A Bishop in Nigeria, Boko Haram, and a Sword

The following excerpt comes from 10 Wonders of the Rosary, the forthcoming book by Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC. It will be available in December 2018 at shopmercy.org or by calling 800-462-7426.

In April 2014, Boko Haram kidnapped more than 200 young girls from a school in Nigeria, Africa. Boko Haram is the notorious radical Muslim group that violently slaughters non-Muslims by such means as decapitation or burning people alive.

In December 2014, Jesus appeared to a Catholic bishop in Nigeria and instructed him that the rosary was the weapon that would overcome Boko Haram. Bishop Oliver Dashe Doeme of the diocese of Maiduguri, Nigeria, claims that one evening, while he was praying his rosary, Jesus appeared to him holding a sword. During the vision, Jesus extended the sword toward the bishop. When the bishop went to take the sword from Jesus, it miraculously transformed into a rosary! Once the bishop had the rosary-sword in his hands, Jesus looked at him and said three times, "Boko Haram is gone! Boko Haram is gone! Boko Haram is gone!"

After the bishop of Maiduguri had his vision, he began to promote the rosary in his diocese in Nigeria. In many of his interviews, he repeats his vision and informs his listeners of his interpretation of the vision in the following words: "As soon as I received the sword, it turned into a rosary. I didn't need any prophet to give me the explanation. It was clear that with the rosary we would be able to expel Boko Haram." On October 13, 2016, dozens of kidnapped girls were suddenly released by Boko Haram from captivity. In May 2017, another 83 girls were released. Then, on July 3, 2017, 700 members of Boko Haram surrendered their weapons and turned themselves in to Nigerian authorities.

The religion of Islam came into existence in the seventh century. From its beginning, Islam has had various groups within it that have sought to conquer and eradicate Christianity. As a result, numerous battles have taken place between Christianity and Islam over the past 1,300 years. There is one battle, however, that stands out from all the rest: the Battle of Lepanto. It was a decisive battle, one that saved Christianity and Western Civilization from Islamic takeover.

The Servant of God Joseph Kentenich offers a brief synopsis of the Battle of Lepanto:

In the 16th century, the archenemy [the Muslim Turks] threatened all the port cities of the Mediterranean with its terrible fleet. Pius V brought together an armada in union with Spain, Venice, and the Knights of Malta, with Don Juan as admiral. Pius himself, a second Moses, set himself at the head of a storm of prayer. At his word, the rosary was prayed by all Christianity in order to secure Mary's favor in the decisive battle upon which the fate of Italy and all Europe depended.

A holy pope, a pious admiral, and a lot of people praying the rosary were all it took to overcome Muslim extremists.

Here's a condensed version of the story of the Battle of Lepanto in all its wonder.

Saint Pope Pius V, a Dominican pope, knew that if Europe were to be saved from the threat of radical Islam, it would only come about through the intercession of the Virgin Mary. It was his initiative to organize a Christian militia and ask all of Christendom to pray the rosary for victory against the Muslim threat. In preparation for the confrontation, Pope Pius V handpicked Don Juan of Austria to be commander of the Christian fleet. (See the cover for a depiction of Don Juan.)

Acclaimed by G.K. Chesterton as the last knight of Europe, Don Juan knew that he was about to engage in a holy war with Islam. Prior to sailing off to war, he gave orders that all blasphemy was forbidden on his ships and required that all of his men fast for three days. He forbade women from entering his vessels, lest any of his men fall into the sin of lust and mar their souls before battle. He ensured that his vessels would have priests available to hear Confessions and grant absolution. He also distributed a rosary to every man in his armada. Then, on the eve of battle, leading by example, he required that all of his men take the spiritual sword of the rosary into their hands and pray it - and they did.

Likewise, on the evening of October 6, 1571, the day before the decisive battle, St. Pope Pius V himself led the rosary at the Dominican convent of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva in Rome. With tears in his eyes and a rosary in his hand, he entrusted the Christian cause to the Queen of Heaven.

On the morning of October 7, 1571, the Christian fleet set sail in search of the Muslim fleet to meet them head on. Don Juan and his men had no idea that they were sailing toward an advanced and highly trained Muslim fleet of more than 300 vessels and 100,000 men. Though the Christian fleet had close to 285 vessels, they only had 70,000 men, many of whom were unskilled in naval combat. The two forces caught sight of each other for the first time in the large bay just south of the town of Lepanto (now Nafpaktos), Greece. Once they saw each other, they formed their battle lines. The battle was on. It was the cross versus the crescent.

The battle lasted for five bloody hours. At one point, Don Juan steered his vessel toward the vessel from which Ali Pasha commanded the Islamic forces. Before the two flagships collided and their crews could engage in hand-to-hand combat, Don Juan, filled with the spirit of God, danced with abandon on the deck of his ship. This act enraged Ali Pasha, but he was unable to take his revenge because a musket ball to the forehead immediately killed him. One of the armed prisoners who had been freed from the Muslim ship cut off what was left of Ali Pasha's head and hoisted it on a pike. The banner of Allah was taken down and ripped apart, and the banner of St. Pope Pius V was raised in its place.

