According to Correspondance Européenne the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary present at the battle of Lepanto has been found.
“The statue of the Blessed Virgin that was on board the royal Galley commanded by Don Juan of Austria, King Philip II of Spain’s half-brother, during the battle of Lepanto, has been found. While Pope Pius V was back in Rome praying for the victory of the Christians, the fleet’s flagship took on the Turkish galley of the commander of the Ottoman forces, Ali Pacha, who was decapitated shortly afterwards. The victory of the Holy League stopped the progress of the Muslim assaults in Europe, without putting an end to the coastal attacks and the capture of slaves.
“This victory won on October 7, 1571, is celebrated every year on the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. The Virgin of the Rosary had been offered to Don Juan of Austria by the Venetians. The statue of the Mother of God was brought back to Spain after this great military feat over which she had presided, and Don Juan of Austria bequeathed it at his death in 1578, to the Confraternity of the Galleys in the Church of St. John Lateran at the Port de Santa María in Cadix. In 1854, the statue was transferred to the Academy of the Marine Guards’ Midshipmen’s College in San Fernando, the ancestor of the Spanish Naval School. It was then passed from hand to hand and its traces were lost. It has recently been returned to the Naval Museum of Madrid where it will be restored, then exposed to the public. Although the statue has lost one eye, it has preserved all its supernatural presence.” (source: CE – DICI#251, March 9, 2012)
I have to say that I think the statue looks pretty awful. Mary appears to have a very bad case of leprosy...or something! But despite the horror movie appearance, I am still intrigued that a specific statute from a specific battle could be found and identified after so many years.
The truth is: I like statues. I only own one---The Infant of Prague--but I love looking at statues in churches.
I think it began when I was a little girl during Mass at St. Francis Xavier church in Missoula, Montana. The crucifix there was a life sized, realistic representation and I would look up into the face and pray that maybe, just once, it would show some sign of life. I didn't realize that I was asking for a miracle, which is probably just as well. I'm not sure that I could have actually handled seeing a statue come to life. I'd probably have been terrified.
I hadn't thought about that prayer for many years, until this Passion Week, as I stared again into the face of life sized crucifix, albeit a very modern, not very realistic one. Nevertheless, as I looked into the face, I found myself praying once again for some sign of life. Not in the statue, but in me. In my own life. In the years the locust has eaten. In hope for the future.
Once again I was asking for a miracle, but this time I knew what I was praying for.
And this time, I'm more afraid that the prayer won't be answered than I am that it will be.
Perhaps it's time to say a rosary to Our Lady of Lepanto.