Friday, September 12, 2014

The Holy Name of Mary and Vienna

Christopher Check writes about the defeat of the Turks who were besieging Vienna on September 12, 1683:

Before dawn, Sobieski assisted at Mass in the ruined Church of the Camaldolites, offered by Blessed Marco D’Viano. Gathering his force he commended their mission and their souls to the care of the Blessed Virgin.

The descent began.

As the sun rose on the morning of 12 September, the Ottomans saw, according their own account, “a flood of black pitch flowing down the hill, smothering and incinerating everything that lay in its way.”

Taking one ridge at a time, the Christians fought their way down the hill. Little could the commanders do but exhort their forces to press ahead in the confusion. The Saxons on the left of the Holy League line were the first to engage the forward deployed Ottomans, but by ten a.m. the whole Turkish army was arrayed for counterattack. For several hours the battle traded advantage, the Holy League ever closing on the city.

By late afternoon, Sobieski’s army had reached the plain, and he was now positioned to exploit his greatest asset, the famed Winged Hussars. Drawing up these courageous cavalrymen, their feathered plumes streaming off their backs, he led them himself, lances couched in a full-tilt charge at the center of the Ottoman line. Shouting “Jezus Maria ratuj!” they charged and reformed, charged and reformed, charged and reformed. The Polish horsemen followed their intrepid king deeper and deeper into the army of Islam, smashing what remained of their resistance, setting the followers of Muhammad to flight, relieving the siege, and carrying the day.

“We came, we saw, God conquered.” Sobieski wrote to Innocent XI.

Pope Blessed Innocent XI instituted the today's feast of the Holy Name of Mary to commemorate that victory. After the Second Vatican Council the feast was suppressed, but Pope St. John Paul II restored it to the universal Roman Calendar in 2002. Check wonders if the pope was inspired by the the 9-11, 2001 attacks in New York and Washington, DC (and Shanksville, PA before the plane reached its target).

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