Louis, Marquess of Lescure, another Vendean General, was worshipped by his troops who called him "the Saint of Poitou" for his virtue, his courage and his sanctity. He was killed by the revolutionaries in the Vendean war.

The true Christian gentleman is first and foremost a Christian. He lives by the code of chivalry:

He defends the Church; he defends and extends the bound of Christendom; he respects all weaknesses, and constitutes himself the defender of them, as he would of our Lord Himself; he defends the honour, name and virtue of all women and treats them with the greatest courtesy and forbearance as he would our Lady herself; he opposes those who oppose truth and justice and who oppress the poor and weak; he does not bear false witness and remains faithful to his pledged word; he is generous to all, and he is everywhere and always the champion of the Right and the Good against Injustice and Evil.

Of such is the "reactionary feudalism" so much hated by modern egalitarians who do not want to be bound by duty or honour but want to be "free" - but their freedom is only to exploit, cheat, lie and steal.

Historically, the reason why the Christian nobility were often in pursuit of the fox or the stag was because that way they learned the necessary arts which were preparatory for war, since it was their role, above all others, to be prepared to sacrifice themselves for the defence of Christendom in war.

The "unspeakable after the uneatable" or the Christian nobility keeping themselves in readiness for war to defend others?

That, too, is why they were permitted to bear arms and why they wore the noble "culotte" or knee-breeches. This enabled them to don the riding boot and be ready for war at short notice.

The sacrifice of the Christian leadership did not end there. They were also obliged to take on offices of state in their spare time and to ensure that all those under their care and responsibility, from the greatest to the least, were provided for and treated with justice and humanity.

That, too, is why they were permitted the ownership of estates and wealth - not so that they could give themselves up to selfish and self-indulgent pursuits like the billionaires of our grasping, egalitarian age, but so that they could use their wealth and bounty to serve those in need and to enable themselves to have sufficient leisure to be able to serve others whether privately or in public office.

The Knights Hospitaller of St John of Jerusalem drew from the ranks of the Christian nobility and epitomised the spirit of nobility by combining both the vocation of war with that of hospital service to "Our Lords" the sick-poor and, furthermore, took the 3 vows of religion in so doing

Public office in that understanding was regarded as a sacred trust to be exercised for the benefit of others and particularly the weak and vulnerable.

It was not like today when it is seen as a means of feathering one's own nest at public expense when public figures do not hesitate to use public funds to clean their moats and buy themselves bird houses and cheap mortgages.

Of course not all gentlemen in times past behaved as they should but then they were universally condemned as "cads", "bounders", "mountebanks" and so on.

Now they would be lauded as "clever", "astute", "shrewd" and "business-like" when, in reality, they should be regarded as cheats, liars and traitors.

That is why the gentleman preferred amateur status rather than professional status in matters sporting. Games were for healthy, competitive fun and not for turning over to a den of thieves bent only upon filthy lucre which is what games like football have now become.

The Christian gentleman should emulate the "verray parfit gentil knight" of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales and be men of honour, self-sacrifice and duty, scornful of moral weakness and self-indulgence and constantly aware of their duty to lead and to serve, to succour the weak and poor and to defend truth and justice.

The Christian nobility should witness to the true nobility and genius of Christianity. Antiquity of name, arms and family should not merely be an end in itself but should ever be an encouragement to greater and better deeds of charity, courage, heroism and self-sacrifice. The nobler the name, the nobler should be the deed and Christian gentlemen should vie with one another to outdo each other in virtue.

Pierre Jean David's famous statue of the dying Bonchamps - "Mercy to the prisoners!"

Few have reached the heights of nobility and self-sacrifice of Charles de Bonchamps, the noble Commander-in-Chief of the Royal and Catholic Grand Army of the Vendee. Beloved of his peasants, he led them, at their insistence, against the foul, murderous, egalitarian French Revolutionary regime.

When he lay mortally wounded and filled with horror at a plan of some of his men to set fire to a building filled with revolutionary soldiers who had murdered women and children, he commanded that they be spared.

He called to his officers to see that they were all saved, demanding that they prevent any such acts of murder: "It would be a horror. I forbid it. This is my last command! See that it is obeyed!".

And then the great and noble leader of the Vendeans himself died the noble death of a soldier who has done his duty.

One of the revolutionary soldiers spared was the father of the sculptor, Pierre Jean David, who, though an enemy of Bonchamps, later, in gratitude, carved a famous monument to the Vendean General, with the inscription:

"Grace aux prisonniers! Bonchamps l'ordonne!"

