September 11, 2022Download the Bulletin as a PDF
11 September 2022
24th Sunday in Ordinary Time
14th Sunday post Pentecost
End of the Siege of Malta (1565)
The Knights of St. John had been forced from their fortress in Rhodes in 1522, and for a while were homeless, until the Holy-Roman Emperor, Charles V gave them the Island of Malta. The Grand Master of the Order of St. John in 1565 was 71 year-old Jean Parisot de la Valette. He was raised with tales of the epic bravery of his ancestors who had served in five different crusades with distinction. A knight since the age of 20, he had been defeated and expelled from Rhodes years earlier, and had even been a galley slave to the Turks in 1541, rowing up to twenty hours a day, before escaping and swearing revenge.
The Ottoman leader at the time, Suleiman “the Magnificent”, was the most powerful man alive. His empire stretched from Vienna to Babylon, all the way to Aden, in the southernmost part of the Arabian Peninsula. His titles included “Vice-Regent of God on Earth” and “Lord of the Lords of East and West”. The Knights of St. John were crippling his empire’s operations from their new home in Mal-ta. Assembling a massive army of 40,000 troops aboard 200 ships, among them elite, scimitar wielding janissaries called “The Invincible Ones”, Suleiman was certain of victory facing an opposing force of 500 Knights and 5500 soldiers.
The Turks landed on the 18 th of May. By June 23 they had captured Fort St. Elmo, one of three significant fortifications on the island. The remaining two, Fort St. Angelo and Fort St. Michael, were located across the harbor on the peninsulas of Birgu and Senglea respectively, which the Turks then surrounded with some 65 siege guns, subjecting the town to what was probably the most sustained bombardment in history up to that time. One witness claimed that 130,000 cannonballs were fired during the course of the prolonged attack. The invaders dug tunnels under the fortified walls. They employed siege towers. When many wanted to abandon Fort St. Michael, Grand Master la Valette remained firm. After all hope of salvation had faded from the defender’s hearts, a relief force of 10,000 men in 28 ships arrived on September 7. By the next day, the Turks began their evacuation, having lost three-quarters of their army.
These foes would meet again in 1571 at a battle we will commemorate on October 7.
Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us!
Fr. Christopher J. Pollard