Update: the Bear accidentally put down the date of another important event in October, his anniversary! The Battle of Lepanto was October 7, not 1st.
St. Pius V is beloved by bears because "he forbade the public exhibition of the sights of wild beasts, as savoring too much of inhumanity."
He lavished loving care on the poor and the sick, even to kissing the ulcers on their feet. This sight caused one English Protestant to convert on the spot. (Pope Francis is not the first pope to do things like this and were he to act within the rubrics for Holy Thursday, it would be a good witness instead of a scandal.)
Pope Pius was not naive, though. He knew the Christian West had powerful enemies. He resolved to fight the world, the flesh and the devil. The last came in the person of Suleiman, the self-styled King of Kings, the emperor of the aggressive Islamic East.
Islam had conquered the historic Christian heartland in blood and ruin. Not just Jerusalem, the very locus of our salvation, but Asia Minor (present day Turkey), where young Timothy led the second generation of Christians at Ephesus, and from where, according to tradition, the Virgin Mary was assumed into Heaven. Islam was ever the wolf, whose appetite had once led it to the very suburbs of Paris.
Always, however, there arose a hero of the West, a champion to fight the wolf.
In 1571, Pope Pius saw the Christian West once again threatened by a resurgent Islam. The West had been divided by the Protestant Rebellion this time, however. The illegitimate Don John of Austria, made immortal by Chesterton's poem, Lepanto, answered the Church's call, as a fleet was cobbled together to meet the enemy. The Christians would be outnumbered. Once again, the Church must look for a miracle
St. Pope Pius V had one: a humble string of beads. He called upon Catholics to pray the rosary for victory. This is what happened the moment the outnumbered Catholic fleet defeated the Islamic East in the battle of Lepanto.
The holy pope, from the beginning of the expedition, had ordered public prayers and fasts, and had not ceased to solicit heaven, with uplifted hands, like Moses on the mountain, besides afflicting his body by watching and fasting. At the hour of the battle, the procession of the Rosary, in the church at the Minerva, was pouring forth solemn prayers for the victory. The pope was then conversing with some cardinals on business: but, on a sudden, left them abruptly, opened the window, stood some time with his eyes fixed on the heavens, and then shutting the casement, said: “It is not now a time to talk any more upon business; but to give thanks to God for the victory he has granted to the arms of the Christians.” This fact was carefully attested, and authentically recorded both at that time, and again in the process for the saint’s canonization. In consequence of this miraculous victory, the pope ordered the festival of the Rosary to be kept on the first Sunday of October, in perpetual thanksgiving to God, and in the litany of our Lady inserted those words: succor of Christians.
Butler, A. (1903). The Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs and Other Principal Saints (Vol. 2, pp. 244–245). New York: P. J. Kenedy.
|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,||140|
|Up which a lean and foolish knight for ever 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.)|