Saturday, September 12, is the Feast of the Holy Name of Mary. The day celebrates one of the three things that the Devil once admitted to St. Francis of Assisi he was afraid of (the Holy Name of Jesus and the brown scapular being the other two).
September 12 was chosen as the date for this feast thanks in large part to the Battle of Vienna in 1683. On September 12 of that year, the Polish king and warrior Jan III Sobieski saved the city of Vienna, Austria, from the Turkish army in a spectacular military victory that changed the course of history. Sobieski made a bold assault over a mountain range, and when the shouts of his Hussar cavalry “made known that the ‘Northern Lion’ was on the field… the Turks fled, panic-stricken.” Sobieski attributed the victory to God and to Our Lady of Częstochowa, whose intercession he had sought at her shrine in Poland before marching to battle. Amending a famous saying of Julius Caesar, Sobieski later wrote: Veni, vidi, Deus vicit— “I came, I saw, God conquered.”
Which brings us to throwing a Holy Name of Mary Party. For the beverage, we recommend a Sobieski Espresso, which combines two things associated with the Battle of Vienna: Sobieski (or the smooth vodka bearing his name), and coffee. Cappuccino, or “little Capuchin,” is said to have been invented by a beatified Capuchin friar named Marco d’Aviano who used coffee beans left behind by the hastily retreating Turks.
1 oz. Sobieski Espresso Vodka (regular Sobieski vodka works too)
1 oz. Kahlua
1 oz. fresh espresso
Raspberries for garnish
Pour all ingredients except raspberries into a shaker with ice and shake forty times. Pour into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish the drink with raspberries, using a sword-shaped cocktail spear in honor of Sobieski. Optional: rim the glass with crushed chocolate-covered espresso beans.
And for something to snack on, how about croissants and bagels? According to one legend, the Turks tried to tunnel under the city’s walls in the early morning when a baker heard them and notified the Viennese troops in the nick of time. After the battle, the baker was rewarded with a patent to produce a bread commemorating the victory over the Turks, whose flag bore a crescent, the symbol of Islam. The result: the croissant, which is French for crescent.
And according to another legend, bagels are so shaped in honor of the stirrups of the brave Jan Sobieski. Whether these legends are true or not will matter less to you after your second Sobieski Espresso.
Lastly, for a toast, you can use Sobieski’s Veni, vidi, Deus vicit or a verse taken from the Litany of Divine Praises: “Blessed be the name of Mary, Virgin and Mother.” Heck, why not use both?