Our Lady of the Militia: How Sicily was Saved From Invasion

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Our Lady of the Militia: How Sicily was Saved From Invasion
Our Lady of the Militia: How Sicily was Saved From Invasion

Most Catholics are not aware of the story of how Our Lady repelled a Muslim invasion of Sicily on horseback and in armor. Perhaps this miraculous deliverance from ruin is unknown because it is so contrary to today’s spirit of rampant ecumenism.

Back in 1091, Sicily was under the sway of the Normans, a warlike yet Christian people that had come from France. A few years later, these same Normans would play a decisive role in the First Crusade, retaking Jerusalem and other cities and establishing the Crusader states.

An Unforgettable Battle

For the citizens of Scicli in Sicily, an event that would be remembered for centuries took place in May of 1091. Suddenly, a fleet of Muslim Turks appeared on the horizon, heading for this vulnerable seacoast town.

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King Roger of Sicily gathered what forces were at his disposal and prepared for battle. Meanwhile, the concerned citizens prayed and fasted, asking for Divine Intervention to counter the impending threat.

The Muslim forces landed on the beach of Donnalucata and faced King Roger’s forces, which had been bolstered by the townspeople. However, as the battle raged, the Christian forces began to falter. The enemy’s victory seemed certain when suddenly a miracle occurred.

Our Lady appeared on a magnificent white stallion with a drawn sword and charged against the Turks in a terrible blue cloud of smoke. The Turks were driven back and suffered a crushing defeat.

Celebrating Our Lady’s Victory Until Today

Today, the townsfolk of Scicli celebrate the important battle with a procession featuring a magnificent life-sized statue of Our Lady throughout the town. This commemoration helps to keep the memory of the great victory alive. Reenactments of the play also take place on this important day.

Of course, no feast day would be complete without a feast. Thus, the Sicilians created a pastry commemorating the occasion called teste di Turco or Turkish heads. Puffy custard-filled pastries are shaped like the turbans of the invading Turks.

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To remember this critical battle, the Sacred Congregation of Rites issued a decree for the recitation of a special Office and Mass by the clergy of the city of Scicli on the last Saturday of May.

Lest We Forget: Our Lady Always Protects Her Children

One big takeaway from this story is that Our Lady, being the best of all mothers, will always watch over her children and, when necessary, even protect them in person if they are in danger.

Numerous interventions of Our Lady in battles serve as reminders to have confidence in Our Lady, especially in chaotic and troubled times.

Her intervention recalls the words of the Song of Solomon: “Who is she that cometh forth as the morning rising, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army set in array?”(6:10).

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