7 October – Blessed Virgin Mother of Victory of the Most Holy Rosary.
Can you imagine a hostile foreign navy just a few miles off the Italian coast, threatening not only to destroy Rom, but to wipe out Christianity in Italy and perhaps in all of Europe? This was the situation facing Pope Pius V in the autumn of 1571.Word had come that a huge navy from Turkey was on its way to try to add Italy to the Ottoman Empire and to make all Christians into Muslim slaves.
On 7 October, the Rosary Confraternity of Rome met at the Minerva, the church that served as Dominican headquarters, to recite the Rosary for a Christian victory over the Turkish navy. Meanwhile, in Venice, a Christian navy with ships from Venice, Naples, Genoa and Spain assembled under the leadership of Don John of Austria. They engaged the Turkish fleet on 7 October and routed the enemy in a sea battle near Lepanto, on the Greek coast. The Holy Father attributed the victory to Our Lady’s intercession after the campaign to pray the Rosary in Rome.
St Pope Pius V introduced in 1572, the Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mother of Victory.
In 1573, his successor, Pope Gregory XIII, changed this title to “Feast of the Holy Rosary” to be celebrated on the first Sunday of October. The privilege to celebrate this feast was granted to all those churches which had a Rosary altar. Pope Clemens XI extended it to the whole Church.
Under St Pope Pius X, the Feast was again scheduled for 7 October; it changed name in 1960 and became “Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Rosary.” This appellation was changed again in 1969 to “Our Lady of the Rosary” and it is now a mandatory memorial.
The reference to victory or Our Lady of Victory was maintained in titles and for sanctuaries the world over, in particular in Spain, Italy, France and Germany. The title frequently commemorates, even before Lepanto, the victory over heresy and paganism. Already Gregory Pisides (c 600-650) sees in Mary, the only and unique victor over nature (miraculous birth of Christ and unarmed victory over the Avares in 626).
One of the most famous sanctuaries dedicated to Our Lady of Victories is in Paris (Notre Dame des Victoires, The sanctuary is intimately connected with the Miraculous Medal and the Archconfraternity devoted to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. This devotion had its origin at the Basilica of Notre Dame des Victoires in Paris and expanded during the latter half of last century over much of the Catholic world.