the feast of the Holy Name of Mary, after singing the Polish hymn,
“Bogurodzica” (Mother of God).
It was 1683. The Ottoman Turks already had
occupied Hungary, the eastern neighbor of Austria,
since 1541, and aimed to expand further. They had
even dreamed of turning the Basilica of St. Peter in
Rome into a mosque. Pope Innocent XI had
brokered an alliance between the Holy Roman
Empire and the Kingdom of Poland. A force of
300,000 troops of the Ottoman Empire of Turkey
advanced to the gates of Vienna, thus threatening all
of Western Europe. If he could take Vienna, it would
be an easy road to the English Channel and Western
Europe might be Muslim today. They were building
tunnels under the walls. The Sultan sent a message
to the King of Austria, telling him to stay in his
palace so that he could take his head.
Pope Innocent XI ordered that rosaries be
recited in the religious houses and churches of
Rome. The same prayers of supplication were
offered throughout the Holy Roman Empire. The
situation was so dangerous that the imperial court
left Vienna for Passau and took refuge there. There
were special devotions at the Capuchin Church in
Vienna to Our Lady Help of Christians, whose
famous picture hangs there. It would later become
the symbol of the victory over the Turks by Poland’s
King Jan Sobieski.
Poland had a major role in decisively saving Western Civilization from militant Islam. Many Poles see a parallel between Poland and ancient Israel in the Old Testament. When close to God, they prospered.
A portrait of King Sobieski of Poland with his gorget of Our Lady of Częstochowa.
In desperation during this dark time Pope Innocent XI and his allies asked King Jan Sobieski to be the Commander-in-Chief of a coalition of European armies because he had already stopped Turkish intrusions into Poland. He had a crack cavalry, the best in Europe consisting of the famous Polish lancer Hussar warriors. On the way to Vienna, his army made a detour and stopped at Poland's national Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa to pray before going into battle and leaving on August 15, the feast of the Assumption.
Kara Mustafa Pasha, Turkish Commander Turks during the Siege of Vienna
King Sobieski arrived at Vienna on the evening of September 11. The next morning he ordered his men to attend Mass and observed the infantry battle from high ground until late in the afternoon. Sobieski had four cavalry groups (three Polish and one Austrian-German), a total of 20,000 men. They waited all day for the order to charge. After 12 hours of fighting, the Turkish troops below were exhausted. Finally the order came. Sobieski’s cavalry, 20,000 strong swooped down from the hills upon the invaders and their camp. The Polish king led the charge, spearheaded by 3000 heavily armed Polish-Lithuanian Lancer Hussars behind him.
Before going into the charge, the Husars sung the Polish hymn, “Bogurodzica” (Mother of God), the national anthem at the time. The elite heavy lancers were developed from an earlier Hungarian prototype. The Hussars were wearing a sort of wings made from eagle feathers that made an eerie sound in the wind during the surprise attack under the banner of Mary on the feast of the Holy Name of Mary, September 12, 1683.
In the painting on the right the Cavalry of King Jan Sobieski of Poland overruns the Turkish camp. The king credited answered prayer: “I came; I saw; and God won”.
This charge broke the lines of the Ottomans, who were tired from the long fight on two sides. In the confusion, the cavalry headed straight for the Ottoman camps, while the remaining Vienna garrison sallied out of its defenses and joined in the assault. This caused the horde of Turkish troops to flee in panic, leaving behind their supplies. In less than three hours after the cavalry attack, the Christian forces had won the battle and saved Vienna from capture. Acknowledging the power of prayer, King Sobieski commented: “I came; I saw; and God won.
King Jan Sobieski proclaiming victory.
The Turks did not simply withdraw from the walls of Vienna; they fled. Such was the Turkish flight, they left behind virtually all their stores and baggage. This is when the Viennese, Europe’s most famous coffee-drinkers today, discovered the beverage. The Turks left quantities of it in their stores when they fled. The defeat was thorough and humiliating. The Turks left quantities of it in their stores when they fled. See http://catholicism.org/ad-rem-no-45.html and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Vienna. Some great videos and an exciting movie are: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pc-RWtovrqg – a 49 minute documentary and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jvoRuO3g9Ew, a full length movie. The same is dubbed in Polish at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OCr1TmqxO5Q.
The Battle of Vienna is just another chapter in a 1300 year war between radical Islam and western civilization that continues today. The great victory gave the world a respite……the beginning of a decline of militant Islam until the 21st Century. Now you know why Osama bin Laden chose 9/11 for his attack on America…….revenge for a humiliating defeat. Islamic terrorists often use some significant date or anniversary for a strike. That began the 21st Century War on Terror which really isn’t anything new, just another chapter in the centuries old war. American troops had to fight the Taliban in Afghanistan and ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Osama bin Laden and later, the so called Islamic State had dreams of reviving the glory days of the old Caliphate and turn the Basilica of St. Peter into a mosque. Al Qaida and ISIS, defeated for now, are reduced to sporadic acts of terror, while plotting to regroup and mobilize resources so as to again be a world threat. Iran continues to be a world threat. Vigilance will always be required.
