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.
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.