It’s a long time between legitimate holidays, so if you’re a Christian, or generally root for the Christians against the lions, celebrate today as a holiday. Happy Battle of Lepanto Day. On October 7, 1571, there was a naval engagement fought in the Gulf of Lepanto (now the Gulf of Corinth) between an Ottoman fleet and that of the Holy League (an alliance of Spain, Venice, Genoa, and the Papal States formed by Pope Julius II in 1511). Both sides sustained heavy casualties, but the Holy League won decisively, capturing more than 100 galleys and freeing thousands of Christian slaves. The battle was the first major victory of the Christians against the Ottoman Empire, the Islamic power that had conquered Constantinople in 1453.
It was a clash of the Christians vs. the Muslims, when they called it what it was. That kind of talk makes leaders squeamish today partially because it creates an environment in which is it difficult to forge friendships and alliances between largely Christian and largely Islamic nations that otherwise want to make nice. But primarily, while Islamic nations don’t have any trouble doing battle in the name of Allah, Western sensitivities work against overwhelmingly Christian nations affirming that they are, indeed, protecting the Christian faith and the right to lift the cross high. This day in 1571, the Christians won one. Has a nice ring to it.