Before we explain the October Devotion, let’s know what Devotion is. Devotions are popular prayers, rituals and pious practices used by individuals or groups to worship God or venerate Mary and the saints. They are external practices of piety which are not part of the official liturgy of the Catholic Church but are part of the popular spiritual practices of Catholics.
Catholics dedicates each month of the year to a specific devotion and the month of October is dedicated to Mary our Lady of rosary. It’s called the month of the Rosary. Other forms of devotions are as follows.
- the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
- the Holy Face of Jesus.
- the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
- Our Lady of Guadalupe
- Seven Sorrows of Mary etc.
January is the month dedicated to the Most Holy Name of Jesus; February is dedicated to the Holy Family; March is dedicated to Saint Joseph; April to the Eucharist; May to the Virgin Mary; June to the Sacred Heart of Jesus; July to the Most Precious Blood; August to God Father Almighty and to the Immaculate Heart of Mary; September to the Exaltation of the Holy Cross; October to the Holy Rosary; November to the souls in the Purgatory and to the dead; December to the Advent, Christmas and the Immaculate Conception.
October devotion is a devotion that was instituted to honor the Blessed Virgin Mary in Thanksgiving for the protection that she gives the Church in answer to the praying of the Rosary by the Catholic faithfuls.
This devotion was introduced by Pope St. Pius V (1504-1572) in the year 1571 in memory of the miraculous victory of the Christian forces in the Battle of Lepanto on October 7, 1571.
History of October devotion
In the 16th century, the Islamic Ottoman Empire presented a serious military threat to western Europe and sent a fleet of ships to attack Christian defenses in southern Europe. Pope Pius V recognized the grave danger and organized a fleet called the Holy League to confront the navy of the Ottoman Turks.
Before it even began, when the fleet of the Holy League was about to depart, Pope Pius V blessed the League flag, which represented the Crucifix on a red background, and the apostles Peter and Paul. Upon it, the Constantine motto In hoc signo vinces. Furthermore, the flagship Real showed the image of Mary as sign, with the writing ‘S. Maria succurre miseris’.
The patchwork team of Catholic ships was powered by the Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Knowing that the Christian forces were at a distinct material disadvantage, the holy pontiff, St. Pope Pius V also called for all of Europe to pray the Rosary for victory.
On October 7, 1571, a great victory over the mighty Turkish fleet was won by Catholic naval forces primarily from Spain, Venice, and Genoa under the command of Don Juan of Austria. It was the last battle at sea between “oared” ships, which featured the most powerful navy in the world, a Moslem force with between 12,000 to 15,000 Christian slaves as rowers.
At the hour of victory, St. Pope Pius V, who was hundreds of miles away at the Vatican, is said to have gotten up from a meeting, went over to a window, and exclaimed with supernatural radiance: “It’s 12, ring the bells, we won in Lepanto for intercession of the Holy Virgin; The Christian fleet is victorious!” and shed tears of thanksgiving to God.
The next year, Pius V established a feast on October 7 in honor of the Blessed Mother, originally called Our Lady of Victory. After a few centuries, the name was changed to Our Lady of the Rosary to more clearly recognize that prayer was the greatest power at work that day on the seas.
We know today that the victory was significant, prevented the Islamic invasion of Europe, and evidenced the Hand of God working through Our Lady.
What to do during October Devotion
There’s no particular standard structure of what you are to do during October devotion. But as a faithful, you are expected and encouraged to :
- Recite your Rosary daily.
- Go on Pilgrimage (Visit shrines dedicated to our blessed Virgin Mary).
- Do charity work in her honor.
- Getting invested with the Scapular.
- Learning Marian hymns.
- Decorating the statues of our blessed Virgin Mary.
- Reading books about our blessed Virgin Mary.
- Having a family Altar of our blessed Virgin Mary.