Is Anybody There?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says Yahweh Sabaoth" Zach 4:6 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dio di Signore, nella Sua volontà è nostra pace!" . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." Ben Franklin 1759

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Buona Festa di Beato Bartolo Longo

Today is the feast of Blessed Bartolo Longo. He was the founder of the Shrine of Our Lady of the Rosary in Pompei, Italia. I have mentioned him in relation to the shrine as well as told his story before. But I feel it bears repeating on this his feast day.
Bartolo Longo was born into a wealthy family on 10February 1841 in the small town of Latiano, near Brindisi, in southern Italy. His father was Bartolomeo, a physician, & his mother was Antonia Luparelli. His parents were devout Roman Catholics They had him baptized 3 days after his birth. His parents cultivated a deep love for Mary in him & his siblings & taught them to pray the Rosary daily. His mother died in 1851. As time went on he began to drift away from the Catholic faith. & in what is so often just as true today, his time at college totally lead him away from the faith. One of the worst influences was an a fallen-away priest who taught philosophy. Soon Bartolo was following his example & spewing hatefilled attacks on the Catholic Church.
His rejection of the faith left a gap in his life that he needed to fill. Soon he fell in with a group of students who lead him into a Satinist cult. He soon became so involved that he eventually ordained a priest of that cult. He was very active in seances as well. But none of this brought him any peace. Neither did it fill the gap that abandoning his faith left. Soon both his physical & mental health deteriorated. He had terrible visions of demons. All this eventually lead to a mental breakdown.
He graduated with a law degree in 1864. But things, as I said, just got worse & worse. Finally, in 1871 he turned to an old friend, Professor Vincenzo Pepe. Pepe told Bartolo that he needed to get out of Satanism & the occult. He introduced Bartolo to the Dominican Father Alberto Radente. God worked through this priest to help Bartolo out of Satanism & back into the Catholic Church.
Eventually Bartolo grew back into his faith & became a 3rd Order Dominican. he took the name Brother Rosario.
I suppose that at this point I should add that Bartolo's family never gave up on him. rather they continually bombarded Heaven with prayers for his conversion from Satanism & to return to the faith.
Under the guidance of Fr. Radente Bartolo began repair the damage he did. Among those things were attending 1 last seance where he raising a medal of Mother Mary & cried out, "I renounce spiritism because it is nothing but a maze of error and falsehood." He bagan going to parties & cafes where he shared his story with the young people there. His witnessing lead to many conversions. But he felt there was more for him to do.
He began joining a group of friends in caring for the poor, sick, & needy. One of this pious group was the wealthy widow Countess Mariana di Fusco. He ended up atPompeii, being sent by the Countess to collect her rents & administer her property. There he saw the horrible conditions of the peasants. They suffered from grinding poverty. He saw the ignorance, lack of faith, superstition, poverty, & moral corruption of the people. The aging priest in a decaying church rarely saw any parishioners. he began to doubt he could do any good there.
Satan, sensing his doubts, saw this as an opportunity to win him back. He later shared what then happenned.
"One day in the fields around Pompeii called Arpaia. . .1 recalled my former condition as a priest of Satan. Father Alberto had told me repeatedly never again to think of, or reflect on (this), but I thought that perhaps as the priesthood of Christ is for eternity, so also the priesthood of Satan is for eternity.
So, despite my repentance, I thought: I am still consecrated to Satan, and I am still his slave and property as he awaits me in Hell. As I pondered over my condition, I experienced a deep sense of despair and almost committed suicide. Then I heard an echo in my ear of the voice of Friar Alberto repeating the words of the Blessed Virgin Mary: 'One who propagates my Rosary shall be saved.' These words certainly brought an illumination to my soul. Falling to my knees, I exclaimed: 'If your words are true that he who propagates your Rosary will be saved, I shall reach salvation because I shall not leave this earth without propagating your Rosary.' At that moment the little bell of the parish church rang out, inviting the people to pray the Angelus. This incident was like a signature to my firm decision.
Bartolo began to catechise the peasants. As he spread the message & encouraged devotion to the Rosary it began to have an effect. he helped to restore the church he found in decay. At the suggestion of the Bishop of Nola, he began to erect a new church dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary. It was dedicated in 1887, given to the papacy on 19 February 1894, was designated a basilica in 1901 by Pope Leo XIII. & this was only the start of the works God did through Blessed Bartolo. They are way to many to mention them all here. You can read more in his bio at the shrine website. But I would like to share a couple of them.
In 1875, at the end of a retreat he promised to provide an image of Our Lady of the Rosary. The image arrived 13 November 1875. It arrived in poor condition & was carried to Pompeii on a cart full of manure. It was restored. On 13 February, the day it was unveiled, the 1st of many miracles happened by the intercession of Our Lady of Pompeii, 12yearold Clorinda Lucarelli, which was considered incurable by doctors, was perfectly cured by terrible epileptic convulsions. You can read more of the story of the painting here.
His work in helping the poor, spreading devotion to the Rosary & all his other works to glorify God were naturally displeasing to Bartolo's former master, Satan. Bartolo had been helped in his work by the Countess Mariana. Soon gossip began spreading about the relationship between the 2 of them. Unwilling to let Satan destroy God's work by any scandal, they consulted their friend Pope Leo XIII, a great devotee of the Rosary. he told them: "Lawyer, you are free; Countess, you are a widow; get married and no one can say anything against you." They were married on 7 April 1885. Since Bartolo had taken a vow of chastity, they remained in a chaste union. The couple continued their charitable works until the Countess's death on 9 February 1924.
but this wasn't the last attempt on the part of Satan to destroy God's work. In the early 1900s accusations began spreading that he was mishandling funds of the various works he was running. He was cleared of all charges. Pope St. Pius IX suggested Bartolo retire as administrator. bartolo gladly did so turning control of everything over to the Papacy, including his own property. Instead he worked as a humble employee. He was made a Knight of the Guard Cross of the Holy Sepulcher in 1925.
He died of pneumonia on 5 October 1926. As he was dying he prayed the Rosary, surrounded by the orphans whom he so loved. With his final breath he said: "My only desire is to see Mary, who has saved me and who will save me from the clutches of Satan." He was buried in the crypt of the Rosary Basilica alongside his wife Mariana.
Pope Paul VI declared him venerable on 3 October 1975. he was declared blessed by Pope John Paul II on 26 October 1980. God willing, there will soon be a 2nd miracle confirmed so that he will be declared a saint.

