Help of Christians

May 24: Our Lady, Help of Christians, Europe (16th Century)

The power of the Turks in the second half of the sixteenth century had become so great that the peace of all Europe was threatened. Saint Pope Pius V, reigning Pontiff at the time, was famous for his Christian fortitude as well as his holy life. He caused the combined forces of Christendom to turn against the enemy in what was then called the Holy League, and then asked all of Christendom to pray the Rosary for their success. The Christians were inferior in numbers to the vast army and navy of the Turks, but the former bravely advanced under Don Juan of Austria while placing their trust in the help of the Blessed Virgin.

The enemy was routed at Lepanto after five hours of struggle while the Holy Father knelt praying before a picture of Our Blessed Lady. Suddenly the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared in a vision and told the pope that in that very hour the enemy had been defeated. The Ottoman Turks had not been defeated in a major naval engagement during the memory of any living man, and the loss is thought to have been as decisive to world history as was the Roman Battle of Actium fought in 31 BC. Saint Pope Pius V then ordained that the invocation “Help of Christians” be added to the Litany of Loreto.

Some years later the French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte took the Papal States and had Pope Pius VII confined to prison, to the great sorrow of the entire Church. The pope remained captive for five years beginning in 1808 when Our Lady once more came to the aid of her faithful children; the Emperor was forced to abdicate and was himself exiled to the island of Elba. The Holy Father returned to Rome in a triumphal procession in which many images of the Blessed Virgin were crowned along the way to the Vatican.

Pope Pius VII in thanksgiving for his deliverance, crowned with his own hands the picture of Our Lady venerated at Savona, where he was first imprisoned; and ordained that the twenty-fourth of May should be kept as a special feast in Mary’s honor, under the title of “Help of Christians.”

*from The Woman in Orbit and other sources

Return to Marian Calendar May

Return to Titles of Mary

Return to Roman Catholic Saints Home Page from Help of Christians

  Now Available!

Catholic Vitality Publications presents . . .

Defenders of Christendom

Brand new by

James Fitzhenry

Now in paperback!

Battles - Honor - Miracles! This book is filled with amazing stories of little-known Catholic heroes presenting spectacles of bravery and valor never exceeded in all the annals of history. read more. . .

Also available:

Catholic Vitality Publications

Roman Catholic books currently published by Catholic Vitality Publications:

El Cid, God's Own Champion

-the amazing true story of the life of Rodrigo Diaz, El Cid!

Buy 2 and Save!

St. Fernando III

A Kingdom for Christ

- King St. Fernando III, born 100
years to the month after the death of
the Cid. His life was filled with miracles
and many conquests!

Buy Any Two and Save!
Request author signed copies:

Discounts available for bulk
orders and for bookstore
retail sales! Just contact us