The battle was a complete success for the Catholic forces. The Turkish fleet lost more than 30,000 men. Thirty-four Muslim admirals and 120 galley captains were among the dead. The Muslim fleet also lost the majority of its vessels. The Christian fleet was able to set free nearly 15,000 Christian galley slaves who had been aboard the Muslim vessels. It was a complete and total victory for Christianity.

What is less well known about the Battle of Lepanto is that Our Lady of Guadalupe was there. In the battle formation of the Christian fleet, a decorated admiral named Giovanni Andrea Doria was in charge of the right wing of the fleet. Aboard his galley ship, he carried a most precious gift, given to him by King Philip of Spain: a replica of the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe that had been touched to the original!

As history attests, after the apparitions of Our Lady of Guadalupe occurred in Mexico in 1531, Archbishop Montufar of Mexico City had five copies of the miraculous image made. Each was touched to the original image. One of these images was given to the king of Spain in 1570. King Philip, in turn, gave his copy to Admiral Doria, who brought the image with him on his ship to the Battle of Lepanto. Our Lady of Guadalupe, La Conquistadora, had conquered the false gods of the Aztecs in Mexico; she returned to Europe to be present at the decisive Battle of Lepanto and defeat the Islamic threat.

Also present at the Battle of Lepanto was Miguel Cervantes, the famed author of Spain's greatest novel, Don Quixote. One of the many valiant men who had come to the defense of Christianity, Cervantes was severely wounded at the Battle of Lepanto, and wrote the following about the battle that saved the west:

Ages gone by have seen nothing like unto the Battle of Lepanto, nor has our age witnessed anything to compare with it, and in all probability ages to come will never record a more beautiful or glorious triumph for the Church.

The Battle of Lepanto did indeed save Christianity from Islamic takeover. Yet, as glorious as the Battle of Lepanto was for Christianity, there are signs today that an even more glorious triumph over Islam will occur in the future.

Venerable Fulton J. Sheen believed that this future victory would once again come about through the intercession of the Virgin Mary. He states:

At the present time, the hatred of the Muslim countries against the West is becoming a hatred against Christianity itself. Although the statesmen have not yet taken it into account, there is still grave danger that the temporal power of Islam may return and, with it, the menace that it may shake off a West that has ceased to be Christian and affirm itself as a great anti-Christian world power. Muslim writers say, "When the locust swarms darken vast countries, they bear on their wings these Arabic words: 'We are God's host, each of us has ninety-nine eggs, and if we had a hundred, we should lay waste the world with all that is in it.'" The problem is: How shall we prevent the hatching of the hundredth egg? It is our firm belief that the fears some entertain concerning the Muslims are not to be realized, but that Islam, instead, will eventually be converted to Christianity - and in a way that even some of our missionaries never suspect. It is our belief that this will happen not through the direct teaching of Christianity but through a summoning of the Muslims to a veneration of the Mother of God.

Fulton Sheen is right. The "hatching of the hundredth egg" of Islam is only going to be prevented by means of veneration of the Mother of God. History has shown that dialogue with Islam is not going to bring Muslims to Jesus Christ. Something much more powerful than dialogue is needed.

In some of his other writings, Fulton Sheen suggests that Mary's apparitions in Fatima, Portugal, will play a major role in bringing about the conversion of Muslims to Catholicism. The town of Fatima, after all, is named after one of the daughters of Mohammed. Also, the mother of Jesus is the only woman mentioned by name in the Koran - not even Mohammed's own mother is named. The Mother of Jesus can - and will - lead the followers of Mohammed to Jesus Christ. Many Muslims already pray on a string of beads that looks very similar to the rosary; several mysteries of the rosary are even present in the Koran (the Annunciation, Visitation, and Nativity). If Muslims come to Jesus Christ and Catholicism, it will be through Mary. The exchange of Muslim prayer beads for the rosary will be an easy one.

There must be a reason why God has allowed Islam to flourish and spread all over the globe. Is God planning something absolutely wonderful for our times, an event that would lead an entire religion (Islam) to convert to Catholicism? If the Holy Trinity were to work a miracle similar to that which occurred in Mexico with Our Lady of Guadalupe in the 16th century, we would undoubtedly witness the conversion of millions of Muslims to the fullness of the truth in Catholicism.

Will this happen? We don't know.

But we can speculate how it might.

Dare we hope that the Holy Trinity will send the Mother of God to Mecca to stand atop the Kaaba? If such an event were to occur, I guarantee she will be holding the Christ Child in one hand and a rosary in the other.

May Our Lady of the Rosary bring the Muslims to Jesus Christ and Catholicism!

Read more in Fr. Donald Calloway's book 10 Wonders of the Rosary, which will be available in December 2018 at shopmercy.org or by calling 800-462-7426.


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