1. Neither human nor angelic tongue, says St. Epiphanius, can describe the honour and triumph with which Mary was welcomed in heaven on the glorious day of her Assumption. This alone can be said: that there never was and never shall be a greater, after the glory and triumph of her Son. No created mind, St. Bernard states, can grasp with what glory the Blessed Virgin entered into heaven, with what devotion she was welcomed by all the choirs of Angels, with what pleasure and delight she was received and embraced by her divine Son.
Consider therefore, my soul, how the Angels, after the Redemption had taken place, longed to have in heaven in body and soul both the God-Man and his Mother. And now the desire of the heavenly inhabitants is fulfilled.
As the Lord had wanted the Ark of the Testament to be introduced into the city of David with great glory, so now with an even nobler and glorious triumph he ordered his Mother to enter into heaven. The King of heaven himself, St. Bernardine tells us, went to meet her with all his heavenly court, and thus surpassed the glory of his own Ascension.
Consider how, shining with joy and splendour, he invited her saying: “Come with me from Lebanon, my bride, come with me from Lebanon!” (Song 4:8). And Mary, fairer than all other creatures altogether, rises from earth, crosses the spheres and arrives at the throne of the Most Holy Trinity. And the Angels, upon seeing her so beautiful and glorious, ask: “Who can this creature be who comes from the wilderness of the earth, a place of thorns and tribulations, so pure and rich in virtue, leaning on her beloved Lord?” “Who is she?” The Angels accompanying her reply: “This woman is the Mother of our King, she is our Queen, the blessed among women, full of grace, the saintliest of the saints, the beloved of God, the Immaculate, the dove, the fairest of all creatures.” Hear then the canticle of all the blessed Spirits who praise her: “You are the exaltation of Jerusalem, you are the great glory of Israel, you are the great pride of our nation!” (Jud 15:9).
St. Bernard contemplates that as on earth there was no place or temple worthier of God than the virginal womb of Mary, so in heaven there is no throne higher than the regal throne upon which she was placed by her Son. He placed her at his right hand, above all the choirs of Angels, to make as it were a separate choir with his humanity. He associated her to himself as his Mother, his Bride, the Co-Redeemer, his Collaborator in the Redemption of the world, and as Queen of the universe.
O glorious and blessed Virgin, I rejoice and am glad with you for the great glory you enjoy in paradise, seated at the right hand of your Son and established as Queen of Heaven and earth. O dear Virgin, the whole universe, by believing in your divine Son and in the true Church, acknowledges you as Mother and Queen, and rejoices that in you it has such a gracious Mother at God’s side, and such a great, loving and powerful Queen.
2. Now consider, my soul, how the Most Holy Trinity crowns Mary with the most precious crown. The Eternal Father places the crown of power on her head, granting to her, after Jesus Christ, dominion over all the creatures of heaven and earth and hell, so that the Spirits of darkness tremble at her name. To her, therefore, the words of the Psalmist can be applied: You have crowned her, O Lord, with glory and honour; you have placed her above all the works of your hands (cf. Psalm 8:6-7). The Son encircles her head with a crown of wisdom, as the Queen of heaven, of the Angels and of man redeemed by his blood; and the fruit of redemption he places in her hands. As the Queen of clemency he gives her the keys of divine Mercy. The Holy Spirit adorns her with a crown of charity and, as the Mother of beautiful Love, infuses her with God’s love as well as a burning love for her fellow creatures, and ardent zeal for their well-being and salvation. Behold her, therefore, become the wonder and admiration of the angelic hierarchy.
Moreover, the Virgin was crowned with the wreaths of virginity, martyrdom and learning, for she was the Virgin of virgins, a martyr in the passion of her divine Son and a teacher of our religion, instructing the teachers themselves in the mysteries of the faith.
Finally Our Lady was crowned with the crown of twelve stars, as it is written in Apocalypse: “A woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars” (Ap 12:1). For just as the greatness and virtues of all the orders of Saints who are in heaven were united in her, so she was crowned with all their merits, represented by the twelve stars. There shone in her to the highest degree the faith and hope of the Patriarchs, the light and contemplation of the Prophets, the charity and zeal of the Apostles, the fortitude and magnanimity of the Martyrs, the patience and penance of the confessors, the wisdom and prudence of the doctors, the holiness and purity of the priests, the solitude and prayer of the hermits, the poverty and obedience of the monks, the charity and purity of the virgins, the humility and patience of the widows, with the fidelity and the harmony of the married Saints. And by them she was recognised as their Queen.
My soul, who can ever imagine the angelic symphonies, the melodies and canticles of the blessed Regions in praising God and the Queen of mercy? The great Virgin sits at the right hand of her Son, and seems to be saying to all generations: “The Lord has regarded the humility of his handmaiden, and has been pleased to let the riches of his grace shine in me. Therefore, come to me all of you who in this valley of tears and sorrow are oppressed and afflicted, I shall relieve you, for God has made me the cause of your joy.”
