Somehow this slipped past the Disputations filter, but during her vacation in Spain in August, First Lady Michelle Obama revealed that her husband -- a.k.a. President Obama -- "always carries a picture of Mary Help of Christians in his wallet."
Mary Help of Christians is the patroness of the Salesian order
of priests and nuns, and during an Aug. 13 visit to the Spanish city of Ronda with her daughter, Sasha, the first lady stopped at the Salesian community there.
According to the Salesian news service
, she told the priest in charge that her husband "always carries with him a photograph with an image of Mary Help of Christians, to whom, those present reported, the first family of the United States has great devotion."
For Catholics, the special prayer to Jesus through his mother Mary for divine aid is about as, well, Catholic as you can get (evidence of a particular supplication to the Virgin dates back to the 3rd century, according to some sources). It is also more evidence for my colleague Jeff Weiss's theory that Obama is actually a closet Catholic
and not a crypto-Muslim, as many believe.
But Obama's Marian devotion could resonate even more deeply, as the prayer to Mary Help of Christians is associated with two of the greatest battles in history between Christendom and Islam, both victories by papal forces.
The Virgin Mary was first formally given the title of "Help of Christians"
by Pope Pius V after the dramatic naval victory over the Turkish forces at the Battle of Lepanto
in 1571. Then in 1683, the forces of Christendom beat back the 200,000 Ottoman Turks from the gates of Vienna
. During the fighting, Emperor Leopold I of Austria took refuge in the Shrine of Mary Help of Christians at Pasau.
Many view those clashes as prequels to today's war between the West and radical Islam. The Blessed Virgin Mary to the rescue again?