"Mercy to the prisoners! Bonchamps orders it!"

A more noble epitaph could hardly be imagined.

Sir Galahad, the perfect knight of Arthurian legend


Wednesday, 7 October 2009

7 October: The Feast of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary

The Feast of our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary is a title of the Blessed Virgin Mary as the Queen of the Holy Rosary, the chaplet of prayer beads that are used to invoke the Virgin to aid us whilst meditating upon scenes in the life of her Son, JESUS CHRIST.

The Rosary developed out of the habit of lay brothers, who did the manual work and did not have time to pray the whole Monastic Office, of praying Paternosters and Ave Marias in monasteries. This habit then passed to the devout laity.

In 1208 our Lady appeared to St Dominic in the Church of Prouille, France, and gave him a chaplet of beads representing roses commending to him the devotion which had spread among the Faithful of saying Paters and Aves whilst meditating upon the life of Christ.

St Dominic then gave the Rosary to all his Friars Preachers to use in their efforts to convert the heterodox Cathars in Southern France and to call upon our Lady to assist the soldiers of Count Simon de Montfort, 5th Earl of Leicester, father of the founder of the later English Parliament, to defend Christendom from the attacks by the armies of the heterodox Cathars and Albigensians.

St Dominic receives the Holy Rosary from our Lady

On 12 September 1213, whilst St Dominic and his brethren were praying in the Church at Muret in the South of France, Count Simon and 700 knights charged out of the town to meet an invading army of 50,000 marauding heterodox Albigensians who were set upon capturing the whose of Southern France for the Albigensian heresy.

The Albigensians were a type of Manichee and they believed in euthanasia, abortion and sodomy and opposed marriage and child-birth because they believed that all material things were evil and created by an evil force. They had one Sacrament which was called the consolamentum and consisted in euthanasia by either starvation or suffocation. They had murdered Catholic missionaries sent to preach to them and murdered bishops, priests and the Papal legate who was sent to negotiate with them.

Count Simon and his knights straight into the middle of their ranks and slew their leader King Pedro of Aragon, much to the chagrin of Count Simon who wanted to defeat him but not slay him. At this the Albigensian horde fell into disarray and were routed. Our Lady, Count Simon de Montfort and the Rosary saved the day.

Ever after, the Rosary became a great weapon of prayer against evil, and especially in time of battle.

In thanks for the victory of the Battle of Muret, Count Simon built the first shrine dedicated to Our Lady of Victory.

The Rosary was prayed in 1529 at the Siege of Vienna and a great victory won under Count Nicholas von Salm against the Ottoman Turks and their Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent.

In 1571 Pope St Pius V instituted the Feast of Our Lady of Victory as an annual feast to commemorate the victory of Lepanto, off the Greek coast, the huge naval battle won by the Christian navies against the navy of the invading Muslim Turkish hosts. The Turkish navies were many times larger than the Christian navies and had been bent upon conquering the whole of Christendom and enslaving all Christians.

Allegory of the Battle of Lepanto with our Lady and the saints interceding

The victory was attributed to our Lady, as a rosary procession took place on that day in St. Peter's Square in Rome for the success of the forces of the Holy League to hold back the Muslim forces from over-running Western Europe.

In 1573, Pope Gregory XIII changed the title of this feast-day to the Feast of the Holy Rosary. This feast was extended by Pope Clement XII to the whole of the Latin Rite, inserting it into the Roman Calendar in 1716, and assigning it to the first Sunday in October.

King Jan Sobieski and his army at the Battle of Vienna, 12 September 1683

On 12 September (that date again!) 1683, King Jan Sobieski, appointed commander by Roman Emperor Leopold I, and his Polish Hussars, inflicted a massive defeat upon the Turkish hosts in the Battle of Vienna. Again a Rosary campaign had preceded his victory.

Venerable Pope Innocent XI instituted the Feast of the Holy Name of Mary on 12 September to mark the victory obtained by praying to our Lady.

Kara Mustapha Pasha, the commander of the Turkish host, was unfairly executed by his own king, Sultan Mehmed II, after losing the Battle of Vienna

Pope St Pius X changed the date to 7 October in 1913, being the actual date of the great victory at Lepanto.

In 1969, Pope Paul VI changed the name of the feast to Our Lady of the Rosary.

Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary, pray for us!