Yes, my adored Mother, I come in answer to your call. I am oppressed by the weight of my faults, I am prostrate, weighed down by the chains of sin. Yet great is my hope, O Queen, that you will deliver me! O my Mother taken up into heaven, reigning in body and soul in blessed glory; I believe you as such, and love and revere you. O Mary, send your light to illuminate the darkness of my spirit which lies buried in the gloom of bitter night. Let the rays burning in your holy love penetrate me, to kindle this lukewarm heart of mine with virtue, zeal and fervour. O divine Mother, do not allow my soul to perish in darkness. Surly I deserve every misfortune and punishment for my sins; yet, interposing your merits before Jesus, let your goodness deliver me from the punishments I deserve and obtain for me the favours I deserve not.
3. Behold, my soul, how all the saints of paradise come to greet her as Queen, from Adam and Eve to the Patriarchs, Noah, Abraham, and Jacob, and the Prophets and holy Virgins. “The maidens saw her and called her happy; the queens also, and they praised her” (cf. Song 6:9).
Then followed the martyrs and the confessors, her relatives, Elizabeth, Zechariah and the Baptist, her parents, Joachim and Anne, and her purest spouse, Joseph. Who can express the joy of all these, and their words of gladness and consolation? My soul, join your voice with the blessed choirs, as they exclaim:
Hail, O Queen of heaven,
Hail, O Queen of Angels;
Hail, sacred root, hail, O gate
whence light was born to the world.
Rejoice, O glorious Virgin,
the fairest of all,
and pray thy Jesus for us.
Now, if the human mind cannot comprehend the immense glory God has prepared in heaven for those who have loved him, who shall ever comprehend, notes St. Bernard, the glory He prepared for his beloved Mother, who on earth loved him more than all humans and Angels together?
Finally, Mary wishes us to contemplate in this last mystery not her glory alone, but also the glory of all the Angels and the Saints, as the glory of her vassals which is likewise unto her honour. This contemplation shall prompt us to do as the Saints did, to acquire glory.
Therefore consider, my soul: from heaven Mary invites you to contemplate in this mystery the glory of the Saints alongside her own; that glory which has been made ready for you too, to encourage you to begin and continue the path of virtue with perseverance. Thus the great Mother will always keep you in her company in the blessed kingdom. Then look towards paradise, and let the vision of so many Saints who were once weak and tempted like you, but by the grace of the Lord and through Mary’s intercession have now obtained this everlasting bliss, be an encouragement and comfort to you. Resolve therefore to do everything possible, to omit nothing, that may lead you to this infinite good: to live and reign with Jesus and Mary for ever.
If you are wanting in virtues, seek them from Mary on this day of her glorious triumph: especially, ask her for perseverance in her love, which is a sure pledge of predestination to glory.
Remember what Saint Alphonsus says: “He who is persevering in devotion to Mary, particularly in her Rosary, shall obtain final perseverance.” For as St. Augustine teaches us, final Perseverance is not a virtue one can acquire, but a gift granted to one as the reward of assiduous prayers. And what prayers are more efficacious than those which Mary addresses to her Son on our behalf?
O great and most glorious Lady, prostrate at the foot of your throne my soul venerates you from this valley of tears. Now that you are already enthroned as Queen of heaven and earth, do not forget me, your poor servant. Being so close to the source of graces, you can more easily furnish us with them. From heaven you see my miseries better, and so must have pity on me. Make me your faithful servant here on earth, that I may come to bless you in paradise. Today, as I contemplate you as Queen of the Universe, I consecrate myself to your service. In the midst of so much joy add to my consolation by accepting me as your son. You therefore are my Mother, and as Mother must save me. On this last of the Saturdays consecrated to you, grant me your love and everlasting devotion to your holy Rosary, and obtain for me final perseverance.
With you too I now rejoice, O blessed spirits and saints of paradise, because of the glory and unspeakable bliss you enjoy in God and with God. I too am destined to the same blessed glory, but shall never arrive if not with your virtues. Therefore, O angels, patriarchs, prophets, apostles, martyrs, confessors, virgins, hermits and all you saints, pray to your Queen for me, that through her mediation I become worthy of one day joining you in contemplating my God, and may glorify and bless Him, with Her, for ever and ever. Amen.
VIRTUE – Perseverance in devotion to Mary.
REFLECTION – Kneel today before an image of Mary and, declaring that you wish to be her faithful servant for all your life, offer her your thoughts, affections, works and entire being. Promise that you shall never neglect reciting at least five decades of her Rosary. Ask for her love and perseverance in your devotion to her for the rest of your life. Blessed are you if you arrive to reciting the fifteen decades of her holy Rosary every day: Mary has promised final Perseverance for the daily reciting of the Rosary.
Invite every soul to the devotion of Mary, distribute rosaries and advise the practice of the Fifteen Saturdays. If you want Most Holy Mary to come and assist you at the hour of death, always trust in her goodness, and love her as your Mother.
EJACULATION – O Mary, Queen of the angels and of the saints, You are the Queen of my heart.
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A FAVOUR OF THE VIRGIN OF THE ROSARY OF POMPEII
GIOVANNI ROMINGER: A Swiss Protestant is converted through the Virgin of Pompeii and dies on the evening of the last of the Fifteen Saturdays.
