What is a lantern and what was it used for?
The lantern was a beacon that the boats carried as a badge of its category placed in its stern.
Thus, the boat which carries the lantern will be the biggest and the most important one, who carries the naval officer, serving as guiding light to the rest of the ships.
Lanterns were amazing work of art that were enriched when the times goes by.
The captains highly valued the lanterns, and naval officers collected them, as a reminder of their successes in the sea. In many occasions they were placed in their palaces or given away to be displayed in churches or in public places. Many lanterns were transformed into lamps in their manor houses.
The one in our web photo site corresponds to the ship of Don Álvaro de Bazán, our most emblematic sailor. This lantern was carried in his nave, in the famous Battle of Lepanto. This battle faced Spain, Italy and the Vatican States against the Ottoman Empire of Turkey.
Don Juan de Austria, bastard son of Charles Vth King, carried three lanterns in his galley, which were three magnificent jewels, made of embossed silver and named after the three theological virtues: Faith, Hope and Charity.
In 1571 this mentioned Battle of Lepanto took place, where Spain put the ships, the Pope put his prayer and Venice his strength. All united to stop the Turkish advance of the Ottoman Empire in Europe, and miraculously, this triple alliance will have an unsuspected victory. Nor Spain or Italy nor the Pope won, the Rosary Virgin won. Thanks to her intermediation the Catholic countries won.
The Pope knew how to wisely use this victory in favour of the Virgin of the Rosary, of which Don Alvaro de Bazán was devout, who took her in his ship to protect him, and thus, it will be through the mediation of the Virgin of the Rosary that will be won the battle.
This battle with its corresponding victory, can be seen in the mural paintings of the “Camarín de la Virgen del Rosario” in Granada. Many characters are recognized on the walls, Don Alvaro de Bazán, Don Juan de Austria or Andrea Doria (italian sailor). You can admire all the ships with its flags and it is very easy to recognize the turks boats with the otoman Empire emblem: its half moon.
The Pope said then that neither Spain nor Italy won the battle, but that the mediation of the Virgin of the Rosary won it. Thus, on October 7th, 1571 the winner was the Virgin, and that day is dedicated to her since then.
You can visit the “Camarín de la Virgen del Rosario” where we will discover many other secrets, of the Dominicans, of their devotion to the Virgin of the Rosary, of the Battle of Lepanto and their triple alliance or Holy League between Spain, Italy and the Vatican States.
Check our calendar with the guided tours.