On October 7 in the year 1571, a great naval battle between Christians and Muslims was fought off the coast of Greece, near a town called Lepanto, from which the battle takes its name. The Muslims were trying to invade Europe by sea, having failed in their attempts to do so by land. The pope at that time was a Dominican, Pope Saint Pius V, who was very well aware of the danger to the Church and to Europe, and asked that prayers be offered, especially that the Rosary be recited, asking Our Lady to intercede at this crucial time in the history of the Church and of Europe. The people of Rome prayed the Rosary; the battle was fought, the Christians won the battle and the danger was averted. As a result, the Church celebrates on October 7 each year the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary.
Now, let’s come forward about 350 years, to 1917, when Our Blessed Mother appeared to three shepherd children in Portugal, at a place called Fatima—a Muslim name since it was named for one of the daughters of Mohammed by the Muslims who occupied that part of the Iberian penninsula for some time. Our Lady knew, of course, that because she appeared THERE, she would be called Our Lady of Fatima. But the name by which she identified herself to the children, was “the Lady of the Rosary.” Thus, she makes an identification of herself as “Our Lady of Fatima” with the Rosary.
When we think back on the battle of Lepanto, we realize that a military victory is never the optimum result of human effort. We do not put an end to human conflict by killing some of our opponents. The events of 9/11 should make that abundantly clear to us. No, we really solve the problem of human conflict by turning our enemies into friends. So today, I ask you to pray the Rosary often for the conversion of Islam. Up until now, the Christian world has been notably unsuccessful in converting Islam to Christ. And only with God’s help can that happen. So let us pray through the powerful intercession of Our Lady of Fatima, Our Lady of the Rosary, for the conversion to her divine Son of those millions of people for whom she manifests a motherly concern by taking upon herself the Muslim name of one of the daughters of Islam=s founder. Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.
Note: This Message was composed some years ago.