Brandon Vogt

Why You Should Read G.K. Chesterton’s “Lepanto” Today


Today is the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, which was commissioned after the pivotal Battle of Lepanto on October 7, 1571, a key turning point in the history of the world. Muslim forces were threatening to attack both Venice and Rome, which would likely have led to the collapse of Christian Europe. If the Islamic forces had won (and most people thought they would) our world today would likely be majority Muslim.

LepantoBut Pope Pius V called all the faithful to pray the Rosary—including the fighters—and through the intercession of Our Lady, a miraculous turn of events swayed the battle in favor of the Christians.

The great G.K. Chesterton wrote a poem about these events, appropriately titled “Lepanto”, which I’ve enjoyed reading several times. I’ve devoured dozens of GKC books, including all of his novels, most of his short stories, and scores of his essays, and I think “Lepanto” is my favorite piece of GKC writing. Hilaire Belloc called “Lepanto” Chesterton’s greatest poem and the greatest poem of his generation, staggering praise from the usually reserved historian.

You can read the whole poem free online in 10-15 minutes—it’s relatively sort. But I highly recommend buying the short Lepanto paperback published by Ignatius Press. It features the whole poem along with helpful notes and commentary by Dale Ahlquist and several essays that provide background on the battle and the poem:


On this Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, read and remember this pivotal battle upon which the feast is based, and renew your trust in the intercession of Our Lady.

  • Mack

    I re-read “Lepanto” every year in Dale Ahlquist’s excellent edition, and encourage everyone to do so.

  • JARay

    I have long been a GK Chesterton fan. I even have snippets of his writings in my head and I bring them out from time to time. One such snippet is:-
    “Now Higgins was a heathen
    And when he came to die
    They put him in an oven
    As if he were a pie.”

  • Casey Truelove
  • Cindy Murphy

    I agree with the author. This book is definitely worth reading and after reading it you will probably make right conclusion and get something useful for yourself. I also think that students should have this book in mind as well as 10 Things Students Can Do To Survive An All-Nighter. Thank you for posting.

  • turriseburnea

    Bravo! Thanks.

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