|Jan Sobieski at Vienna, by Jan Matejko; in Vatican Museums. (From Wikipedia Commons.)|
It originated in Spain in the 1500s, and the date moved around a bit. But what's especially noteworthy about this date is that it is the anniversary of the victory of Polish King Jan Sobieski over the invading Turks, at the gates of Vienna, in 1683, despite overwhelming odds. (Be sure to click on the picture above; it's a magnificent scene, but it had to be shrunk down to fit.)
Before heading to the battle, Sobieski brought his army to Czestochowa, Poland, to the monastery of Jasna Gora, where the image of the Black Madonna was housed. As they marched to war, they sang the Polish national anthem, which was a hymn to our Lady.
The Turks, despite vastly outnumbering Sobieski's forces, eventually withdrew; in doing so, they left behind many of their stores of food. Among the items the jubilant Viennese discovered was coffee!
And so, to mark the victory, Viennese bakers created pastries in the shape of the crescents they saw on the Turkish banners: we know them by their French name, "croissant." Perhaps they drank the Turks' coffee with them?
While the story of the croissant may be apochryphal, it is certain that Pope Innocent XI gave thanks to our Lady for her intervention by establishing this feast in her honor. Pope Pius X established it on this date, which is the anniversary of the battle. After the Second Vatican Council, the feast was dropped from the calendar. But in 2002, the most famous son of Poland, Pope John Paul II, restored it to the Roman Calendar.
And so, after Holy Mass, the parish's new youth director and I drove down to Troy to eat croissants and drink coffee! But we didn't get the Turkish kind, which is no great loss, to be honest. But that's another story.
Our Lady of Victory! Pray for us!