12 Sept 1683: The Battle of Vienna and the Holy Name of Mary

The Holy Roman Empire and the Ottoman Empire were at war.  Vienna had been under siege for months.  On 11 September a coalition of Christian forces, a Holy League blessed by Bl. Pope Innocent XI, arrived with Jan III Sobieski, King of Poland, to lift the siege.

When he saw that the Turks were about to breach the walls of the city, Sobieski attacked earlier than he had intended.

On 12 September at 4 am the battle was closed.   Sobieski had called on the protection of Our Lady of Czestochowa before the battle.

He sent his forces of 81,000 against the Turks’ 130,000.  In the afternoon Sobieski led a downhill charge which broke the Turkish line and then seized the abandoned tent of the Ottoman general who had fled.

The Battle of Vienna halted the spread of the Ottoman Empire into the rest of Europe.

Bl. Innocent XI commemorated the victory at Vienna by extending the Feast of the Holy Name of Mary, which had been observed in Spain and by the Carmelites, to the whole Latin Church.  One of the pair of churches in Rome near the Forum of Trajan is dedicated to the Name of Mary.

Today is the Feast of the Holy Name of Mary, which in part commemorates the defeat of the Islamist Ottoman Turks by Jan Sobieski at the walls of Vienna.

Concede, quaesumus, omnipotens Deus: ut fideles tui, qui sub sanctissimae Virginis Mariae Nomine et protectione laetantur; eius pia intercessione a cunctis malis liberentur in terris, et ad gaudia aeterna pervenire mereantur in coelis.

Perhaps you readers can offer your accurate yet smooth versions.

Holy Mary, Mother of God…

Sts. Nunilo and Alodia…

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34 Responses to 12 Sept 1683: The Battle of Vienna and the Holy Name of Mary

  1. twele923 says:

    Grant, we, pray, almighty God, that your faithful, who are gladdened by the Name and protection of the most holy Virgin Mary, may by her loving intercession be freed from all evils on earth, and merit to attain eternal joys in heaven.

  2. morphysghost says:

    Sometimes we forget that we have more heroes than Charles Martel.

  3. Andrew says:

    Having won the battle, Sobieski proclaimed in his letter to Innocent XI: “Veni, vidi, et Deus vicit.”

    The enemy fled in such a hurry that they left their tents behind and some of the tent material was later used to make priestly vestments.

  4. rodin says:

    Hmmmmm. September 11 again and a Muslim defeat. Might this have anything to do with Islamic fixation on 9/11?

  5. Nicholas says:

    There is a great movie on Netfilx by the Polish and Italian film boards called “Day of the Seige” about this day. I am sure it can be found elsewhere as well.

    Andrew,

    Is that true, for it is very funny.

  6. Grant, we pray, almighty God, that your faithful ones, who are made joyful beneath the name and protection of the most holy Virgin Mary, may be freed from every evil in the earth by her gracious intercession, and that they might merit to pass through to eternal joy in the heavens.

  7. pgepps says:

    Again, with no great claims for my Latinity:

    Sight translation (with a couple word lookups):

    Grant, we pray, Almighty God: that your faithful, who rejoice under the name and protection of the most holy Virgin Mary, by her merciful intercession may be set free from all evils on earth, and with joy eternal arrive at our place in heaven.

    Smoothed a bit:

    Grant, we pray, Almighty God,
    that your faithful, who rejoice under the name and protection of the most holy Virgin Mary,
    may by her merciful intercession be set free from all earthy ills
    and with joy eternal find a place in heaven.

  8. Andrew says:

    Nicholas:

    Is it true?

    A picture of a chasuble made from the captured material:

    http://bit.ly/1xV7p7g

  9. Ah, what about the croissants and coffee? Supposedly, Viennese bakers made croissants — in imitation of the crescent on the invaders’ banners; and they captured coffee from the fleeing Turks.

    I, at any rate, had a croissant and coffee this morning; but no Turkish coffee, which I had in Turkey, and didn’t strike me as all that wonderful. I like Espresso better.

  10. Bob B. says:

    Yesterday, “an inter-religious meeting sponsored by the Sant’Egidio community has concluded with a statement that “there is no holy war; the elimination of the other in the name of God is always blasphemous.”
    Good thing Bl. Pope Innocent XI didn’t know this and thank heaven the Turks were stopped.

