October is the Month of the Holy Rosary, and one of the reasons that Pope Leo XIII designated it so is the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, which falls on October 7. Like many Marian feasts, the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary celebrates the protection of Christians through the intercession of the Mother of God; and, like many feasts toward the end of the liturgical year, it commemorates a struggle with the forces of Islam.
In this case, the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary celebrates the victory of Christian naval forces at the Battle of Lepanto on October 7, 1571. At a time when Christian Europe was being torn apart by internal strife and the Reformation, Don John of Austria destroyed the Turkish fleet in the Gulf of Lepanto. His victory was attributed to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, to whom rosaries were offered and processions were made in Rome on the day of the battle.
The feast was instituted by Pope St. Pius V shortly after the victory, and Pope Clement XI extended it to the entire Church in celebration of another victory over the Turkish Muslims in 1716.
(A statue of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary in the Basilica of Santa Maria sopra Minerva in Rome, Italy. Photo © Scott P. Richert)
- How to Pray the Rosary
- Rosary Prayers
- Meditations on the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary
- Meditations on the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary
- Meditations on the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary
- Prayers for October: The Month of the Holy Rosary
- Ottoman-Habsburg Wars: Battle of Lepanto, by Kennedy Hickman, About.com Guide to Military History