Lepanto – The Crescent vs The Cross

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The Catholic Church has always been the greatest force against Islam. When the Arab invasions of the 630’s came, the world looked very different. The Latin and Greek Church was one Church and the others who called themselves Christian were the Monophysites(known as the Oriental Orthodox today) which included Coptics, Ethiopians, and Armenians. There was also the Assyrian Church who only accepted the first two ecumenical councils. They were further East and at the time played a large role in Central Asia. There were a few heretical groups as well but that was essentially all there was. Protestantism was still 900 years off in the distance.

In the ancient Church, five cities were extremely important to Christendom. These cities were Rome, Antioch, Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Constantinople. Within a few years of the Arab conquests, three of these five cities were captured by the Muslim Arabs. Only Rome and Constantinople remained. The Arabs came close but never did capture these last two cities of Christendom. Eventually the Arabs lost steam and ceased to be the powerhouse of the Islamic world. Almost as that happened, the Turks were there to pick up from where they left off.

In 1071 the Turks won a major battle against the Byzantine Empire at Manzikert which is in Eastern Turkey today. From this point on, the Byzantine Empire ceased to be a force in the world, although they continued to exist for several centuries.

In 1095, Pope Urban II launched the First Crusade to assist the Byzantine Empire and the Greek Church. At this point in time, the Latin and Greek Churches had a rocky relationship resulting from the recent feud between Patriarch Cerularius of Constantinople and Cardinal Humbert of Silva Candida who represented Pope Leo IX. This occurred in 1054, only 41 years before Pope Urban II came to their assistance against the Turks.

Unfortunately due to the sack of Constantinople in 1204, the Greek Church and the Latin Church separated. Although reunion councils were held in Lyons in 1274 and Florence in 1445, they ultimately failed and the two Churches are separated to this day.

In 1453 the Turks captured Constantinople and still hold it to this day. The Hagia Sophia, the Chora Church, and most of the great churches of the city were converted into mosques, although many of them are museums today since the freemasons converted them when they took over from the Muslims.

After 1453, Mehmet II who captured Constantinople wanted to finish off Christendom by taking its capital and last remaining stronghold – Rome. Led by the brilliant Skanderbeg, the Albanian Catholics held off Mehmet II for over two decades, stalling his plan to invade Italy and ultimately capture Rome. In 1478 he finally conquered Albania but was old and frail. Crossing into Italy, they terrorized the Italians for several years. Mehmet II would soon die of his old age and his army, not sharing his glowing ambitions would leave Italian lands.

Even though the invasion was a failure, Christendom was on the ropes. They seemed to have no success until 1571. In that year a new Holy League was formed and a large navy was built.

On October 7, 1571 this navy of the Holy League would engage the Ottoman navy and deal a devastating blow. The victory was complete and this episode in history is known as The Battle of Lepanto. Since European Christians were praying the rosary, Pope Pius V created a new holiday for the Church to celebrate called the feast of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary. A feast to celebrate the turning point in Christendom’s battle against the Turks and to commemorate the spiritual weapon that is still used by the People of God to this day.

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