On October 7 1571 a Christian navy routed the seemingly unstoppable forces of Islam in a massive battle in the Ionian Sea’s Bay of Patras, near Lepanto. The commander of the Catholic fleet, Juan of Austria, had a statue of Our Lady on the quarterdeck of his flagship and the sailors prayed the Most Holy Rosary.
Pope St Pius V commemorated the achievement by instituting the Feast of Our Lady of Victory, which in turn developed into the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. Hence, October is traditionally dedicated to our important devotion to the Rosary. During this month you might read GK Chesterton’s poem “Lepanto”.
There are other Marian feasts during the month, including the Maternity of Mary (11), Our Lady of Pilar (12), and Purity of the Blessed Virgin (16).
Great saints are honoured in this autumnal month. Following hard on the heels of a late September commemoration of the Archangel Michael (with Raphael and Gabriel in the post-Conciliar calendar), on the second day of October we honour our Holy Guardian Angels, without whom we would be very much more susceptible to the machinations of the demonic Enemy of the soul.
In the traditional calendar, St Raphael has his own feast on the 24th. The Evangelist St Luke is fêted on October 18, which this year falls on a Sunday. The Apostles Ss Simon and Jude receive praise on the 28th. And on October 3, the lovely young saintly Doctor Theresa of the Infant Jesus, the Little Flower, is celebrated.
Since we are concerned with the calendar, take note of another female Carmelite Doctor, Teresa of Avila. On Thursday October 4, 1582 the ancient Julian calendar (organised by Julius Caesar in 45 BC and still observed by many Orthodox Christians) was officially supplanted at the command of Pope Gregory XIII with the Gregorian Calendar we still use today.
To help correct a calendrical slippage of several days, at midnight of October 3 to 4 the calendar skipped to Friday October 15. The famed Jesuit mathematician Christopher Clavius worked out the calculations (without the use of the then-rare decimal point), choosing October for the jump because it had the fewest feast days.
St Teresa of Avila died on the very night on which Pope Gregory commanded the jump from October 4 to 15, which is why the Doctor’s feast is celebrated on the 15th rather than the 3rd or 4th.