In gratitude for the victory at the Battle of Vienna Pope Innocent XI extended the Feast of the Holy Name of Mary on September 12 to the Universal Church. MOTHER MARY, WE ASK YOU TO INTERCEDE FOR PEACE in our world as radical Islam continues to threaten us. BRING US BACK TO YOUR SON and NURTURE OUR FAITH. Mary has come to the aid of her children many times. See the book “Saint Mary of Victory – The Historical Role of Our Lady in the Armed Defense of the Faith” by Gary Potter.
Christianity and Islam both revere Mary as the ideal woman. The Quran (http://www.clearquran.com/quran-chapter-019.html) devotes an entire chapter to her (Chap 19). There is a reason that Mary chose the village of Fatima, which the Moors named after Fatimah, the favorite daughter of Mohammed. May Mary use these commonalities and connections to evangelize the Muslims, our brothers, and bring us world peace. May all Islam some day honor the holy name of Mary as the Mother of God, Jesus Christ, the 2nd person of the Holy Trinity. Then we will be united as one.
Details of the Battle of Vienna
In 1683, the forces of the Holy League, under Poland’s King Jan Sobieski, roundly defeated the Mohammedan invaders at the Battle of Vienna. Here is a brief telling of that triumphant occasion by Gary Potter (in “Saint Mary of Victory – The Historical Role of Our Lady in the Armed Defense of the Faith ”):
Fortuitously, the pope of the day, Innocent XI, had just brokered an alliance between the Holy Roman Empire and the Kingdom of Poland, which was also menaced by the Mohammedans. When it became known that no fewer than 300,000 Turks were advancing on the imperial capital, Pope Innocent ordered that rosaries be recited in the religious houses and churches of Rome. The same prayers of supplication were offered throughout the Empire. Still, the situation was so dangerous that the imperial court left Vienna for Passau and took refuge there. Meantime, there were special devotions at the Capuchin Church in Vienna to Our Lady Help of Christians, whose famous picture hangs there. It would become the symbol of the victory over the Turks by Poland’s King John Sobieski when he arrived on the scene after a series of forced marches from Czestochowa.
The Polish army hit the numerically superior Turkish force with their surprise attack so hard, the Turks panicked. They did not simply withdraw from the walls of Vienna, they fled. (It is an aside, but of some cultural significance, that such was the Turkish flight, they left behind virtually all their stores and baggage. This is when the Viennese, Europe’s most famous coffee-drinkers, discovered the stuff. The Turks left quantities of it in their stores when they ran.) More to the point, in thanksgiving for the help given by the Mother of God for the victory at Vienna, which was won on her feast day, the 30th day after the Assumption, Pope Innocent extended the feast in honor of the Holy Name of Mary to the Universal Church.
What isn’t mentioned here is that Sobieski began the forced marches to Vienna from the shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa, where he mounted his charger on the Feast of the Assumption, August 15, 1683, to arrive in Vienna almost a month later.
There were three occasions in the defense of Christendom against Islam in which Europe was saved by a John: John Hunyadi, the Hungarian King, and hero of the Battle of Belgrade, Don Juan of Austria, who led the Christian navies at the Battle of Lepanto, and Jan Sobieski, King of Poland. On each of these instances, the Christian people sang with gratitude, “There was a man sent from God whose name was John,” applying to the hero the description of the Baptist from the prologue of St. John’s Gospel.
To continue the Catholic triumphalism a bit more, we will cite the Wikipedia article on the battle itself:
After 12 hours of fighting, Sobieski’s Polish force held the high ground on the right. At about five o’clock in the afternoon, after watching the ongoing infantry battle from the hills for the whole day, four cavalry groups, one of them Austrian-German, and the other three Polish, totaling 20,000 men, charged down the hills. The attack was led by the Polish king in front of a spearhead of 3000 heavily armed winged Polish lancer hussars. This charge broke the lines of the Ottomans, who were tired from the long fight on two sides. In the confusion, the cavalry headed straight for the Ottoman camps, while the remaining Vienna garrison sallied out of its defenses and joined in the assault.
The Ottoman army were tired and dispirited following the failure of both the sapping attempt and the brute force assault of the city, and the arrival of the cavalry turned the tide of battle against them, sending them into retreat to the south and east. In less than three hours after the cavalry attack, the Christian forces had won the battle and saved Vienna from capture.
After the battle, Sobieski paraphrased Julius Caesar‘s famous quote by saying “veni, vidi, Deus vincit” – “I came, I saw, God conquered”.
Sobieski’s heavy artillery in this battle was, as the article said, the “winged Polish lancer hussars.” These elite troops were Polish-Lithuanian heavy lancers developed from an earlier Hungarian prototype. They were “winged” because they wore eagle feathers, a detail variously explained in different histories.
When the husaria (as they are known in Polish) went into battle, they customarily sang a Polish hymn, the most ancient national anthem in the world, the Bogurodzica (Mother of God). A painting, by Józef Brandt, of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth forces singing the Bogurodzica before battle can be seen here. Oddly enough, the words of this chant do not mention the nation of Poland. It is a hymn to Our Lady and invokes also the intercession of St. John the Baptist. (To hear it on RealAudio, go here.)
What a tribute to Catholic Poland: their national anthem was a hymn to the Mother of God! May she continue to bless her Poland, and all the lands of former Christendom — and may she make them Christendom again.