The rev. priest Nicolo Gori, the Assistant Parish Priest of the Cathedral of Volterra, wrote the following report which was published in the magazine Il Rosario e la Nuova Pompei.
“Mr. Giovanni Rominger of Silvapiana in Switzerland had been living in Volterra for many years, and had taken Ferdinanda Redaelli as his wife.
He was not strongly against Catholicism as so many Protestants are; on the contrary, following the example of his wife, he felt some devotion to the Immaculate Virgin and to the Blessed Souls of Purgatory. However, he could not bring himself to forsake his own religion because he was too little instructed in the Catholic faith, and especially because he noticed that this faith was not even being particularly observed by Catholics themselves; indeed it was often mocked and derided by these very Catholics. The morning of October 4th of the year 1888 came, three days before the great feast of the Rosary. Mrs. Radaelli came to the bedside of her sick husband, and with loving care reminded him of his decision made at another time, to become Catholic. But he said,
“I am indifferent, regarding both Catholicism and Protestantism. Both are good in order for one to be saved.”
Upon hearing such a reply this devoted woman did not become discouraged; rather, concerned to save the soul of this man she dearly loved, she had a Mass celebrated. And full of trust in the help of the miraculous Virgin of the Valley of Pompeii, she took a small image sent to her by that Shrine, and showing it to the sick man, said,
“Look, this is the image of that miraculous Virgin of the Rosary, who by means of her miracles has involved the whole world in building a Temple for her in the Valley of Pompeii.”
And she read that part of the Novena to him which is attached to the Image.
Afterwards she placed the Image under her husband’s head, and went into the next room. Her heart torn by pain and her eyes turned towards heaven, she cried:
“Most Holy Mary, who pour out so many graces from Pompeii, grant me this favour: that my husband be converted! I do not ask this of you through my merits, because I have nothing but my sins, but through the merits of your Son who came into the world to save us all. Grant me this consolation: save my husband.”
Having said this prayer, she knelt down and began reciting the holy Rosary. Then, strengthened by a strong hope, she returned to the bedside of the sick man and asked him,
“Giovanni, do you want to become Catholic?”
“Yes, call the Bishop for me,” the dying man exclaimed all of a sudden: “I want to be baptized a Catholic.”
Ferdinanda, overwhelmed by joy, informed him that the Bishop was not necessary for one to be baptized; the Parish Priest would do. And so I was sent for.
I immediately went to Mr. Rominger and in few words explained to him the falseness of the Protestants’ principal errors. Seeing that he was already convinced, but was desirous of further instruction, I promised him we would continue as soon as he was better. Meanwhile, in the presence of two witnesses, I had him renounce his errors and profess the Catholic faith. Then according to the regulations of the Roman Rite I baptized him.
So great was the joy felt by the sick man that with true contrition he exclaimed:
“Oh, how happy I now am!”
He then asked for the small Image of Our Lady of Pompeii which Ferdinanda had placed under his head: he kissed it over and over again and placed it upon his heart, from where he would often hold it up.
On the following day, the 5th of October, a Friday, the sacraments of Penitence and Confirmation were administered to him. And on Saturday, the eve of the great feast of the Virgin of Pompeii, and the last of the Fifteen Saturdays consecrated by the devotees in her honour, Giovanni Rominger was united to Jesus Christ through holy Communion, and cancelled any remaining traces of sin with the Sacrament of Extreme Unction.
That Saturday so dear to the devotees of Mary was drawing to a close. Three hours before midnight, that solemn hour which, beginning the great day of Mary, is sanctified in the Shrine of Pompeii with hymns and songs to the Queen of the Rosary, the soul of Giovanni Rominger, cleansed by the baptismal waters, flew to heaven to sing unto eternity the compassion of God and the glory of his Most Holy Mother, who had obtained for him the grace of conversion and of everlasting bliss.
FR. NICOLO GORI
Assistant Parish Priest
of the Cathedral of Volterra.”
A Friend of Blessed Bartolo Longo
1. Consider, my soul: for Mary also the hour of departure from this valley of darkness has arrived. Finally, after so many torments, she too can repeat the words of her Beloved: All is fulfilled: the prophecies, the spread of the Church of Jesus Christ, the heroism of all the virtues.
After the Ascension of her divine Son, she lived in Jerusalem with St. John the Evangelist, with whom she then retired into Ephesus. She later returned to Jerusalem where she lived until her death.
As in every other place, here too her life was dedicated to the love of God, to uninterrupted prayer and to the perfect practice of every virtue, especially that of most ardent charity towards her neighbour. She would often visit the places sanctified by the Mysteries and the presence of her divine Son, and was the consolation, Teacher and Mother of his Church.
The moment finally came which she so ardently desired, that of being for ever united to the Sovereign Good. Her spirit rejoiced in the love and desire of its Lord, and most wholeheartedly offered itself to happily return to its principle.
And you, my soul, bound to the misery of this earth, why do you not aspire to your homeland? Why do you so greatly fear leaving this life? What does this world offer you? What enchants you in this valley of tears? Pray to Mary, that she obtain for you detachment from the earth and the desire of everlasting treasures, and prepare you for death by the ardour of her holy examples!
