“When you call Me by the name of the ‘Queen of the Holy Rosary of Pompeii’,
which is closer to Me than all the others, I cannot reject you.”
The city of Pompeii in Italy is famous for having been completely buried under volcanic ash after the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79A.D.. Each year, millions of visitors flock to see the fascinating ruins of Pompeii. However, for the children of Mary, Pompeii is a hidden treasure in an entirely different way. It is here where the “Queen of the Holy Rosary” established Her magnificent throne of mercy, from which She grants infinite graces to Her children who invoke Her with the dearest canticle to Her heart, the Rosary. Here, She promises to lead all along the road to salvation. “Come to me, my sons, and listen to me, Mary says. Come to my School, to my Rosary School and I will teach you the holy love and the short and safe way to gain heaven.” (Longo, B., Il Mese di Ottobre, 1910, vol. I, IV ed., p.39.)
The story of Pompeii is one of conversion and hope. It begins with an ex-Satanic priest, who was transformed by our Lady into a true Apostle of the Rosary.
Bartolo Longo was born in Latiano, Italy, on February 10, 1841. He was raised in a family and environment strongly anchored to traditional Catholic values. His family prayed the Rosary together daily. However, things changed radically very soon.
At the age of 10, Bartolo’s father passed away and his mother remarried a lawyer. At the age of 22, Bartolo set off to Naples to obtain a jurisprudence degree. However, at that time, the old political regime had just been overturned, and with it, the Catholic Church was condemned for her alliance to it, and was considered a denier of progress and freedom. The University of Naples too, became filled with radical professors who despised and attacked the Catholic Church. Bartolo, an intelligent youth, was smitten by all of this and started to stray from his Catholic faith. In addition, he had such a great thirst for knowledge that he began to attend séances in the hopes of discovering “truth”. He became so enthusiastic about spiritualism that he wanted to become a “priest of the spirit” and receive revelations from the “angel”. Blinded, Bartolo believed that this “angel” was St. Michael the Archangel, when it was in fact the Devil. And so it was, that on one evening, Bartolo was consecrated a priest of Satan. During this consecration, the church of Satan shook with thunder and spirits shrieked throughout. The noises were so horrible that Bartolo himself fainted with fright.
Soon later, Bartolo began having doubts and disappointments with the “angel”. He did not find the truth he was looking for. Later on, one evening, during a spiritualistic sitting, he encountered the spirit of his dead father, which left him deeply disturbed. He confided in his Catholic friend, Vincenzo Pepe, who directed him to Father Radente, a Dominican. Fr. Radente exorcised Bartolo’s mind for a month and revealed to the latter his errors. Fr. Radente also patiently explained to Bartolo the truth of his abandoned Catholic faith. By the grace of God, Bartolo turned from his former ways and was able to receive absolution and Communion again. His dark past was now behind him. He began his career as a lawyer, which would later lead him to Pompeii, where an extraordinary mission from our Lady was awaiting him…
In 1872, Bartolo arrived in Pompeii to freely offer his legal advice for the administration of the lands belonging to widow, Countess Marianna De Fusco. On October 8, 1872, while he was taking a walk in the valley of Pompeii, he was filled with sadness, not far from desperation. Often when he recalled his dark past, he would be filled with doubt and anxiety concerning the salvation of his soul. At times, the Devil would taunt Bartolo, reminding him of his former oath and threatening that he would always belonging to the Devil.
However, in the midst of these despairing thoughts, Bartolo suddenly froze in his tracks. His heart was bursting within him. He heard a friendly voice whisper to him: “If you seek to be saved, you must spread the Rosary. It is Mary’s promise: whoever spreads the Rosary is saved.” (This was in fact the same promise made to St. Dominic by the Blessed Virgin Mary in an apparition in 1208, when She entrusted the prayer of the Rosary to St. Dominic). In desperation, Bartolo raised his face and hands towards Heaven and cried out to the Blessed Virgin, “If it is true that you promised St. Dominic, that whoever spreads the Rosary is saved; then I will be saved for I shall not leave this land of Pompeii without having propagated here your Rosary.” Afterwards, there was dead silence; yet, a great calm entered his turbulent soul. It was noon, a distant church bell sounded, Bartolo prostrated himself and prayed the Angelus. When he arose, he realized that a tear from Heaven had wet his cheek and he knew that his cry of anguish had been heard and answered.
To start propagating the Rosary, Bartolo set up a Confraternity of the Rosary and preached catechesis on the Rosary, encouraging the peasants of Pompeii to recite it. A painting of Our Lady was necessary so that the faithful could gather together before it to pray. Due to time and financial limitations, Bartolo had no choice but to accept an old tattered canvas of “Our Lady of the Rosary”. And so, this is how the “Queen of the Holy Rosary of Pompeii” came to be about.
After major restoration, the portrait was displayed for veneration on February 13, 1876. Immediately, on that day, a 12-year-old girl, Clorinda Lucarelli, who suffered from life-threatening convulsions of epilepsy, received the first miraculous cure through the intercession of Our Lady of Pompeii. In 1884, another famous miracle occurred, involving terminally ill young girl, Fortunatina. Mary herself appeared to the girl and revealed, “When you call Me by the name of the ‘Queen of the Holy Rosary of Pompeii’, which is closer to Me than all the others, I cannot reject you.” Our Lady also instructed Fortunatina: “Whoever wishes to receive grace, let them recite the 54 days Rosary Novena in my honor.” Fortunatina did so and was completely healed.
