Sunday, 6 October 2013

"In the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph" - victory at Lepanto

October 7th is the anniversary of The Battle of Lepanto when the ravaging Muslim hordes were defeated by a Catholic Alliance that changed the face of European history. Victory was through the intercession of Our Lady of Victory (Our Lady of the Rosary) as Pope St Pius V offered up his Rosary to the desperate and seemingly impossible task of beating back the Moors.

The Battle of Lepanto

White founts falling in the courts of the sun,
And the Soldan of Byzantium is smiling as they run;
There is laughter like the fountains in that face of all men feared,
It stirs the forest darkness, the darkness of his beard,
It curls the blood-red crescent, the crescent of his lips,
For the inmost sea of all the earth is shaken with his ships.
They have dared the white republics up the capes of Italy,
They have dashed the Adriatic round the Lion of the Sea,
And the Pope has cast his arms abroad for agony and loss,
And called the kings of Christendom for swords about the Cross,
The cold queen of England is looking in the glass;
The shadow of the Valois is yawning at the Mass;
From evening isles fantastical rings faint the Spanish gun,
And the Lord upon the Golden Horn is laughing in the sun.

Dim drums throbbing, in the hills half heard,
Where only on a nameless throne a crownless prince has stirred,
Where, risen from a doubtful seat and half attainted stall,
The last knight of Europe takes weapons from the wall,
The last and lingering troubadour to whom the bird has sung,
That once went singing southward when all the world was young,
In that enormous silence, tiny and unafraid,
Comes up along a winding road the noise of the Crusade.
Strong gongs groaning as the guns boom far,
Don John of Austria is going to the war,
Stiff flags straining in the night-blasts cold
In the gloom black-purple, in the glint old-gold,
Torchlight crimson on the copper kettle-drums,
Then the tuckets, then the trumpets, then the cannon, and he comes.
Don John laughing in the brave beard curled,
Spurning of his stirrups like the thrones of all the world,
Holding his head up for a flag of all the free.
Love-light of Spain—hurrah!
Death-light of Africa!
Don John of Austria
Is riding to the sea.

Mahound is in his paradise above the evening star,
(Don John of Austria is going to the war.)
He moves a mighty turban on the timeless houri’s knees,
His turban that is woven of the sunset and the seas.
He shakes the peacock gardens as he rises from his ease,
And he strides among the tree-tops and is taller than the trees,
And his voice through all the garden is a thunder sent to bring
Black Azrael and Ariel and Ammon on the wing.
Giants and the Genii,
Multiplex of wing and eye,
Whose strong obedience broke the sky
When Solomon was king.

They rush in red and purple from the red clouds of the morn,
From temples where the yellow gods shut up their eyes in scorn;
They rise in green robes roaring from the green hells of the sea
Where fallen skies and evil hues and eyeless creatures be;
On them the sea-valves cluster and the grey sea-forests curl,
Splashed with a splendid sickness, the sickness of the pearl;
They swell in sapphire smoke out of the blue cracks of the ground,—
They gather and they wonder and give worship to Mahound.
And he saith, “Break up the mountains where the hermit-folk can hide,
And sift the red and silver sands lest bone of saint abide,
And chase the Giaours flying night and day, not giving rest,
For that which was our trouble comes again out of the west.
We have set the seal of Solomon on all things under sun,
Of knowledge and of sorrow and endurance of things done,
But a noise is in the mountains, in the mountains, and I know
The voice that shook our palaces—four hundred years ago:
It is he that saith not ‘Kismet’; it is he that knows not Fate ;
It is Richard, it is Raymond, it is Godfrey in the gate!
It is he whose loss is laughter when he counts the wager worth,
Put down your feet upon him, that our peace be on the earth.”
For he heard drums groaning and he heard guns jar,
(Don John of Austria is going to the war.)
Sudden and still—hurrah!
Bolt from Iberia!
Don John of Austria
Is gone by Alcalar.

St. Michael’s on his mountain in the sea-roads of the north
(Don John of Austria is girt and going forth.)
Where the grey seas glitter and the sharp tides shift
And the sea folk labour and the red sails lift.
He shakes his lance of iron and he claps his wings of stone;
The noise is gone through Normandy; the noise is gone alone;
The North is full of tangled things and texts and aching eyes
And dead is all the innocence of anger and surprise,
And Christian killeth Christian in a narrow dusty room,
And Christian dreadeth Christ that hath a newer face of doom,
And Christian hateth Mary that God kissed in Galilee,
But Don John of Austria is riding to the sea.
Don John calling through the blast and the eclipse
Crying with the trumpet, with the trumpet of his lips,
Trumpet that sayeth ha!
      Domino gloria!
Don John of Austria
Is shouting to the ships.

King Philip’s in his closet with the Fleece about his neck
(Don John of Austria is armed upon the deck.)
The walls are hung with velvet that, is black and soft as sin,
And little dwarfs creep out of it and little dwarfs creep in.
He holds a crystal phial that has colours like the moon,
He touches, and it tingles, and he trembles very soon,
And his face is as a fungus of a leprous white and grey
Like plants in the high houses that are shuttered from the day,
And death is in the phial, and the end of noble work,
But Don John of Austria has fired upon the Turk.
Don John’s hunting, and his hounds have bayed—
Booms away past Italy the rumour of his raid
Gun upon gun, ha! ha!
Gun upon gun, hurrah!
Don John of Austria
Has loosed the cannonade.