When John heard from the Blessed Virgin that she was about to depart from this life, we read that her relatives and friends, and the Disciples, came in a great number to Mount Sion where the Mother of God then was, to contemplate her yet another time, express their love to her, listen to her last memories and recommend themselves to her prayers. Indeed, by divine providence, as St. Dionysius the Areopagite tells us, the holy Apostles too were there, who at that time were scattered throughout the world to preach the faith of Jesus Christ. All were weeping over the loss of so gracious a Mother, and so powerful an Advocate and Teacher, as the Damascene writes, and the Blessed Virgin was consoling everyone with her sweetest love, promising them all her help and intercession.
May you too draw near this most gracious Lady, express your needs to her, seek her help, and through the merits of those holy Disciples ask that she obtain for you all the graces you desire. Have confidence, do not doubt, that our dear Mother will hear you. But remember the love of neighbour and the saving of souls, helping them as much as possible by your good example, by suitable warning, by patience, by charity and by praying to God for all the world. If you pay this homage to Mary, you can be sure that she will always be favourable to you.
O my sweet Mother, if only it had been my lot to be present at your felicitous passage! If only I could have kissed your sacred feet and recommended myself to your protection! However, because I did not have the pleasure of beseeching you then, I now kneel before the throne of your Majesty and recommend myself to you, glorious and immortal.
May you be present, I pray, at my bitter death and assist me in that tremendous moment on which depends my eternity, for the sake of this adored hour of your passage and triumph.
2. Consider how, the hour of Mary’s passage having arrived, her Divine Son came down from heaven accompanied by innumerable hosts of Seraphim. Think how He must have whispered the words of the Canticle “Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away; for lo, the winter is past…” (Song 2:10). Quit the valley of tears where you have so greatly suffered for my sake. The voice of the turtledove, of your yearning heart, is heard in our land (cf. Song 2:12). Mary rejoiced exceedingly at this loving apparition, and her spirit was glad in Jesus her divine Son. And after receiving the Most Holy Eucharist from the very hands of Jesus, as St. John Damascene says, full of joy she said: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me once again according to your word. Into thy hands, O Son, I commit my spirit.” (ck. Lk 1:38; Lk 23:46). You gather to yourself this soul whom You created in your image and preserved from sin.
Behold, my soul, Mary is already departing for heaven; turning to those before her, she gives them her dear maternal blessing. You too draw near her feet and seek her blessing.
O dear Mother, I rejoice with you over your destiny and happiness, your glory and greatness. You well deserved, O Mary, to be so highly loved and glorified by God, for throughout life you thought only of loving and glorifying God.
However, I shall not quit this place till you will have blessed me. This is the last memory of the Mother who is about to leave her children orphaned and downcast. Recommend me to Jesus Christ, and have mercy on my misery. A loving glance from you, a kind recommendation, a word, a sound is sufficient to obtain every grace for me. Have pity on my mortal life, and at the hour of my death do not forget me, rush to my aid and assist me in my bitter agony.
My soul, if in death you wish to experience Mary the Mother of love, in life be a faithful child of Mary’s love. And if you desire that your death be accompanied by Jesus’ assistance, do not sever your heart from Jesus. Happy am I, should I love Jesus and Mary throughout my life! Blessed am I, should I die in their arms!
I promise you, O my God, to love no one but you, to think of no one but you alone. I recommend to you, O Mary, the tremendous passage of my soul.
A sweet melody resounded in the air accompanied by an angelic song which said: “Mary has been taken up into heaven amidst the rejoicing of Angels, who bless the Lord for having glorified their Queen. Open, O eternal gates, for the King of glory enters, and is leading his Beloved and our Queen.” The others were saying: “Who is she who comes from Lebanon leaning on her Beloved, like the Dawn appearing, beautiful as the Moon, shining as the Sun? She is a perfume sending out the fragrance of every virtue. She is a majestic olive tree, radiant in grace and beauty.”
Understand then, my soul: the Blessed Virgin, being free of original sin and any trace of present fault, does not lose her beauty; and the Lord wished that she rise into heaven, not by her own power, as Jesus, but by the power of God.
The glorification of her body in advance was a seal of the privileges of God’s Mother and of her Immaculate Conception. She was conceived in the blood of Adam, but through a very special grace without a shadow of his sin, completely pure, completely beautiful and immaculate. She became a mother while remaining the purest Virgin, a unique privilege granted to no other woman. It was therefore even more just that the glorification of her immaculate body be anticipated, this living temple of the Holy Spirit, with all the qualities of glorious bodies: agility, lightness, impassability and luminosity.