  11. acardnal says:

    Andrew, thanks for the photo link and background on the chasubles. That is fascinating!

  12. YoungLatinMassGuy says:

    I prayed for the conversion of muslims around the world, and for the defeat of ISIS at Mass today.

  13. Gerard Plourde says:

    An interesting sidelight to this is the fact that the Turks were aiding the Protestant Imre Thököly in his bid to have Hungary independent of Hapsburg rule. Politics does indeed make strange bedfellows. Thököly was more interested in independence than in defending Christendom. (Or did he think that the Catholic Hapsburgs were somehow not Christian?)

  14. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Johann Kaspar Kerll was trapped in Vienna during the siege, and six years later composed his Missa in Fletu Solatium Obsidionis Viennensis (which I have seen translated in one CD review as “Mass of Consolation while Lamenting the Siege of Vienna”). There are two fairly recent recordings of it, both still available, one by the Johann Rosenmüller Ensemble on a 2012 Kerll portrait album entitled Die Osmanen Vor Wien 1683 [= ‘The Ottomans at the Gates of Vienna in 1683’] and another, together with Biber’s Vespro della Beata Vergine and some Kerll motets by Cantus Cölln in 2013. Quite appropriately, the whole Gloria can be heard on the Johann Rosenmüller Ensemble site, and snippets to ‘sample’ of other parts can be found at various vendors online.

  15. Imrahil says:

    Dear Gerard Plourde,

    I don’t know his intention. But it should be born in mind that at time, there was Catholic-Protestant enmity just as well as there was Catholic-Muslim enmity. And of course, yes, being a Protestant of that time he did think that Catholics are no Christians. As did the Anglicans (which can be read in their court proceedings against the Catholics – which ended in being hanged, drawn and quartered, by the way).

    As late a Protestant as Thomas Mann is able to write a page about problematic stands and traits of Martin Luther, to begin with the disclaimer “but after all, he still rescued Christianity out of Romanism”.

    We Catholics, though, being fond of precision, always held the Protestants to be Christians. The “dangerous heretic” sort of Christian, of course.

    And by the way…

    Protestantism only arose, on the Continent, because its armies were busy with the Turk.

    Also, there happen some strange similarities between Islam and Protestantism. Consider, for instance, Calvin’s stand on free-will and predestination (of which the first was also Luther’s), and Luther’s suggestion about use of punishments in a state. Also, while of course the Reformers upheld the Trinity and the Incarnation allright*, if my information is correct practically the speculation, the meditation, the adoration of these mysteries all but ceased, and in this practical all what remained was obedience towards God’s commandments as the reformers held them to be (e. g. in the figure of a John Knox).

    [*Though Luther in a theological treatise actually says that Christ saved the world “humanitate Christi non cooperante”. What, then, would Incarnation – though he held it to have taken place – be there for?]

  16. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    As Gerard Plourde says, “Politics does indeed make strange bedfellows.” I am given to understand that the Franco-Ottoman alliance(s) during the reigns of Francis I, Henry II, and Charles IX and Suleiman I provide many particular examples: including the Holy Roman Emperor allied with the ‘Supreme Head of the Church in England’, Henry VIII, against Francis I and Suleiman I in the Italian War of 1542-46. Later, Louis XIV, if I am not mistaken, seemed more interested in encouraging and facilitating the the Turks to help the Hungarians against the Hapsburgs and to act against them directly as well.

  17. MWindsor says:

    Some of the greatest cavalry in history in the Polish Hussars, against some of the best infantry of the day in the Janissaries. I’ve been to the museum in Warsaw. They still have the sultan’s tent and a lot of the spoils from Vienna.

    I’ve heard before that bin Ladin chose the 11th of September to get back for Vienna. I don’t know if it’s true or not. The first attack on the WTC was on February 26th, and I’ve never found a connection. But if it’s true, then we should be alert in October. The anniversaries of Tours and Lepanto are in early October.

