VE Day ... VJ Day ... we've had so many Victories to commemorate this year! And ... On this annual commemoration of the Battle of Lepanto, surely we are right to open a bottles to Victory of Mary Day.
It is even more topical this year, when everybody is so enormously excited and politically correct about Slavery. G K Chesterton reminded us of all the Christian Galley Slaves whose freedom followed the smashing of the Turkish Battle Fleet.
Writing a poem about a Spanish sea victory is not really the sort of thing that proper Englishmen do; we were brought up on stories about the defeat of the Armada. And that 'English Victory' was woven seamlessly into a consistent narrative of our Island Race protected by our Silver Sea against Philip of Spain and Buonaparte and Hitler, who were all foreigners. But ... surely ... we Catholics are counter-cultural; in other words, when British politicians preach fatuous sermons about British Values, it serves simply to remind us that the British Values they prose on about are imposters dancing on the graves of the English Catholic martyrs; cavorting and absurd Whig clowns hypocritical in their Phrygian caps.
Perhaps we need a gallant band of Christian youth to go on a cutting-out expedition ... today!! ... and recover the Ottoman flags captured at Lepanto, which poor Montini alienated. What a wonderful piece of news that would be in tomorrow's headlines!
Chesterton reminds his readers that the Turkish galleys at Lepanto had Christian slaves labouring deep within them, each witless in his quiet room in hell / Where a yellow face looks inward through the lattice of his cell, / And he finds his God forgotten, and he seeks no more a sign. But as we take up the joyful story ...
... Don John of Austria has burst the battle line!
Don John pounding from the slaughter-painted poop,
Purpling all the ocean like a bloody pirate's sloop,
Scarlet running over on the silvers and the golds,
Breaking of the hatches up and bursting of the holds,
Thronging of the thousands up that labour under sea
White for the bliss and blind for sun and stunned for liberty.
Don John of Austria
Has set his people free!