3. The light could not be divided from the sun. The light was Mary’s soul, rich in grace from the very moment of its creation; and the sun was her immaculate body, in which the Holy Spirit had formed the humanity assumed by the Word. The Church calls the Virgin choice as the Sun because she was privileged above all other creatures. And as the sun when setting leaves behind a golden light, so Mary at the setting of her mortal journey left to us the light of her examples, in all the theological and cardinal virtues, and especially in her fourfold purity: 1st. Purity of her body, by which she became the Mother of God. 2nd. Purity of her heart, by which she was the delight of the Holy Spirit in all the purest affections of her soul. 3rd. Purity in her faith in God which she preserved inviolate and fervent, and consequently she was teacher to the Apostles, consolation to new Christians and the seat of wisdom. 4th. Purity of intention, by which she directed everything to God and received everything from his hands, as a faithful handmaiden: joys and sorrows, humiliations and triumphs. She is therefore compared to the Cedar of Lebanon and to the Cypress of Mount Sion with its trunk towering towards heaven, and to the Palm in Cades.
Purity does not only regard the body, which is called chastity, but is the whole of all the virtues, which excludes any vice. As a result it belongs more to the soul, as the Psalmist says: “O Lord, who shall sojourn in thy tent? Who shall dwell on thy holy hill? He who walks blamelessly, and does what is right, and speaks truth from his heart” (Psalm 15:1-2).
In fact, God’s blessing has been promised to the one who keeps his or her conscience pure: “Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false, and does not swear deceitfully. He will receive blessing from the Lord, and vindication from the God his salvation” (Psalm 24:3-5).
All of Mary’s glory, therefore, proceeds from her being Immaculate and from being from the very first moment superior to the very Angels. And from that moment God was looking towards our age, when after nineteen centuries the dogmas of the Immaculate Conception and her Assumption into Heaven were to be defined.
O holy immaculate Virginity of Mary, together with the Church I too shall exclaim that I know not with what words I may praise you!
O my sweetest Lady, you have already left earth, and have arrived in your kingdom where you reign Queen over all the choirs of Angels. I congratulate you for the very lofty privilege of your Assumption into Heaven. But remember, it was on behalf of us sinners that you were raised to such dignity and glory; you therefore have not lost, indeed have increased, your compassion towards us poor children of Adam. And so, from the great throne upon which you reign turn your merciful gaze upon me too, O Mary, and have pity on me. See me, help me. Observe what storms and dangers I must encounter until arriving at my life’s end. Through the merits of your blessed death, therefore, obtain for me love of perfection with purity of faith, of conscience, of heart and intention, that I may end my days in the grace of God. And on the day of the Lord may my body too rise glorious and come to kiss your feet in paradise, as I join the blessed Spirits in praising you and in singing your glories, as You deserve. Amen.
VIRTUE – Purity.
REFLECTION – The best way to glorify Mary on earth is to imitate her virtues, especially purity of conscience, avoiding every offence against God. To obtain this, for ever struggle against the most frequent and deliberated venial sin, and make every effort to avoid it. Strive to overcome your passions and acquire perfection, thinking that you will gain Mary’s special protection and love. This is the way to go straight to heaven and avoid purgatory. Pray to her every day to obtain for you her fourfold purity; that is, purity of the body, purity of the heart, purity of intention and purity of faith.
EJACULATION – O Mary, Mother of divine love, let me die to the world and live only for You.
* * * * * * * * * *
A FAVOUR OF THE VIRGIN OF THE ROSARY OF POMPEII
IN MALTA: The conversion of a Protestant woman, Anna Charles, through the Fifteen Saturdays to the Virgin of Pompeii.
Anna Charles, of the Protestant faith, had been living in Malta for over twenty years. She married a teacher, Giuseppe Misued, who was Catholic, and they had a son.
The good Giuseppe and his sisters, also very fervent Catholics, had done everything in their power to persuade Anna to abandon her sect and embrace the Catholic religion, but she did not want to hear of it; indeed, she held their religion in contempt, and in particular the Sacraments of Confession and of Communion.
Quite a few learned priests were concerned about her conversion, in particular the late Fr. Alfonso Micalles of the Capuchins who worked for her conversion for years and years, but in vain.
In 1887 Anna became very ill. It was hoped that her very grave condition, the loving and concerned cares of those surrounding her, and the endless prayers addressed to God for her conversion would lead her to wiser counsel.
Since her health did not improve, the doctors ordered a very painful operation. In the Central Hospital of Malta Anna underwent a horrible amputation. She was reduced to an extreme state.
Once the wound was healed she left the hospital and passed several months of convalescence at home, still tenaciously clinging to her false religion.
Then, at the end of August of 1888, she became sick once again.
Therefore Giuseppe’s family begged the priest Andrea Debono, of Misida, a great devotee of the Virgin of Pompeii, to come and visit the poor sick woman and speak to her about religion.
He went, and had several conversations with her about this subject, but from what the obstinate woman asserted he understood that speaking with her was impossible. She demonstrated an implacable hatred toward her own husband and his family, toward the Maltese and their religion; in particular, she despised the Sacraments of Confession and Communion. Furthermore, her hatred became so diabolic that as soon as someone began speaking to her about religion, she would immediately break off all conversation.
Notwithstanding this, the pious Priest did not lose all hope, trusting in the power of the Virgin of the Rosary honoured in her very dear Shrine of Pompeii. He therefore recommended to his penitents to pray for this woman, to make Novenas to the Virgin of Pompeii, and to apply many Communions on her behalf.
