As mentioned yesterday, it was either September 11th or 12th that commemorates the Battle of Vienna, the great victory in 1683 of the Christians armies, led by Polish general Jan Sobieski, against the Ottoman Turks, determined to conquer the Austrian city, the gateway to the rest of Europe. Against overwhelming odds (more than 2 to 1), the vastly outnumbered Polish, along with forces from Saxony, Franconia, Swabia, Baden and Bavaria, crushed the Muslims under Kara Mustapha Pasha, sending them fleeing for their lives, breaking the power of the Ottoman empire for good, an empire which had ravaged Christianity and her civilization for centuries.
Sobieski paraphrased Caesar after what he saw as a miraculous victory: Veni, vidi, Christus vincit. I came, I saw, and Christ conquered. Christ indeed won the day, saving Europe, the Faith and western civilization, at least until recently. There is a legend that the croissant, based the Islamic ‘crescent’, was invented at Viennese bakeries soon afterward, as a victorious symbol of their deliverance.
The religious significance was not lost on the losers: As we wrote yesterday, the attacks on America on 9/11 were, in large part, a centuries-delayed Islamic revenge against the ‘Crusaders’. Kara Mustapha met his own demise more quickly, strangled to death by his own Janissaries -kidnapped Christian children raised to be fervent Muslim soldiers – for his ignominious defeat.
The terrorists hardly need bother any longer with such dramatic and murderous mayhem. Europe’s refusal to have children, its population stabilized only due to immigration, now more or less ensures its own eventual suicide as a Christian continent, leaving the once-great entity open to an invasion, if one wants to use that term, not of a military sort, but cultural and demographic. Peruse even a synopsis of the 1975 dystopic novel Camp of the Saints for what the near future may hold. There are hundreds of millions in Africa, many of the faith of the alleged ‘Prophet’, waiting just across the Mediterranean, and Europe -as we know it – is ageing and dying more quickly than most might think. And Africa is young and burgeoning.
Jan Sobieski may well have declared Maria vincit, for today is also the memorial of the Holy Name of Mary, whose very name has been made sacred by the holiness of the Theotokos, the Mother of God, full of grace. It just after the victory at Vienna, in 1684, that Pope Innocent XI – a great and holy reforming Pontiff who resisted the Gallican ambitions of Louis XIV (who did not send any help to Vienna), who cleaned up the Vatican, and who condemned abortion, declaring the fetus to have a soul – yes, this same great Pope instituted this feast in thanksgiving to the Blessed Mother for stopping the Turks and savine Europe.
In the rather heady days post Vatican II, with its own alleged ‘spirit’ (the text, of course, largely ignored or misinterpreted), and the consequent downplaying of ‘Marian feasts’, this memorial was removed in the revision of the liturgical calendar, perhaps in some misguided sense of ecumenical outreach.
Gladly, however, placed back in by Pope Saint John Paul II in 2002, around the same time he promulgated his encyclical on the Rosary. And the Holy Father knew more than most what was, and is still is, at stake. So thank you for that, Holy Father.
The name of Mary is powerful indeed, for, as the wedding at Cana signifies, Christ cannot refuse a request from his mother. So ask away, whatever you will. May the Virgin Mary intercede for us all, when we need her help in our own turbulent times. As she said to Juan Diego a century-and-a-half before Vienna, ‘Am I not your Mother?’. So fear not, and have hope. The victory is Christ’s.