Today, these promises of the “Queen of the Holy Rosary of Pompeii” still stand true for everyone. Hung on the walls in the Shrine of Pompeii are innumerable votive offerings from the faithful all around the world, offered to the Virgin of Pompeii in thanksgiving for the graces and miracles received. I, myself, and so many others in this small city of Hong Kong can also testify to the intercessory powers of Our Lady of Pompeii.
I strongly believe and witness that the power of this Novena lies in the recitation of four rosaries a day. The Rosary is the favorite prayer of the Blessed Virgin, the means to obtain every virtue, the rope of salvation, and the strong chain binding the enemy. It is the prayer of all those who love Mary.
Ex-Satantist on the path to Sainthood
Blessed Bartolo Longo’s story is a wonderful example that even those living in darkness and bondage can still return to God, if they open their hearts to accept His infinite love and mercy and cooperate with His bountiful graces.
Bartolo Longo was beatified by St. John Paul II on October 26, 1980. The late Pope called Bartolo, “a true Apostle of the Rosary” and it was also Bartolo’s writings which inspired St. John Paul II to propose the “Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary” in 2002.
The “54 Days Rosary Novena” composed by Blessed Bartolo Longo
An online copy of the Novena can be found here or hard copies may be requested by contacting through the website.
How to pray:
This Rosary Novena is to be recited for 54 Days. On the 1st to 27th day, the ‘Novena of Petition’ is recited. On the 28th to 54th day, the ‘Novena of Thanksgiving’ is recited. Additionally, on all 54 days of the Novena, 20 decades of the Rosary are to be recited each day.
“O Blessed Rosary of Mary, sweet chain which binds us to God, bond of love which unites us to the angels, tower of salvation against the assaults of hell, safe port in our universal shipwreck, we shall never abandon you. You will be our comfort in the hour of agony, to you the last kiss of our dying life.” - Blessed Bartolo Longo
在意大利的龐貝城之所以享負盛名的緣故，是因為在公元79年的時候，維蘇威火山爆發了，導致整個龐貝城被火山灰完全地活埋。因此，每年有過百萬遊客蜂擁而到龐貝參觀古城廢墟。可是，為聖母媽媽的小孩子而言，龐貝在另一個完全不同的層面上，卻是一個隱藏的寶藏。在這裡，「神聖玫瑰經之后」建立了她仁慈的絢麗寶座。當她的孩子以她最心愛的玫瑰經來呼求她時，她就從這個寶座上賜下無數的恩寵。在這裡，她答應會帶領所有人邁向救恩的道路。「聖母媽媽說：我的孩子們，到我的跟前來，並聽從我的話。到我這所學校來，我玫瑰經的學校。我會教導到你們至神聖的愛，並教導你們一條最快速和最安全到達天國的道路。」（隆戈，Il Mese di Ottobre，1910年，第一冊，第四版，第39頁）
不久以後，巴爾托洛開始對他的「天使」有所懷疑和失望。他發覺自己沒有找到他所尋找的真理。後來有一天晚上，在降神會中，巴爾托洛竟遇到他親生父親的亡靈，令他十分困擾。他便向他一位天主教的朋友Vincenzo Pepe傾訴。Pepe介紹了巴爾托洛去約見一位道明會的神父Father Radente。這位神父用了整整一個月為巴爾托洛的心靈和思想作驅魔，並向他揭露他種種的錯處。Father Radente耐心地解釋給巴爾托洛他所離棄的天主教信仰的真理。因著天主的恩寵，巴爾托洛終於棄絕了他以往錯誤的道路，並獲得了赦罪及重新領聖體的機會。他黑暗的過去現在已在他背後。他開始執業為一名律師：也正因此，後來到了龐貝工作。在這荒蕪之地，聖母早已為巴爾托洛準備了一個非一般的使命⋯⋯這使命在龐貝等候著他⋯⋯
在1872年，巴爾托洛到了龐貝，為一位寡婦，伯爵夫人Marianna De Fusco，免費提供法律諮詢。10月8日他在龐貝山谷裡散步的時候，突然充滿一股憂傷，甚至於絕望。很多時候，當他回想起黑暗的過去時，他會充滿焦慮和疑惑，擔心自己靈魂的救恩。有時候，魔鬼會恐嚇巴爾托洛，提醒他曾經對撒旦起誓效忠，並威脅他永遠都是屬於魔鬼的。
經過大型的修補後，玫瑰經聖母的畫像在1876年2月13日公開展出給信眾瞻仰和敬禮。在那天立刻有一位生命長期受著癲癇症威脅的十二歲小女孩Clorinda Lucarelli，藉著龐貝聖母的轉求，獲得了龐貝聖母第一個醫治神蹟。在1884年，再次出現了一個著名的神蹟。這次發生在一位患了末期病的幼女芳桃納天娜（Fortunatina）身上。聖母瑪利亞親自顯現給芳桃納天娜並向她說：「當你以『龐貝神聖玫瑰經之后』的名號來呼求我時，由於它比所有別的名號更親近我， 我是不能拒絕你的。」聖母瑪利亞也指導芳桃納天娜：「誰若願意獲得恩寵，讓他們以54天的玫瑰經敬禮來恭敬我。」芳桃納天娜按照聖母的話而做，結果奇蹟地痊癒了。
『啊！聖母瑪利亞的神聖玫瑰念珠，你是我們與天主聯結在一起的甜蜜鏈子，是把我們與天使結合的愛之聯繫，是抵擋地獄攻擊的救恩寶塔，是在普世沉淪中的安全之港，我們永遠不會離棄你。臨終時，你將是我們的安慰，我們生命最終的吻將留給你。』 —— 真福巴爾托洛·隆戈