A sister-in-law of Anna’s, Maria Misued, a woman of strong faith, asked Rev. Debono to celebrate a Mass in order to obtain the desired conversion. It was established that the mass would be celebrated on the following Saturday, September 15th, during the ceremony of the Fifteen Saturdays which were practiced there.
Meanwhile they wrote to Avv. Bartolo Longo in the Valley of Pompeii, asking him to have the young Orphans of the Rosary in the Shrine of Pompeii pray, to obtain the greatly desired conversion.
The days of the Novena made by these young orphans passed, and September 29th arrived, the fourteenth of the Fifteen Saturdays, on which Mary’s blessed death was commemorated, or better, her happy passage from this to eternal life. That was the day chosen by the merciful Queen of Pompeii to save from Satan’s clutches this soul for whom so many of Mary’s children were endlessly praying.
All that Saturday night Anna was not able to close her eyes in sleep. Mary’s eye was upon her, grace was working on that unhappy heart. Then came dawn of Sunday, the day of the Lord, and this Protestant woman, having hit the very bottom, was already changed into another. Quite suddenly and to everyone’s surprise she asked:
“Where is that priest? Hurry and call him, I want to see him as soon as possible!”
And then, as if a blindfold had fallen from her eyes, serene in countenance but with a certain urgency in her soul:
“I want to be baptized,” she cried, “I want to die a Catholic!”
At these unexpected words everyone burst into tears of consolation, and almost did not believe what they were seeing with their own eyes.
Fr. Debono was immediately sent for; however, he was on the point of ascending the pulpit in Misida. He answered that he would come immediately after his sermon.
But Anna, prompted by Mary’s grace, did not want to wait and so had him called a second time.
Meanwhile the Rev. Provost of the Birchircara Collegiate Church was sent. With indescribable feelings he received the abjuration of the Protestant convert, and immediately baptized her in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
“Amen”, all those present responded, with warm tears of tenderness and compunction.
At that moment the reverend Debono entered the house. At first glance she no longer appeared a mortal creature, but an angel.
She received him with extraordinary joy and asked his pardon for not having awaited him.
They began preparing her for Confirmation, without delay. The Excellent Msgr. Antonio Maria Buhagiar, as a loving father, came that night to the bedside of the dying woman, and as the Lord’s anointed laid his hands on the newly baptized woman: upon this soul which the baptismal waters had purified the Sanctifying Spirit descended.
There now only remained the final Sacrament of Extreme Unction to make the soul of Anna Charles blissful unto eternity. This too was administered to her with the holy Indulgences and all the other blessings of the Catholic Religion.
After fifteen hours of the sweetest agony, perfectly resigned to God’s most holy will, with the Beads of the Holy Rosary in her hands and embracing the Crucifix, Anna peacefully gave up her soul to her Creator.
Our great Queen of Heaven and of the earth never denies a grace of any sort, when honoured with the efficacious practice of the Fifteen Saturdays, and at the same time invoked by the title so pleasing to her maternal Heart, the title of the Queen of the Rosary, of the Valley of Pompeii.
(From the magazine IL ROSARIO E LA NUOVA POMPEI)
A Friend of Blessed Bartolo Longo
1. Jesus, before his Ascension, had said to the Apostles: “John baptized with water, but before many days you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:5)… “When they had entered (Jerusalem), they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James. All these with one accord devoted themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren” (Acts 1:13-14).
“And they were continually in the temple blessing God” (Lk 24:53).
My soul, penetrate into the Upper Room. Mary, the Mother of Jesus, is praying with the Apostles and the Disciples, who with confidence join this Holy Virgin in prayer to hurry the coming of the Holy Spirit. And we, what must we hope for in our petitions when we wish to invoke so great an Advocate? She is the Mother of Jesus; this very title is a pledge of her goodness and her power.
Let us contemplate them all together, as their hearts and spirits intimately enter into prayer; they express themselves powerfully, their desires and love forming one and the same language. What faith, what reverence, what concentration!
Here is the efficacious and necessary disposition to receive the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit: devotion to the Blessed Virgin, the Holy Spirit’s most beloved Bride, and fervent and constant prayer, especially in common because this reveals a union of faith and charity with the Catholic Church, in which all the faithful are members of one body with the Pope as the visible Head.
O Mary, who have always been a Teacher of the Church, and full of all the gifts of the Holy Spirit, teach me to pray well. Pray on my behalf, and from the depths of my heart draw forth those groans and sighs which have the power of attracting the Holy Spirit to me. Inspire in my soul and place on my lips those prayers most in conformity with your Heart, that they may please you and be fully satisfied by this bountiful God.
Spirit of Goodness and Love, penetrate my heart and pierce it with the dart of your divine fire, that it may never cease praying, according to the counsel of the Saviour, with ardent faith, concentration, deep humility, steadfast trust, generous perseverance, and above all with a love so fervent that it may never be weakened. Jesus himself promised: “For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened” (Lk 11:10).
2. Consider, my soul: just as the Patriarchs and the Prophets contributed by their sighs to draw on earth the Divine Word, so too the Holy Spirit wishes to be invoked by our desires. Let us therefore open to him not only our mouths, but our whole heart and our soul as well, saying with the Psalmist: “With open mouth I pant, because I long for thy commandments” (Psalm 119:131).
