Beneath Thy Protection

Beneath your compassion,
We take refuge, O Mother of God:
do not despise our petitions in time of trouble:
but rescue us from dangers,
only pure, only blessed one.

Beneath Thy Protection is one of the earliest Christian prayers of our Blessed Virgin Mary. It dates to approximately the year ~250 AD a century before the Church established for the first time the canon of scripture in the Synod of Hippo in 393 AD. It was part of the Christmas liturgy celebration and it is still used in the liturgies of the Coptic, Byzantine, Armenian and Roman rites of the Church.

mariejesus

This very early Christian devotion to our Lady embraces the words of Christ when He said to John at the foot of the Cross:

“When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.”

Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home”.

John 19:26-27

John his beloved disciple stands right there for all of us: “Behold, your mother”, Christ gave us his mother to us; the Blessed Virgin Mary is our mama! Christians throughout the centuries have understood it clearly. That is why Beneath Thy Protection is such a beautiful intercessory prayer to our Lady.


 

Battle of Lepanto

1280px-Battle_of_Lepanto_1571

Centuries later Christians in Europe fled to the Blessed Virgin for protection against the invasion of the Muslim forces of the Ottoman Empire. The Battle of Lepanto, October 7, 1571 stand as one of those defining days in Western history. Many historians argue that a defeat of the Christian forces opposing the Muslim invasion would have been a catastrophe for Christendom in Europe, allowing the Turks to overrun most if not all of Europe.

As the Holy League, a coalition of Catholic states, including Genoa, Spain and Papal States fought the invading forces many cities throughout Europe prayed the Holy Rosary asking for the intersection of the Blessed Virgin Mary to her Son. It is easy to imagine people gather in Churches chanting in Latin:

Sub tuum praesidium
confugimus,
Sancta Dei Genetrix.
Nostras deprecationes ne despicias
in necessitatibus nostris,
sed a periculis cunctis
libera nos semper,
Virgo gloriosa et benedicta.

We fly to thy protection,
O Holy Mother of God;
despise not our petitions
in our necessities,
but deliver us always
from all dangers,
O glorious and blessed Virgin.
Amen.

At the end of the five hour battle only about 210 Ottoman ships were destroyed compared to about 60 from the Christian fleet. The battle signified the last great maritime battle fought with galleys and a major victory against Islamic invading forces. As the result, Pope Pius V instituted October 7 as the feast day of Our Lady of the Rosary.

GK Chesterton brilliant Poem Lepanto:

Lepanto

(Don John of Austria is going to the war.)
Sudden and still–hurrah!
Bolt from Iberia!
Don John of Austria
Is gone by Alcalar.

Crying with the trumpet, with the trumpet of his lips,
Trumpet that sayeth ha!
Domino gloria!
Don John of Austria
Is shouting to the ships…

Viva Hispania!
Domino Gloria!
Don John of Austria
Has set his people free!

Excerpts taken from Lepanto by GK Chesterton

Blessed Virgin Mary intercede for us!

For GK Chesterton complete Poem click here.

For my thoughts on Islamic persecution of  Christians persecution in the Middle East click here.

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