|Blessed Bartolo Longo|
|Confessor; Apostle of the Rosary|
February 10, 1841|
Latiano near Brindisi, Puglia, Kingdom of the Two Sicilies
|Died||October 5, 1926
Pompeii, Naples, Campania, Kingdom of Italy
|Honored in||Roman Catholic Church|
|Beatified||October 26, 1980, Rome by Pope John Paul II|
|Major shrine||Basilica of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary of Pompeii, Pompeii, Naples, Italy|
Blessed Bartolo Longo (February 10, 1841 – October 5, 1926) was a Satanist priest who later repented and became a lay Dominican, dedicating his life to the Virgin Mary. He was eventually awarded a papal knighthood.
Bartolo Longo was born into a wealthy family on February 10, 1841 in the small town of Latiano, near Brindisi, in southern Italy. His parents were devout Roman Catholics. In 1851 Longo's mother died and he slowly began to drift from his childhood faith.
In Bartolo’s time, from the 1860s onwards, the Church in Naples was experiencing a spiritual crisis. Unbelief, rebellion, and the occult were widespread and affecting the faithful, especially college students. Many of them took part in demonstrations against the pope, dabbled in witchcraft and consulted Neapolitan mediums. Longo became involved with a movement that led him into a Satanist cult. After some study and several "spiritual" experiences Longo was ordained as a satanic priest.
In the following years, Longo's life became one of depression, nervousness, and confusion. Bothered by diabolical visions and ill health brought on by inordinate fasting, he turned to a hometown friend, Vincenzo Pepe, for guidance. It was Pepe who convinced him to abandon Satanism and introduced him to the Dominican Father Alberto Radente who led him to a devotion to the rosary. On October 7, 1871 Longo became a Dominican tertiary and took the name “Rosario”. Around this time, he visited a séance and in his zeal held his rosary aloft, declaring, “I renounce spiritualism because it is nothing but a maze of error and falsehood.” He also came to know some Franciscans with whom he helped the poor and incurably ill for two years. While performing these good works, Bartolo kept up his law practice, which took him to the nearby village of Pompei. He went to Pompeii to take care of the affairs of Countess Marianna Farnararo De Fusco.
In Pompei, Longo later recounted, he was shocked at the erosion of the people’s faith. He wrote, “Their religion was a mixture of superstition and popular tradition. ... For their every need, ... they would go to a witch, a sorceress, in order to obtain charms and witchcraft.” Through talking to the citizens, Bartolo came to recognize their severe lack of catechesis. When he asked one man if there was only one God, the fellow answered, “When I was a child, I remember people telling me there were three. Now, after so many years, I don‘t know if one of them is dead or one has married.”
He worried, however, that he would still be condemned to hell for his having been a Satanic priest. At the point of despair he was given the grace to internally understand that those who promote the rosary will enjoy God's special blessing. He remembered what Father Alberto had told him - that the Virgin Mary had told Saint Dominic, "he who propagates my Rosary will be saved." It was these words that gave him peace of heart and the inspiration to begin evangelizing people to the Rosary.
Shrine of Our Lady of Pompei
With his wife's help, he inaugurated a confraternity of the Rosary and in October 1873 started restoring a dilapidated church. He sponsored a festival in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary.
He obtained as a gift a painting portraying Our Lady of the Rosary, with Saint Dominic and Saint Catherine of Siena. Sister M. Concetta de Litala of the Monastery of the Rosary at Porta Medina had been holding it for the Dominican priest Alberto Radente. Radente had acquired it from a junk-shop dealer in Naples for a very small sum. The painting was of modest artistic merit and in very poor condition.
Alleged miracles began to be reported and people began flocking in droves to the church. Longo was encouraged by the Bishop of Nola to begin the construction of a larger church—the cornerstone being laid on May 8, 1876. The church was consecrated in May 1891 by Cardinal La Valletta (representing Pope Leo XIII). In 1939, the church was enlarged to a basilica, known today as the Basilica of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary of Pompei.
Later Life and Death
At the suggestion of Pope Leo XIII, Bartolo Longo and the Countess Mariana di Fusco were married on April 7, 1885. The couple remained continent (abstained from intercourse), and continued to do many charitable works and provided for orphaned children and the children of prisoners which for its time was revolutionary. In 1906 they donated the entire property of the Pompeii shrine to the Holy See. Longo continued promoting the Rosary until his death on October 5, 1926, at the age of 85. The piazza on which his basilica stands has since been named in memory of Longo. His body is encased in a glass tomb and he is wearing the mantle of a Knight of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre, a papal order of knighthood.
On October 26, 1980 he was beatified by Pope John Paul II, who would call him the "Apostle of the Rosary" and mentioned him specifically in his apostolic letter "Rosarium Virginis Mariae" (The Rosary of the Virgin Mary).
On October 7, 2003 Pope John Paul II prayed for world peace at the Basilica. More than 30,000 people were waiting to greet him as he flew in by helicopter.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Bartolo Longo.|
- Blessed Bartolo Longo
- The Conversion of Bl. Bartolo Longo
- Pope John Paul II's Pastoral Visit to the Shrine of Our Lady of the Rosary of Pompei, 7 October 2003
- Biography of Blessed Bartolo Longo by Angelo Stagnaro