But this bountiful God always anticipates his creatures: I have loved you with an everlasting love, therefore, moved to compassion by your sufferings, I have drawn you to me (cf. Jer 31:3). And Jesus said to his disciples: “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself” (Jn 12:32).
Therefore often repeat, my soul, with the Bride of the Sacred Songs: Draw me, O Lord, after you, and we shall follow the fragrance of your oils (cf. Song 1:3-4).
Contemplate, my soul, what took place on the day of Pentecost. “They were all together in one place. And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting” (Acts 2:1-2). Understand that, as the wind scatters the clouds and purifies the air, so by entering the soul the Holy Spirit first cleanses the mind of all its evil thoughts and the heart of its earthly affections. It disperses the shadows of the intellect and then restores the soul to a wholly divine life. By his breath He gave life to humanity and to the Church of God, and by his breath shall preserve the Church throughout the centuries. “And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:3-4).
Behold these tongues of fire, lofty, shining bright, parted and resting on each one of these Saints…
These are the expressions of divine Goodness. This Spirit descends under the symbol of tongues. Man’s arrogance was the cause of the confusing of tongues at the Tower of Babel, which separated them from one another. The coming of the Holy Spirit brought to the Apostles the gift of tongues, by which the people of every nation were united in a unity of Faith and Baptism, in the Catholic Church. And a tongue of fire is the Holy Spirit, because He is a living source of love. Just as fire purifies metal by destroying any impurity, so the Holy Spirit is a burning fire purifying the soul of all its defilement. He consumes every obstacle, as attachment to ephemeral things, human honours, vanity and the comforts of life. He then raises the affections of the heart and the thoughts of the mind to heaven, and loosens the tongue to divine praises.
He is a bright fire illuminating our spirit as He sheds light on our sins and our thanklessness towards God, our Benefactor. He is a gentle fire insinuating itself in our heart, penetrating it and setting it on fire. Finally, He is a fire rising to heaven with its flames, a fire of love. This is essential to his nature, as He proceeds from the Father and from the Son by means of love. Therefore He longs to communicate what he possesses, indeed, what He is, and He pours charity and zeal into our soul.
Oh, the greatness and goodness of God! He propagates his truth and his Church through twelve Judean fishermen, deemed foolish and unrefined by the world in comparison to the wisdom of the Greeks and the Romans! These rough, ignorant and timid men, who so cowardly forsook their Master at the time of his Passion, inflamed by this divine fire communicated to them by the Holy Spirit, now confess the glories of his name in every language.
“And they began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:4).
They preach Jesus Crucified in Jerusalem, and the Gospel to all the nations of the earth. “Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in his own language” (Acts 2:5-6).
They announce to the world the greatness and wonders of Jesus of Nazareth. They fight like heroes, and prompted by burning zeal encounter torments and expose themselves to death. Finally, by suffering death they triumph over all the wisdom and powers of man, and cause even the tyrants to tremble.
We know well how to imitate the Apostles in their infidelity, cowardice and flight, but we do not wish to imitate them in their composure and incessant prayers. Therefore my soul, pray most fervently to the Holy Spirit, that He descend upon you this very day. From him seek a spirit of fervour and the fruit of zeal.
3. Fervour, the Holy Fathers say, is a supernatural movement of the soul which endlessly aims at becoming united with God by means of love, overcoming any obstacle rendering this union less than perfect. It is a divine fire, a heavenly flame coming from the Holy Spirit which generates zeal; that is, it readies the soul and renders it courageous in undertaking and fulfilling whatever God orders it, notwithstanding the difficulties. By multiplying acts of love the heart becomes so joined to God that, like the Apostle, it defies all creatures to separate them. “Who shall separate me from the love of Christ?” (cf. Rom 8:35). Neither the sword, nor hunger, nor the tyranny of man or of the passions.
Ever vigilant, the soul corrects all worldly gratification in itself: an indiscreet word it considers a tacit reproach; it allows itself not even a curious glance at creatures. Its gaze is directed to God alone whom it loves.
The soul moans with St. Paul in finding itself on earth still. Its exile weighs it down, yet its impassioned yearning incessantly raises it towards heaven. Whether advancing, says St. Bernard, or remaining still, whether acting or resting, it never strays from the loving presence of its Beloved.
It longs for everyone to burn for love of him. Yet, ever benevolent and compassionate, it prays and suffers for others.
This spirit of holiness and purity will not sanctify us if we fail to offer sacrifices in proportion to the sinful secrets and longings of our heart. This heart cannot remain empty: as soon as it becomes empty of itself and of creatures, God fills it with his spirit. But alas, I am so sensitive to any word which displeases me that I easily become disturbed and upset. I am so pusillanimous that I do not dare rebuke the blasphemies of others, or reproach any mockeries against God, the Virgin and the Pope.