The Pope was in his chapel before day or battle broke,
(Don John of Austria is hidden in the smoke.)
The hidden room in man’s house where God sits all the year,
The secret window whence the world looks small and very dear.
He sees as in a mirror on the monstrous twilight sea
The crescent of his cruel ships whose name is mystery;
They fling great shadows foe-wards, making Cross and Castle dark,
They veil the plumèd lions on the galleys of St. Mark;
And above the ships are palaces of brown, black-bearded chiefs,
And below the ships are prisons, where with multitudinous griefs,
Christian captives sick and sunless, all a labouring race repines
Like a race in sunken cities, like a nation in the mines.
They are lost like slaves that swat, and in the skies of morning hung
The stair-ways of the tallest gods when tyranny was young.
They are countless, voiceless, hopeless as those fallen or fleeing on
Before the high Kings’ horses in the granite of Babylon.
And many a one grows witless in his quiet room in hell
Where a yellow face looks inward through the lattice of his cell,
And he finds his God forgotten, and he seeks no more a sign—
(But Don John of Austria has burst the battle-line!)
Don John pounding from the slaughter-painted poop,
Purpling all the ocean like a bloody pirate’s sloop,
Scarlet running over on the silvers and the golds,
Breaking of the hatches up and bursting of the holds,
Thronging of the thousands up that labour under sea
White for bliss and blind for sun and stunned for liberty.
Vivat Hispania!
Domino Gloria!
Don John of Austria
Has set his people free!

Cervantes on his galley sets the sword back in the sheath
(Don John of Austria rides homeward with a wreath.)
And he sees across a weary land a straggling road in Spain,
Up which a lean and foolish knight forever rides in vain,
And he smiles, but not as Sultans smile, and settles back the blade....
(But Don John of Austria rides home from the Crusade.)

G.K. Chesterton


  1. We're having pork and red wine for dinner tonight. Breakfast was croissants.

    God bless!

  2. Not halal pork, I trust. God bless Chris.

  3. Our lady saved Europe at Lepanto, with Don John, in 1571, just as I'm sure she did with Charles Martel at Tours in 732, and with de la Valette at Malta in1565, and with Sobieski at Vienna in 1683.

    Shortly she will be called upon to save us again. But who will be our champion be this time? So far I see no candidates?

  4. Birmingham Oratory this morning replaced the Mass of the XX Sunday after Pentecost with that of Our Lady of the Rosary. Solemn EF of course. Missa Papae Marcelli. Sermon started with Lepanto, went on to the present-day threat from Islam, and even (shock, horror) suggested it was all right to pray the Rosary during Mass.

    I first came across Chesterton's poem aged 16. It was on the O-Level Eng. Lit. syllabus. I remember having to explain the historical references to the English master, who was somewhat baffled by them.

    1. Yeah
      Them as can, do.
      Them as can't, teach.
      Them as can't teach teachers join educational admin and rise high.

  5. If anyone is interested , Roman Christendom had a nice long post a while back,
    to whose combox I contributed less than intelligibly , the whole topic of Divine providence discernably working in and through and despite human weaknesses, sins, and foibles , with miracles where necessary , is fascinating , chewy, unmodern , (and
    undoubtedly politically incorrect, fattening,and similar).

    1. for some reason this link doesn't work unless you enter search Lepanto on "Tribunus" homepage.

  6. In his famous vision of the future victory of the Church over her enemies, St. John Bosco saw the Pope tie the church to two columns. One had our Lady on top with the word “Lepanto” written underneath. The other had the Eucharist oh top. When the Pope accomplished this, the enemy boats in the vision were sunk both due to a storm and the ongoing battle. There are those who believe that Pope John Paul II was the pope of this vision. Although he was “killed,” afterwards, by the intercession of Our Lady of FATIMA (n.b. reference to the name of Mohammad’s daughter), the Pope is “resurrected” to take up his job anew. If Pope John Paul was in fact the pope of the dream, the tying of the Church would have been the year dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary and the other year dedicated to the Eucharist. Without a doubt, since then the Muslim “fleet” has descended into chaos and confusion (e.g. the Arab spring and the Shiite-Sunni conflict).

  7. I read this poem every year to commemorate the victory.
    May I direct you to comments of my pastor, Fr. George Rutler, in the parish bulletin this week. An excerpt:
    The Pope attributed the victory of the sea battle at
    Lepanto to the prayers of the Rosary. Had events gone otherwise, our world would be bereft of respect for human life, universities,
    plastic and musical arts, the sacredness of marriage, the equality of women, and the use of reason.

  8. Thanks Teaglach, yes, I know of Fr Rutler from EWTN.

  9. Informasi yang sangat menarik gan makasihyah udah di share salam kenal adja dech ^___^