The actual Feast date of September 12th also has special significance. In 1683, the Moslem Turks, under the leadership of Sultan Mohammed IV, once again began their aggression against Christian Europe. Just a few years earlier, they had been stopped at Poland. A huge army of Muslim Turks, estimated at around 300,000, marched through Hungary (parts of which had been under their control for 150 years) towards Austria. They ravaged Hungary, and were partly successful because of a Calvinist named Thokoly who incited rebellion against the Catholic rulers; for his traitorous dealings, Mohammed IV named Thokoly “King of Hungary and Croatia,” but with the understanding that he was simply a vassal to his Moslem overlord.
The Moslem aggression continued on to Austria. Emperor Leopold fled from Vienna. By July, 1683, the Grand Vizier Kara Mustapha laid siege to Vienna, defended by an army of only 15,000 Christians. The papal nuncio as well as Emperor Leopold begged King Jan Sobieski, who had defeated the Moslem Turks at the Polish borders and had earned the title “Unvanquished Northern Lion,” to come to their aid. Sobieski did not hesitate.
In August, Sobieski began his campaign. As he and his troops passed the Shrine to Our Lady of Czestochowa, they begged the Blessed Mother’s blessing and intercession. At the beginning of September, they crossed the Danube and met with the German armies. On September 11, Sobieski was outside of Vienna with an army of about 76,000 men. The hussars lured the Moslem Turks into thinking they were on retreat, and then with reinforcements attacked. The Moslem Turks retreated, but were followed by Sobieski’s calvary. The vanquished Moslem Turks fled Austria (but only after slaughtering hundreds of hostages). Vienna and Christian Europe were saved. The Moslem standard proclaiming “Death to the Infidel” was taken by Sobieski and delivered to the Pope. Worshiping at a Holy Mass of Thanksgiving, Sobieski fell prostrate and with outstretched arms declared it was God’s cause and praised Him for the victory saying, “Veni, vidi, Deus vicit.” meaning “I came, I saw, God conquered,” which he also wrote in a letter to Pope Innocent XI.
On September 12th, Sobieski triumphantly entered Vienna. Pope Innocent XI thereupon declared September 12th as a date to honor Mary, whose maternal intercession had saved Christendom just has it had over 100 years earlier at the Battle of Lepanto. As for Kara Mustapha, Mohammed IV had him strangled for being defeated by the Christians. Pause for a moment: Only the ignorant would not see the connection between September 11, 1683 and the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
As we celebrate this feast day, let us remember the opening prayer for the Mass: “Lord, our God, when your Son was dying on the altar of the cross, He gave us as our mother the one He had chosen to be His own mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary; grant that we who call upon the holy name of Mary, our mother, with confidence in her protection may receive strength and comfort in all our needs.” May our Blessed Mother continue to protect us, especially those Christians suffering under Islamic persecution this very day.