  18. Gerard Plourde says:

    Dear Imrahil,

    You’ve grasped my point exactly. While much is made of the Inquisition, historians conveniently forget that Protestant-controlled areas (especially England) engaged in almost identical tactics against Catholics. As you point out, the Reformers did not think we Catholics were Christian, going so far (as Luther did) to accuse the Pope of being literally the Biblical Antichrist. This belief of the non-Chrisitanity of Catholics, which subsided over time in the mainline churches (who now settle for tolerating us as “flawed and backward-thinking”), continues to this day among certain Evangelical groups.

    I’m not so sure that we can attribute the rise of Protestantism to the Ottoman threat. A number of developments in European thought and the tensions in the feudal structure that accompanied the rise of the middle class in towns provided fertile ground for successful challenges to authority, both temporal and spiritual.

  19. tzabiega says:

    There is an Italian movie in English from 2012 starring the Oscar winning actor Murray Abraham (of Amadeus fame–he is actually of Syrian Christian descent) as Father Marco d’Aviano (the spiritual commander of the battle) and Jerzy Skolimowski as King John Sobieski. It is entitled The Day of the Siege and is available at amazon.com (trailer at youtube). Its a film that never made it to the U.S. big screens but shows the whole historical context well with a fervent Capuchin Father Aviano being center stage.

  20. introibo says:

    A good day to have enjoy some Sobieski vodka…

  21. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    Some of the original defensive walls can still be seen down in one of the U-bahn stations. I placed my hands upon them and prayed in gratitude for the men who defended the West that day.

  22. robtbrown says:

    Imrahil says,

    *Though Luther in a theological treatise actually says that Christ saved the world “humanitate Christi non cooperante”. What, then, would Incarnation – though he held it to have taken place – be there for?

    That’s in line with a Franciscan tradition. The Incarnation was for pedagogical reasons.

  23. Supertradmum says:

    After 9/11, when I was living in Canada, the FBI sent out a note to all Americans as to hints of this catastrophe. I wrote a letter outlining all the days the Catholics had victories over the Muslims through-out the years of conflict. They actually wrote back and thanked me for this information.

    I knew my history and my liturgical feast days. Three generations of Catholics in my family have chosen September 12th as wedding days. This day is very special to me personally. Also, I spent two weeks in Vienna years ago and loved every minute of it.

    Where are our leaders now? None, as Catholic men have abdicated their roles in Europe and here.

    Nice paintings on my blog on the 11th and 12th btw. I love this feast day.

  24. Gerard Plourde says:

    @ robtbrown

    “That’s in line with a Franciscan tradition. The Incarnation was for pedagogical reasons.”

    True, but with the added almost incomprehensible facet that the lesson required that Jesus Christ, Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, truly and fully experience the reality of being human, with its positive and negative features (love, joy, compassion, doubt, fear, the temptation to despair as seen in the Agony in the Garden).

    The thought of that supreme voluntary act of love by God humbles me.

  25. Athelstan says:

    I’m not so sure that we can attribute the rise of Protestantism to the Ottoman threat.

    I would not attribute it either. But I don’t think that’s what Imrahil was contending.

    The Protestant Revolt, such as it was, had its own intrinsic causes (nominalism, corruption within the Church, etc.) for first erupting. But to the extent that it survived, it was very arguably the distraction of the Emperor and Catholic princes (and the Pope) – along with the concomittant emboldening of sympathetic princes in northern Germany – by the rise of the Turkish threat in the 1520’s that played the most important role. Otherwise, Lutheranism could well have gone the way of the Hussites.

  26. Athelstan says:

    There is an Italian movie in English from 2012 starring the Oscar winning actor Murray Abraham (of Amadeus fame–he is actually of Syrian Christian descent) as Father Marco d’Aviano (the spiritual commander of the battle) and Jerzy Skolimowski as King John Sobieski. It is entitled The Day of the Siege and is available at amazon.com (trailer at youtube).

    DAY OF THE SIEGE (2012) is also available right now on Netflix streaming.

