There is a saying amongst the Afghanis that ‘Americans have all the watches, but we have all the time‘. Yes, like the big, giant elephant in the room that it is, Islam has a long historical memory, still calling Westerners ‘Crusaders’, their throats bitter at those attempts to reclaim the Holy Land, which Mohammad and his bloodthirsty warriors had captured, enslaving the Christian population. After dominating the ‘crescent’ across Africa and the Middle East, Islam turned its eyes towards Europe, but for centuries, the Christian continent had eluded its grasp.
The Muslims were successful in taking Spain, via the strait of Gibraltar, in 711, and they held the Iberian peninsula, until its reclamation, after many battles and much bloodshed, under Ferdinand and Isabella in 1492.
The invading Muslims tried to take France, but were stopped at the Battle of Tours in 732, what they thought was their invincible army was stopped by Charles Martel – the ‘hammer’ – and his stalward, iron-clad Frankish Gauls.
A stalemate held, of sorts, for centuries, until the Ottoman Turks, in 1683, made siege on on Vienna, the gateway to Europe, with a force that counted up to 300,000 men. On September 11-12th, a much smaller Polish army, led by their indomitable general Jan Sobieski, along with forces from Saxony, Franconia, Swabia, Baden and Bavaria, swept down on the encamped soldiers of the ‘Prophet – Jan had put artificial ‘wings’ on his horses which made a dreadful noise, putting the enemy into panic – and they 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 on the Islamic symbolic ‘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 in 2001, with the four airliners crashed into the Two Towers, the Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania, killing thousands – nineteen years ago now, which is hard to believe – were, in large part, a centuries-delayed Islamic revenge against the ‘Crusaders’. Islam is a great believer in such payback, often more swift: Kara Mustapha, their own failed general, met his own demise more quickly, soon after their ignominious defeat, strangled to death by his elite Janissaries – kidnapped Christian children raised to be the most fervent of Muslim soldiers.
The great Hilaire Belloc saw it all more clearly at the beginning of this century, when most thought of Islam – when it was thought of at all – as a backwater, desert religion of a rather primitive people. But they were waiting, and then they discovered the wealth of oil…
Yet the war hawks in Islam – especially all those excitable lads ready to blow themselves and anyone else who happens to be around to smithereens to attain their heavenly harem – hardly need bother any longer with such dramatic and murderous terrorist mayhem. Europe’s refusal to have children, its demographic implosion so far staved off due to mostly-Islamic 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, with hundreds of millions in Africa, many of the faith of the alleged ‘Prophet’, waiting just across the Mediterranean. 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 in commemoration of the victory, September 12th, the day victory was assured, was made 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. The year after the victory at Vienna, in 1684, 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), cleaning up the corruption in the Vatican (still ongoing!), 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 saving 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, the memorial of Mary’s Holy Name was placed back into the calendar 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, for the victory is Christ’s, in His own good time.