This 5 October we remember the 90 years since the death of Blessed Bartolo Longo, member of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre, apostle of the Rosary and witness to Divine Mercy.
Born on February 10, 1841 at Latiano, near Lecce, in the region of Apulia, in Italy, he grew up in a Christian family, but drew distant from the Church during his studies in Law in Naples, becoming an anticlerical militant and supporter of Spiritualism. As a lawyer, Bartolo Longo then suffered a profound spiritual crisis during which he was helped notably by his friend Professor Vincenzo Pepe, and also by a Religious Dominican, Fr Alberto Radente.
After a remarkable confession, he re-made his ‘first holy communion’, on June 23, 1865. Assiduously attending the Eucharist, he met Caterina Volpicelli, a Napoli promoter of the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, who was beatified in 2001. She introduced him to Countess Albenzio De Fusco, widow and owner of lands in the valley of Pompeii, who would later become his wife in 1885.
Discovering the state of spiritual desolation in the valley of Pompeii, where he administratively assisted the Countess, he decided to strive towards the social and humanitarian promotion of its inhabitants, and towards evangelisation.
All whilst circulating the prayer of the rosary, Bartolo Longo opened a girls’ orphanage and founded a community of Religious women, the Daughters of the Holy Rosary of Pompeii, present up to Indonesia. A fellowship of the Rosary was developed also under his impetus, as well as a newsletter still widely published, The Rosary of the New Pompeii, which he personally managed.
A Marian Shrine was built – consecrated in 1891 and dedicated to prayer for peace in the world – near the ruins of the ancient city destroyed by Vesuvius. Pompeii became not only the town of Mary and of the faith, but also the town of love with numerous works of charity, such as educational centres for the children of prisoners. On September 12, 1906, Bartolo Longo gave all his projects to the Holy See, including the shrine which was then confided to a pontifical delegate.
The Pope made the Good Samaritan of Pompeii a Knight of the Holy Sepulchre, in recognition of his action in the service of the most disadvantaged, in which he saw the suffering Christ.
He died on October 5, 1926 and was proclaimed Blessed by St John-Paul II on October 26, 1980.
He is a model of Christian life, of humility and of selflessness, for all members of the Order who invoke his name often, pleading for his intercession, notably through the prayer for his canonisation.
Prayer for the canonisation of Blessed Bartolo Longo
God, Father of Mercy, we praise you for having given to the history of mankind Blessed Bartolo Longo, ardent apostle of the rosary and luminous example of layman committed to the evangelical testimony of Faith and Charity.
We thank you for his extraordinary spiritual path, his prophetic intuitions, his untiring attentiveness towards the least and the marginalised, the devotion with which he served your Church as a true son and constructed the new town of love in Pompeii.
We ask of you, to grant that Blessed Bartolo Longo may soon be counted amongst the saints of the Universal Church, so that all might follow him as a model and benefit from his intercession. Through Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen.
To testify to any graces received, write to:
Sanctuary of Pompeii - Piazza Bartolo Longo, 1 - 80045 Pompei (NA) - Italia