Thousands of Poles hold a massive prayer gathering “to save Poland and the world” against the “Islamization” of Europe

Polish Catholics clutching rosary beads gathered at locations along the country’s 2,000-mile border on Saturday for a mass demonstration during which they prayed for salvation for Poland and the world. Many participants described it as demonstration against what they see as the secularization of the country and the spread of Islam’s influence in Europe, The New York Times reports.

The official website gave a number of reasons why it made sense to have the prayer event on Saturday because, among others, it was the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, which commemorates the Christian victory over Muslim forces in the Battle of Lepanto. The battle saved the Christian West from defeat at the hands of the Ottoman Turks. The victory of the Holy League is of great importance in the history of Europe and of the Ottoman Empire, marking the turning-point of Ottoman military expansion into the Mediterranean.

“We want our Catholic faith to continue, to keep our children safe, that our brothers from other countries can understand that our faith is unwavering and that we feel safer, not only in Poland but also in the world,” one woman said to BBC.