Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The Holy Name of Mary

Today, I'm at my monastery of Subiaco, situated on a hill south of the Arkansas River. Like all of the state, they have suffered from this summer's drouth. A good rain yesterday helped. I hope that El Dorado got some as well.
The feast of the Holy Name of Mary dates from 1513 in Spain. In 1683 the Turk was besieging Vienna, after conquering Hungary and sending over a million Christians to the slave markets of Constantinople. Nothing seemed to be able to defeat the armies of Mehmet IV. To assist the Holy Roman Emperor, Leopold III, John III Sobieski, King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania (1629-1696), came to the rescue of the beleaguered city. He was assisted by Charles V, Duke of Lorraine, leader of the imperial forces. The Turk was completely defeated and fled back to Constantinople in disgrace. The King had entrusted himself and his soldiers to the protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Pope Innocent XI extended this feast day to the Universal Church.
This battle marked the turning point in the struggle between the Ottoman Turks and the Christians that went on for 300 years. In the course of the next sixteen years, the Holy Roman Empire was able to drive the Turk from Hungary and Transylvania which had been brutally annexed. Hostilities ceased with the treaty of Karlovitz concluding the Austro-Ottoman War of 16831697.
After the battle, the Austrians discovered many bags of coffee in the abandoned Turkish encampment. Using this captured stock, Franciszek Jerzy Kulczycki opened the third coffeehouse in Europe and the first in Vienna, where, according to legend, Kulczycki himself or Marco d'Aviano, the Capuchin friar and confidant of Leopold I, Holy Roman Emperor, added milk and honey to sweeten the bitter coffee, thereby inventing cappuccino.
So we have three things to celebrate today, the intercession of the Holy Mother of God for the defeat of Islam (always a good thing), the relief of the siege of Vienna, and (ultimately) America's drink of choice. How good is God!