7 October 2017

Our Lady of Victories

What a telling title: our Lady of Victories. So very Western Catholic; so Counter-Reformation ; so baroque; so redolent of the triumphalist Anglo-Catholicism of the 1920s and 1930s. When I was an undergraduate, the Church of S Paul up Walton Street was still a church and had a splendiferous statue of our Lady of Victories. You couldn't possibly imagine, could you, Byzantine Christians giving the Theotokos a title like that ...

Well, of course, they did. One of those Greeks did write a hymn to Mary as the hypermachos strategos with an aprosmakheton kratos (the Protecting General with an irresistible power). If the Orthodox had Hymns Ancient and Modern, you would probably find in it a paraphrase of the Hymnos Akathistos beginning: Stand up, stand up, for Mary. Or, taking my fantasy even further, imagine some Orthodox Sabine Baring Gould writing Onward Christian soldiers, marching as to war; with the Robe of Mary, going on before.

East and West may wear different clothes, but their realities are often so uncannily similar. Because, of course, the title our Lady of Victories, just like the Akathist hymn, does have its military associations. That great Pontiff, S Pius V, established the Feast of our Lady of Victories to celebrate the triumph of Christian arms at the battle of Lepanto, October 7, 1571, a victory won by the countless rosaries which clanked through the hands of the Rosary Confraternities of Western Europe. They begged God for the safety of Christendom against the invading Turk. Gregory XIII pusillanimously renamed the feast as 'of the Rosary', and popped it onto the first Sunday of October (a mere stone's throw from the Feast of the Protecting Robe of the Mother of God in some Byzantine calendars) where it stayed until the reforms of S Pius X.

But no homilist could be forbidden to preach tomorrow on our Lady of Victories, could he?

After all, her Immaculate Heart will prevail!


DrAndroSF said...

The Dominican pope Pius V (and a saint) worked with all his might to drive the Muslims out of Christendom. The Jesuit pope Francis works with all his might to invite them in to Europe. One, a reason to become Catholic. The other, a reason to shake the dust from your feet.

Woody said...

Dear Father, in line with my past understanding, Bishop Barron here describes October 7 as originally the feast of Our Lady of Victory (singular) for the Latin church. https://www.wordonfire.org/resources/blog/our-lady-of-the-rosary-and-the-battle-of-lepanto/1220/

Our Lady of Victories (plural) then refers to Notre Dame des Victoires in Paris, whose site is here:

One can read the historical description in English I believe. It was quite the spiritual powerhouse location in Paris, at least in the XIX century. Not only were Saint Therese and Saint Theophane Venard clients, but also it is said that prayers were offered there for Newman's conversion, and he visited it after his reception into the Church, to give thanks.

On the related historic side, we Byzantines on the Gregorian calendar just celebrated the feast of the Holy Protection of the Theotokos on October 1, recalling one of the many efficacious intercessions of the Mother of God to protect her City and her people, from foreign invaders.

All the best and keep up the good work.

Woody said...

As a final on NDV, the "victories" referred to were I think over the Huguenots in France, and the successful delivery of the heir to the throne. It was also there that the King consecrated France to Our Lady.

Woody said...

And begging pardon for one more post, the protection of Russia by the Mother of God is one of the most interesting historical features. In addition to the Vladimir icon's history, here is the Wiki description of the icon of Our Lady of Kazan, and some of its accounts. Pravoslavie.ru also has the account of a copy of the Kazanskaya icon given to a kindly German soldier by a babushka during the war, his survival thereof and the return of the icon to Russia.

Albrecht von Brandenburg said...

Wasn't OL of V a title from before the baroque period?

Banshee said...

Thanks for posting about "Ti Ypermacho Stratego"! There are apparently about a zillion different versions on YouTube, because it's both a famous hymn and a patriotic song in Greece. I read a blogpost that said people sang it in the streets at the beginning of WWII, for example.

And the tune is catchy in one of those ways that makes you sure you really need to learn it, and the words aren't all that long or complicated.

A new cool song that's really old! What could be better?

Nathaniel said...

Hear! Hear!

Don't forget the Panagia Eleftherotria (the Immaculate Liberator or, idiomatically, Our Lady of Deliverance).