Blessed Bartolo Longo
Blessed Bartolo Longo was born in Latiano, Italy, in 1841 and studied law at the University of Naples. He strayed from the faith for a short period and returned to it thanks to the efforts of a learned Dominican, Friar Alberto Radente. The friar gave him a thorough instruction in theology and professed him into the Third Order of St. Dominic giving him the name of Fratel Rosario, Brother Rosary. The young lawyer was destined to become one of the greatest modern apostles of the rosary.
In 1872 Bartolo went to the valley of Pompeii to establish legal title to properties inherited by the countess Marianna De Fusco after the death of her husband. In 1885 the two were married. The valley visited by the lawyer was a desolate wasteland inhabited by a few scattered peasants and infested by wild animals and brigands. The moral and spiritual abandonment of the poor peasants so touched his heart that he fell to his knees and vowed to Our Lady that he would sacrifice his life for their salvation. His subsequent life was the fulfillment of that vow and a demonstration of the miraculous power of the holy rosary.
With the cooperation of influential friends in Naples, he undertook the evangelization of the valley, going from house to house distributing medals, holy pictures, scapulars, catechisms and instructing the poor peasants in the knowledge and power of the rosary. Urged on by the local bishop, he constructed a small rosary chapel which today has become the great basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary of Pompeii.
Our Lady assisted powerfully in the construction of the shrine by granting graces and favors to benefactors of the enterprise. By 1885 some 940 cures were recorded and described in Blessed Bartolo’s history of the shrine. This holy layman won great acclaim as the Father of Orphans. He provided thousands of abandoned orphan children with a loving home in a complex of buildings at the shrine known as the City of Charity. He died in Pompeii, October 5, 1926.
At the request of Pope Pius XI, Bartolo Longo was invested with the insignia of Knight Grand Cross of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, in the Holy Year of 1925, by Patriarch Barlassina, of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem. He is here shown wearing the Cape of the Order. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II on October 26, 1980.
Prayer for the canonization of Blessed Bartolo Longo
God, Father of mercy, we praise you for having given Blessed Bartolo Longo to human history, ardent apostle of the Rosary and shining example of a layman engaged in the evangelical witness of faith and charity.
We thank you for his extraordinary spiritual journey, his prophetic insights, his tireless efforts for the least and the marginalized, the dedication with which he filially served your Church and built the new city of love in Pompeii.
We pray that Blessed Bartolo Longo will soon be counted among the Saints of the universal Church, so that everyone can follow him as a model of life and seek his intercession.