Prayer for the canonization of Blessed Bartolo Longo

God, Father of mercy, *we praise you
for having sent into the history of humankind
the Blessed Bartolo Longo,*
ardent apostle of the Rosary*
and shining example*
of a layman deeply involved
in the evangelical witnessing
of faith and of charity.
We thank you for his extraordinary spiritual journey,*
his prophetic intuitions,*
his tireless endeavours on behalf of the poorest and the neglected,*
the devotion with which he served your Church *
and built the new city of love at Pompeii.
We beseech you, grant that Blessed Bartolo Longo*
soon be numbered among the Saints
of the universal Church,*
so that everyone may follow him as a model of life*
and benefit by his intercession.


Prayer to Blessed Bartolo Longo

Oh Blessed Bartolo Longo,
you who loved Mary with the tenderness of a son
and who spread devotion by the reciting of the Holy Rosary
and through her intercession received superabundant grace
to love and serve Christ through service to abandoned children,
obtain for us the grace to live in the spirit of prayer united to God,
to love him, as you did, through our brothers.
You, who at the end of your earthly journey
declared never having tired of praying
for every pain, for every hardship, for every calamity,
trusting in the omnipotence of God
and in the intercession of His Divine Mother,
continue to intercede for those who are called
to continue your work of faith and love at Pompeii
and for all the Rosarians of the world.
Pray for us that we, after the earthly contemplation
of the joyful and sorrowful Mysteries,
can with you share the joy of the glorious Mysteries in heaven with Mary,
Queen of the angels and of the Saints.




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