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Various events have taken place around the world to commemorate the anniversary. In Rome, for example, the non-profit Lepanto Center — headed by the erudite Roberto de Mattei — organized an evening roundtable. With presentations by Italian Admiral Ezio Ferrante and Professor Massimo de Leonardis, among others, the event emphasized the importance of the battle — and perhaps raised awareness of the threat we face today. There were also special Masses celebrated in Europe, the US and Australia.
We can also still read great accounts of the battle. G. K. Chesterton famously memorialized the battle in his 1911 poem, “Lepanto.” But that has been forgotten, too. And the Jesuit priest Luis Coloma wrote a short 1912 account, viewable here with images of famous paintings of the battle. There is also an excellent 12-page conference booklet titled Lepanto: A Category of the Spirit that can be viewed on-line. And the command ship of Don Juan of Austria can still be viewed, fully-restored, at the Naval Museum of Barcelona (Spain).
But, generally, it is a pity to realize how little has been written about the famous battle. Of the few articles that have been written about it, for example, only those by Michael Novak (2006) and Christopher Check (2007) are worth reading. A cumbersome, over-written account of the battle was also written by Harry W. Crocker III; but it is a slog.
In 2006, Count Niccoló Capponi, a military historian in Florence (Italy) published the eminently readable, if detailed, Victory of the West: The Great Christian-Muslim Clash at the Battle of Lepanto (De Capo Press), which was favorably reviewed by Victor Davis Hanson in First Things and Daniel Johnson in The New Criterion.
Save for these, and a few awkward posts at different Catholic websites, there is lamentably very little out there.
Western elites continue to downplay the threat of radical Islam and continue to seek “peaceful coexistence,” suggesting approaches that will avoid military conflict. The suggestion is that dialogue, diplomacy and tolerance will somehow disarm radical Islamism.
Perhaps it might be worth recalling the words of the young Don Juan, who, in the final moments before the battle started on that fateful October 7th, was counseled that there was still time to avoid a full battle. As Christopher Check recounts:
“Gentlemen,” he said, looking around at his military commanders, “the time for counsel has passed. Now is the time for war.”
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