Not many countries have their own names in Turkish. We usually use an adaptation of the French word, like Ingiltere for England, or Almanya for Germany. But the Polish had been a pebble in the shoe of the Ottoman Empire for so long that they earned their own word. Leh for the Pole, and Lehistan for Poland.
If there is a country in the world who knows the potential threat from Islam, or from Muslim countries, it is Poland. The history textbooks of my secular education in Turkey can attest to what kinds of menace it had become to expansion of Islam. It had its own subtitle in each chapter about the Empire that brought Islam out of Asia and Africa.
These Lehs are now praying the Rosary on the anniversary of a naval war that is unfamiliar to many Americans, Catholic or otherwise. October 7 is the day the Ottoman navy was defeated in Battle of Lepanto, thus saving Europe from further conquest by the formidable Muslim empire. It was a turning point in the flow of history, and Our Lady had no small role in this victory.
All the world was a chess board, the students from elementary school to college are taught in Turkey. On the one side stood the Christians, with their corrupted religion and altered holy book. On the other side stood the Ottomans, with Muhammad’s caliph as their sultan and the perfect religion as their guide.
For centuries, victories were many, as the Turkish Empire expanded from Asia to Africa, then to Europe. Even the New Rome, Constantinople, fell into the hands of Mehmed II. The Aegean Sea, which St. Paul crossed to preach, and where the Battle of Troy was fought, became a Turkish sea. What was stopping the soldiers of the caliph to make the Mediterranean Turkish as well?
From Istanbul, all things seem possible. The little island of Cyprus provided the perfect excuse for the Ottomans to deploy their mighty navy to Lepanto. Kaptan-i Derya, the Ottoman admiral, argued that the Crusaders were getting ready to conquer Cyprus. Once Muslim always Muslim. Even the suggestion of such re-conquest was unacceptable.
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