Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Restoration of the Virgin of Lepanto

This statue of Our Lady was on board of the Royal Galley commanded by Don John of Austria, half brother of King Philip II of Spain, at the Battle of Lepanto. The flagship of the Christian fleet is precisely that one which seized the Sultana, the enemy flagship, and decapitated the commander of the Ottomans, Ali Pasha, while Pope Pius V was praying the Rosary in Rome for the victory of the Holy League. It was October 7, 1571, a date which is commemorated every year by the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary.

On board of the Galera Real, this wooden statue of the Virgin of the Rosary became "Lady of Victory". It had been offered to John of Austria by the Venetian allies. Back in Spain after this great military exploit on which the statue of the Mother of God had watched, it was left by Don Juan of Austria at his death in 1578 to the Brotherhood of the Galleys in the church of St. John Lateran - now destroyed - in the Port of Santa María in Cádiz.

In 1854 the statue was transferred to the Cadets College of Marine Guards Academy of San Fernando, ancestor of the Spanish Naval Academy. It received a first restoration of the hands of the artist Flores Loma in September of that year.

The statue - then almost forgotten - suffered the ravages of time and was very worn. It has been given to the Naval Museum of Madrid, where, after restoration, and will be soon visible to all, in "gala dress", as promised the restorer Jose Maria Galvez Farfan. With its beautiful eyes that has kept up today its high intensity, the same that has galvanized fighters against the "Grand Turk."

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