Lepanto in Santa Maria Maggiore

Off to the right of the main altar in Santa Maria Maggiore, the principle basilica of Our Lady in the Western Church, is the so-called Sistine Chapel–not to be confused with the Chapel by the same name in the Vatican decorated by Michaelangelo. This chapel was built by Pope Sixtus V, a Franciscan, to honor his Dominican predecessor Pope St. Pius V, depicted in the sculpture above. Click on the picture for a larger version.

Here I am near the body of the Saint:

Pope St. Pius V is notable for many reasons; two come to mind immediately: one, his codification of the Roman Rite in the Missal of Pius V, the so-called Tridentine Rite; two, his establishment of the Holy League and his leadership which led to the victory at the Battle of Lepanto.

And below is an inscription, which is part of the shrine to St. Pius V, commemorating the Battle of Lepanto (click on the image for a larger version):

And here is the translation:

Pius V, on forging an alliance with Philip II, King of the Spanish and with the Republic of Venice, (defeated) Selinus, Tyrant of the Turks who becoming insolent after many victories conquered Cyprus with an enormous fleet and was threatening Christendom with extinction

Mark Anthony Collona, Admiral of the Papal Fleet by prayer and arms defeated at Lepanto the enemy: 30,000 killed, 10,000 taken captive, 158 ships captured, 90 sunk, 15,000 Christians freed from slavery

In the upper left of the rererdos one can view the bas-relief of the Battle of Lepanto:

And below that there is this panel which shows Mark Anthony Collona presenting his victorious banner to St. Pius after the battle upon his return to Rome:

I was really grateful to be able to pray at the tomb of St Pius. Some of our brothers have the grace to work as sacristans in the basilica, so they have the grace to be there everyday, and to pray at the altar of Our Lady, Salus Populi Romani:


1 thought on “Lepanto in Santa Maria Maggiore

  1. The old architecture, reliefs and artwork are breath-taking. This is why God gives these gifts to people I think … to help in some small way to depict God’s holiness in all His Glory. You realize that if man can create this kind of incredible, nearly perfect beauty … how much more will God’s heavenly beauty be? sigh ..

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