O divine Spirit, inflame my heart with your irresistible love. But alas, how many times did your voice speak to my soul, yet I listened not! Had I been faithful to you, how many vices I should have uprooted, how many virtues acquired, and what rapid progress should I have made in the perfection of my state! I would be quite full of you, O my God; instead, I find I am only full of myself and all the things of this miserable world! I would be burning with your divine love, while instead I am so languid that I dare not even say I love you! O divine Spirit, forgive my past infidelity entirely, which I so bitterly deplore. Break my chains, draw me to you, for I have resolved to be faithful to you. Bow the heavens and descend even to my nothingness: let yourself be possessed by so mean a creature. I shall welcome you with joy, and faithfully keep you. Heavenly fire, purify my heart.
O holy Apostles, pray for me, communicate to me your ardour, your living faith, your burning zeal. Grant me a share in the gifts you received from this Sovereign Spirit of goodness and love, that like you I too may firmly believe and zealously work for Jesus, and with you may come to enjoy him in heaven for ever. Amen.
VIRTUE – Zeal.
REFLECTION – Today offer many acts of love to God. Do not be ashamed of openly showing that you are Catholic, and encourage others to love God. Show that you are devoted to Mary by uncovering your head at the ringing of the Angelus.
As often as you can prevent any blasphemies or offences made against Her.
Mary is very pleased when we rescue girls and orphans from being lost. Remember that if you save a soul, you shall have also saved your own.
EJACULATION – O Mary, Bride of the Holy Spirit, renew my heart and offer it to God.
* * * * * * * * * *
A FAVOUR OF THE VIRGIN OF THE ROSARY OF POMPEII
IN POLICASTRO: Doctor Vincenzo Mangia, of Policastro, is miraculously healed of consumption by the Virgin of Pompeii.
This time it is a doctor confirming the miracle of his own healing.
This favour has already been published in Il Rosario e la Nuova Pompei.
“I have received from the Blessed Virgin of the Rosary, who is venerated at Pompeii, the special grace of still being counted among the living.
The illness I suffered began with suppuration in the front area of the neck, whereby I was forced to undergo a painful operation. I was operated on by the famous Prof. Frusci, three times on three separate days in the second half of August, 1886; he was assisted by my very dear friend from childhood and colleague, Dr. Michele Capoa.
The wound was slowly healing when on September 10th I was struck by exudative pleurisy on the left, that is, on the same side of my neck lesion.
Prof. Frusci, having become suspicious regarding the nature of this newest ailment, discovered some Koch bacilli, proof of the tubercular nature of the lesion.
The Professors Fazio, D’Ambrosio and Cacciapuoti confirmed the diagnosis of tubercular pleurisy: recognizing the gravity of the illness, they all advised a return to my native town, for it seemed easier for me to accept death with my relatives close by.
Having arrived in Policastro, the disease did not delay in spreading to the lungs; and a fatal bronchial-alveolitis was the natural consequence of the tubercular pleurisy.
Fever, cough, sputum, haemoptysis, bedsores, extreme loss of weight, all foretold my approaching inevitable end.
I could not fool myself, being a doctor, so tried to find the serenity needed in such moments: I prepared myself for death which was close at hand. Doctor Fatigati turned to my wife and said,
“Mrs. Mangia, I must painfully confess that there is no longer any hope of recovery for your husband.”
“Doctor Mangia already has one foot in the grave,” Doctor Pugliese sadly reported to the Rev. Rector of the Diocesan Seminary, Fr. Tommaso Granata…
My companion in studies, Doctor Gregorio Falconi, publicly announced to various friends:
“All the resources of science have been exhausted, death is certain.”
The Most Excellent Bishop of this Diocese, Msgr. Giuseppe Maria Cione, paid me a visit, and today I still remember with gratitude his comforting, divine words.
Finally Doctor Furiasi said to my mother:
“Mrs. Mangia, you must get used to the idea of losing him.”
January 12th arrived. My cheeks had become cyanotic, my lips livid, my eyes assumed a stony expression, breathing was difficult; the agony was advancing in giant steps.
All my relatives were gathered around my bed. In a whisper, in the magazine Il Rosario e la Nuova Pompei, my sister was reading about the favours granted by the Virgin of the Rosary of Pompeii. I was contemplating her image, and every so often kissed the blessed roses of this universal Shrine.
How incredible! In a flash all of my sufferings ceased.
The clock was striking 1pm on that same day; the fever, the sputum, the cough, everything vanished quite suddenly. Immediately everyone shouted “a miracle!”, being unable to explain by means of human reason my instantaneous recovery from a disease declared incurable, and which had already brought me to the edge of the grave.
For my part, I wanted to allow a year to pass before announcing the above-mentioned miracle accomplished by the Most Blessed Virgin of the Rosary of Pompeii, so that no one, seeing me now alive, well and as healthy as before, could oppose the evidence. Furthermore, this luminous truth has been confirmed by the citing of many illustrious names, persons whom I invite to deny, if they can, that the facts are as I have reported them.
From Policastro Bussentino (Salerno), written and signed in my own hand.
24 August 1890
DOCTOR VINCENZO MANGIA”
(From the publication IL ROSARIO E LA NUOVA POMPEI, Year VII, 1890)
A Friend of Blessed Bartolo Longo