    It’s a valiant effort, and one salutes the attempt to lens such an important event in the history of the West, especially in a way sympathetic(!) to the Christian forces. Unfortunately, the actual execution comes across as something of a “B movie.” Some of this is evident in the low budget computer effects, which are unfortunately used far too often to overlook; but the real weakness lays in the choppy, paint-by-numbers script and direction. One understands the desire to focus screen time on the only big name actor (F. Murray Abraham) in his role as Fr. Marco, but so little time is spent developing his actual role in building the Holy League Alliance that we never really understand why he’s important, and poor Abraham can do little with the contrived, chemistry-less side plot narratives he has foisted on him; meanwhile John Sobieski’s arrival on the scene is as sudden as that of the Ottoman army outside the walls of Vienna, Emperor Leopold is reduced to a cowardly fop, and the heroic Ernst Starhemberg is reduced to a cipher. In all honesty it feels like a lot of important scenes ended up on the cutting room floor, so abrupt are some of the shifts in the movie.

    But by all means take a look, if you can do so for free on Amazon or Netflix. There are, at least, loads of winged hussars, and you can never go completely wrong with winged hussars.

  27. Gerard Plourde says:

    @ Athelstan

    I’d agree that the distraction of the Ottoman threat gave Protestantism needed breathing room to survive infancy and grow. I’m not so certain that an undistracted Holy Roman Empire and Catholic princes could have eradicated Luther and his contemporaries. The errors of Protestantism (especially its rejection of the community aspect of salvation) were too supportive of the more negative aspects of materialism and consequently too beguiling to the weaknesses of the rising merchant and artisan class in towns. This combined with the ability to mass produce printed material make me think the most that could have been done was to delay the inevitable by a century or two.

  28. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Gerard Plourde parenthetically accented “its [Protestantism’s] rejection of the community aspect of salvation” – perhaps too sweepingly? Not only in the ‘cujus regio, ejus religio’ senses were there often strong ‘community aspects of salvation’ – especially where membership of the (or a) ‘true church’ was (and indeed still today among many Protestants, is) concerned. Even the strongest double-predestinationists tend to seek the Elect within the church pretty exclusively (if that’s not an understatement).

  29. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Imrahil says of Imre Thököly, “being a Protestant of that time he did think that Catholics are no Christians. As did the Anglicans (which can be read in their court proceedings against the Catholics – which ended in being hanged, drawn and quartered, by the way).” I would welcome any reading recommendations for court proceedings, but as a generalization about the Church of England in the 16th century and its internal complexities, that they “did think that Catholics are no Christians” is too sweeping a generalization. Richard Hooker, for example, in 1594 defending the Church of England as established against various of its ‘Puritan’ members (not least academics in orders), says (Laws IV.iii. 1) where the question is “whether we may follow the church of Rome in those orders, rites, and ceremonies, wherein we do not think them blameable” asserts “as they affirm, so we deny, that whatsoever is popish we ought to abrogate.” And (III.i.10), just as there are those who “make the Church of Rome utterly no church at all, by reason of so many, so grievous errors in their doctrines; so we have them amongst us, who under pretence of imagined corruptions in our discipline do give even as harsh a judgment of the Church of England itself.” But “so far as we lawfully may, we have held and so hold with them [the Church of Rome].” For, “touching those main parts of Christian truth wherein they constantly do persist, we gladly acknowledge them to be of the family of Jesus Christ; and our hearty prayer unto God Almighty is, that being conjoined so far forth with them, […] we ‘all may with one heart and one mouth glorify God the Father of our Lord and Saviour,’ whose Church we are.”

  30. robtbrown says:

    Gerard Plourde says:
    “That’s in line with a Franciscan tradition. The Incarnation was for pedagogical reasons.”

    True, but with the added almost incomprehensible facet that the lesson required that Jesus Christ, Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, truly and fully experience the reality of being human, with its positive and negative features (love, joy, compassion, doubt, fear, the temptation to despair as seen in the Agony in the Garden).

    The lesson especially is a matter of His Passion and Death, which demonstrates the depth of the Divine Love.

    On the other hand, St Thomas’ unique approach not only includes the above but also that the Redemption was effected by Christ’s Humanity acting as an instrument (instrumental cause) joined to His Divinity–the phrase is instrumentum coniunctum.

  31. Imrahil says:

    Dear Athelstan (and others),

    that was exactly my point. Though it must be admitted that the French-Austrian antagonism, too, played its part.

