In honor of the victory obtained through the intercession of Our Lady by the praying of the rosary over the Muslim forces that threatened to overwhelm Christian Europe at the Battle of Lepanto in 1571, Holy Mother Church celebrates today the memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary.
In our day, another (largely Sunni) Muslim force - the Islamic State and the many "groups" with allegiance to it, like Boko Haram and al-Shabab - is advancing not simply against Christians, but against other religious minorities, like the Yazidis and even against Shia Muslims who disagree with the severity of the Islamic State. Like the advance of the Muslim armies at Lepanto, the armies of the Islamic State must be checked and stopped or else countless innocents will continue to be forced from the homes and even be killed in horrifying ways.
It was only a few months ago that the Most Reverend Oliver Dashe Doeme, Archbishop of Maiduguri (Nigeria) called upon the faithful to seek the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary for the defeat of Boko Haram - which has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State - by taking up and praying the rosary:
“Towards the end of last year I was in my chapel before the Blessed Sacrament… praying the rosary, and then suddenly the Lord appeared,” Bishop Dashe told CNA April 18.
In the vision, the prelate said, Jesus didn’t say anything at first, but extended a sword toward him, and he in turn reached out for it.
“As soon as I received the sword, it turned into a rosary,” the bishop said, adding that Jesus then told him three times: “Boko Haram is gone.”
“I didn’t need any prophet to give me the explanation,” he said. “It was clear that with the rosary we would be able to expel Boko Haram.”
If Archbishop Doeme's vision is correct and Boko Haram will be defeated by the rosary, why should the Islamic State also not be defeated by the rosary? It was effective at Lepanto and the rosary can certainly equally effective today wherever the Islamic State is present. It was not for nothing that Saint Pio of Pietrelcina called the rosary "the weapon for our times" and that Blessed Pope Pius IX said, "Give me an army praying the rosary and I will conquer the world."
One year ago yesterday, Aid to the Church in Need, a charitable foundation for persecuted Christians under the direction of the Holy Father, composed a Rosary for Persecuted Christians with meditations stemming from the Sorrowful Mysteries.
Please, take up your rosary today, together with the meditations from Aid to the Church in Need, and call upon the intercession of Our Lady of the Rosary for those who suffer so greatly under the Islamic State. Pray, too, for the conversion of those who fight for and support the Islamic State. Let us pray that through the rosary the Islamic State and its allies will be defeated.