Battle of Lepanto
By the late 1500s, Muslim naval forces controlled much of the Mediterranean Sea, enabling ground attacks against Europe, whose conquest had always been Islam’s goal. Pope Pius V had sounded alarms about the deadly Muslim buildup in the shipyards of Istanbul, and in 1571, a Catholic naval force supported by the Venetian Republic, Spain and Portugal was assembled and began sailing East toward the Muslim fleet.
For months, Pius V had urged Catholics to say the daily Rosary on behalf of the morale and good fortune of the Christian forces and, above all, for a successful outcome to the highly risky preemptive strike against the Turkish fleets.
On October 7, 1571, the battle was engaged resulting in a staggering defeat of the Muslim forces, which never again posed a maritime threat. To mark this victory, Pius V declared that October 7 would be celebrated as the Feast of “Mary, Queen of Victory.”
The Soviet Withdrawal from Austria
In the aftermath of World War 2, as the Cold War hardened, it became evident that the Soviet Union had no intention of abandoning the territory it occupied in East Germany or in Lower Austria.
On February 2, 1946, the feast of Our Lady of Lights, Fr. Petrus Pavlicek was praying before the miraculous image at Mariazell, Austria’s principal Marian Shrine, when he perceived an interior voice that advised him, “Do as I say and you will have peace.”
To honor Our Lady’s request, a renewal of her entreaty at Fatima, Father Pavlicek founded the Crusade of Reparation of the Holy Rosary in 1947. Through the Crusade, Austrians joined in a round-the-clock Rosary, imploring the Blessed Virgin for the conversion of sinners, peace in the world, and freedom for Austria.
By 1955, more than a half million Austrians—about one in ten—had pledged to pray daily to Our Lady of Fatima, begging her for the conversion of sinners, peace in the world, and freedom for Austria. An even greater number took part in Marian processions.
On March 24, 1955, their Soviet governors invited the Austrians to a conference. Believing that his nation’s future would be sealed in Moscow, Prime Minister Raab entreated Father Pavlicek before his departure, “Please pray, and ask your people to pray harder than ever.”
To the world’s surprise, the Soviets announced in April that they would withdraw their troops from Austria in just three months. On May 15, the Allied powers that occupied Austria signed a treaty guaranteeing its independence. Austria was free of occupation, Soviet occupation, in particular.
Fr. Patrick Peyton
Many people are familiar with the saying “the family that prays together stays together,” without being aware that its author was Fr. Patrick Peyton. Fr. Petyon, an Irish-American Priest, started a campaign to promote the praying of the Rosary by families as a means to unite them. The inspiration to start the campaign came from Peyton's patron, the Blessed Virgin Mary, whom he credits as the one who interceded before God and her son Jesus Christ for his recovery from tuberculosis in 1941.
Father Peyton was eager to reach ten million people with his message of the importance of Family Rosary Prayer and knew that only mass media on a national level could do it; that meant at the time, radio. In New York, he persuaded a non-Christian woman from the Mutual Broadcasting System that his program would be just what American families needed. She agreed to give him the time if he could come up with a big Hollywood star to be on the show.
Our Lady prompted Fr. Peyton to make a cold call to Bing Crosby, who agreed to be on the program. On May 13, 1945, families all over the country heard a program like no other, featuring Archbishop Spellman of New York, President Harry Truman, Bing Crosby and the parents and sister of the Sullivan family of Iowa leading the Rosary. Five brothers from that family had lost their lives when their ship went down in the war. Father Peyton finished the program with an impassioned plea for families to pray the Rosary together for peace. The program garnered the biggest following of any in the Mutual Broadcasting System to date.
Fr. Peyton went on to create a number of films and television productions that reached millions of people. He died on June 3, 1992, holding a rosary in a small room at the Little Sisters of the Poor Jeanne Jugan Residence in San Pedro, California. The graces families received through his Rosary Crusade are incalculable.