    Adhering to what the Church taught at the Second Vatican Council, I do of course not say that violent oppression of Protestantism would have been a good thing; I was only saying it would have happened… Anyway, violent oppression of violent imposal of Protestantism is a good thing, so the thing may quite possibly be academic anyway.

    For I wonder (dear Gerard Plourde) about that “beguiling to the weaknesses” thing about the reform. There was, of course, no such thing as materialism around in the 16th century (I mean the ideology, not the things we sometimes associate with it and which may just as well be sins against moderation of Christians, instead of inherent habits of materialists). Also, if there was any such thing, i. e. if there was a joy of the world which would not have itself called sin (though noone could have sensibly denied that sins could have been attached to it by excess), it was found at the papal court first and foremostly: the Renaissance.

    And it was this basic attitude, more, I assume, than any particular actual sins such as concubinage (which were found too of course), that arose both lack of understanding and anger from the Reformers. Melanchthon who was among them once let the cat out of the bag and said, with a yearning back to what he himself had helped disappear: “we have abolished the monasteries, but alas! all the world is a monastery now” in the areas under their control.

    Though I do hear that some Protestant laxity in marriage affairs also played then already its part. Complicated case. Less so, though, it may be assumed, than the the “laxity” (if it be so called) that allowed the princes to rob the Church and appropriate their properties to themselves.

    Also, Protestantism did deny (at least implicitly) the Visible Church and that the community, viz. the Church, is the chief interpreter of Scripture. However, to complete the picture it must be said that (at least so it seems to me) (lawful) individualism again, is rather found among the Catholics. In 1700, which society would be more individualistic: the Catholic city of Rome? the Anglican city of London? Or in one of settlements of the Puritans who set out to found a society more conform to the commandments of God (in their interpretation), in what is now the United States?

    There may be a sort of antinomian reaction around. If there is not practically a punishment of sins, but only an arbitrary selection of the elect and the damned, and not even a purgatory (though Luther seems to have firmly believed in purgatory at the time of the Theses), then the community must do the punishing and the bringing in line of members. If there is no final authority to oversee and correct people’s private interpretations of Scripture*, then the community must or will step in that everyone (at least in the same village or praying assembly) does not actually dare to make private interpretations other than strictly in the trodden paths. Etc.

    [*Though it would be a mistake, too, to say that Protestants believed in private interpretation. That is only the rational extension of their argument; but what they did believe was simply that what they thought was the truth and as such obvious to anyone. Still, they did abolish any Magisterium with Divine authority, which is my point here.]

    Dear robtbrown,

    interesting, thank you.

    Dear Venerator Sti Lot,

    thanks for giving details and putting me in perspective. But I think there is at least a trait in Protestantism which, even in the end of the 1980s, made the now deceased Lord Bannside denounse St. John Paul II as Antichrist qua Pope. Whereupon, or so ’tis said, he was punched out of Parliament by HIH the Archduke. Must have been a somewhat cool scene.

  32. Imrahil says:

    As for the court proceedings I mentioned,

    I once read an account of an account of them where I think I remember there was talk explicitly in direction that Catholics are not Christians. This is of course very vague and I know that it is, but that such a sentiment at least exists within Protestantism cannot (imho) be doubted, and this was why I specifically mentioned court proceedings. I may look that account-of-an-account up when I get the time.

  33. Chon says:

    “Day of the Siege”is available for streaming on hoopla. Check to see if your library subscribes to that service.

  34. Gerard Plourde says:

    Dear Imrahil,

    Thanks for the response and the detailed explication. We are indeed wading into deep and complex historical and theological issues that defy simple explanations and we largely agree on the way that these contributed to the success of the Protestant revolt. (I hesitate to use the term ‘Reformation” as I believe that the reformers threw the proverbial baby out with the bathwater.)

    I want to clarify that my use of the term “materialism” is to be construed in a broad sense – namely the temptation to acquire and hold material goods in an unhealthy manner which forms the core of the sin of avarice. Ownership of private property is licit but one cannot deny that the prince of this world tempts us to twist and misuse that which is licit.

    The victory at Vienna was a monumental achievement. But I remain unconvinced that but for the threat of the Ottomans the Protestant revolt would have been quashed.