Another enemy, taking advantage of the confusion caused in the West by Protestantism, organized an expedition against Europe. The Ottoman fleet started from the Bosphorus. This again would have meant the ruin of Christendom but for the energy of the Roman Pontiff, our Saint. He gave the alarm, and called the Christian Princes to arms. Germany and France, torn by domestic factions that had been caused by heresy, turned a deaf ear to the call. Spain alone, together with Venice and the little Papal fleet, answered the summons of the Pontiff. The Cross and Crescent were soon face to face in the Gulf of Lepanto. The prayers of Pius V decided the victory in favour of the Christians, whose forces were much inferior to those of the Turks. But we cannot omit to mention to-day the prediction uttered by the holy Pope, on the evening of the great day of October 7, 1571. The battle between the Christian and Turkish fleets lasted from six o'clock in the morning till late in the afternoon. Towards evening, the Pontiff suddenly looked up towards heaven, and gazed upon it in silence for a few seconds. Then turning to his attendants, he exclaimed: “Let us give thanks to God! The Christians have gained victory!” The news soon arrived at Rome; and thus, Europe once more owed her salvation to a Pope! The defeat at Lepanto was a blow from which the Ottoman Empire has never recovered: its fall dates from that glorious day.
Of the many miracles which attested the merits of this holy Pontiff, even during his life, we select the two following: As he was one day crossing the Vatican piazza, which is on the site of the ancient Circus of Nero, he was overcome with a sentiment of enthusiasm for the glory and courage of the martyrs who had suffered on that very spot in the first persecution. Stooping down, he took up a handful of dust from the hallowed ground which had been trodden by so many generations of the Christian people since the peace of Constantine. He put the dust into a cloth which the Ambassador of Poland, who was with him, held out to receive it. When the Ambassador opened the cloth, after returning to his house, he found it all saturated with blood, as fresh as though it had been that moment shed: the dust had disappeared. The faith of the Pontiff had evoked the blood of the martyrs, which thus gave testimony against the heretics that the Roman Church, in the sixteenth century, was identically the same as that for which those brave heroes and heroines laid down their lives in the days of Nero.
The heretics attempted more than once to destroy a life which baffled all their hopes of perverting the faith of Italy. By a base and sacrilegious stratagem, aided by treachery, they put a deadly poison on the feet of the crucifix which the Saint kept in his Oratory, and which he was frequently seen to kiss with great devotion. In the fervour of prayer, Pius was about to give his mark of love to the image of his crucified Master, when suddenly the feet of the crucifix detached themselves from the Cross and eluded the proffered kiss of the venerable old man. The Pontiff at once saw through the plot whereby his enemies would fain have turned the life-giving Tree into an instrument of death.
Pontiff of the living God, thou wast, whilst on earth, the pillar of iron and wall of brass, spoken of by the prophet (Jer I,18). Thine unflinching firmness preserved the flock entrusted to thee from the violence and snares of its many enemies. Far from desponding at the sight of the dangers thou didst redouble thy courage just as men raise the embankments higher when they see the torrent swell. By thee was the spread of heresy checked; by thee was the Mussulman (webmaster: that is, Muslim) invasion repelled, and the haughty Crescent humbled. God honoured thee by choosing thee as the avenger of his glory and the deliverer of Christian people: receive our thanks and the homage of our humble praise! By thee were repaired the injuries done to the Church during a period of unusual trial. The true reform - the reform that is wrought by authority - was vigorously applied by thy strong and holy hand. To thee is due the restoration of the Divine Service by the publication of the books of holy Liturgy. And all these glorious deeds were done in the six short years of thy laborious pontificate!