Last Sunday, we remembered the tragedy that was 9-11, the anniversary of the plane terrorist attacks on the United States. While that day remains infamous, the next day is not as well known; September 12, the Feast of the Holy Name of Mary. I, among others, suspect that the two days, the 9-11 of 2001 and the 9-12 of Mary are intricately connected. For the feast was created after a heroic victory over Islamic forces invading Europe in 1683 on that famous date of 9-11 going into 9-12. Hence the feast day of victory for Mary, and also hence the carefully picked day for Islamic extremists to exact terror on the Christian world in 2001.
In 1683, Europe was very different than it is today. The Muslim world was encroaching upon the Christian but very divided Europe. Ottoman forces had reached as far as Vienna, a city that would prove to be a turning point for an advance against Europe; it was strategic for its access to numerous trade routes and the Danube to the Black Sea, not to mention its position on the doorsteps to the Holy Roman Empire. Some 150,000 Ottomans began the two-month siege on the city, and in that dark hour, a summons came for Europe to rally in response, but not many would suspect Poland to be the hero. King Sobieski rallied his soldiers and thousands of his “Winged Hussar” heavy cavalry who were said to have resembled angels in battle with their wings. They set out in August, leaving Poland practically defenseless. When they reached Vienna, Sobieski himself led the largest cavalry charge in recorded history, some 18,000 horsemen with tens of thousands of soldiers against the massive 150,000 soldier army of the Ottomans. The horsemen descended hills upon their foes with their massive wings, and some say that their wings “whistled” in the wind as they approached their foes.
The victory of 9-12 proved to be the turning point of the conflict between Europe and the Ottoman Empire, and it was so much a victory for Europe that Sobieski was declared by the Pope to be the defender of Christendom. Sobieski humbly attributed his victory to the Holy Mass and to Mary, to whom he pleaded for victory before the battle; Pope Innocent XI consequently declared September 12 to forever honor the Most Holy Name of Mary, which saved Europe. I pray that our current battles with secularism and atheism today will have a similar outcome; may Mary intercede for us to bring in the heroic forces that will conquer that which threatens Christianity.