Bartolo Longo was born in 1841 to a devout Catholic family. When Bartolo grew up he decided to study law. Naples at that time was undergoing a tremendous spiritual crisis. Paganism and Satanism of all sorts were abounding. Bartolo was not immune to these influences and became a satanic priest, much to the chagrin of his family who tried their hardest to get him to convert.
As Satanism began to torment his mind, his family convinced him to make a good confession. Alberto Radente, a saintly Dominican priest, helped lead him back to the catholic faith and encouraged his devotion to the rosary. Bartolo had a miraculous conversion and In 1870, he became a third order Dominican and chose to live a life in penance for all the terrible sins he had committed against the church.
One day, he nearly succumbed to the sin of despair, feeling that God could never forgive the tremendous sins he had committed against the church. At that moment he received divine inspiration and remembered The Blessed Virgin’s promise that she would help in all their necessities those who propagate her rosary.
He set out to restore the dilapidated chapel at Pompeii and promote the rosary to whoever would listen. Pamphlets about the rosary were distributed to help the people learn to pray this powerful devotion. He tried to find an image of Our Lady of the Rosary worthy of hanging in the chapel, but was only offered a worm-eaten painting with an image that he felt was coarse and not worthy of veneration, however he accepted it from the convent in which it was stored.
As Bartolo continued his work of propagating the rosary, the chapel’s membership grew tremendously and many miracles began to be associated with Our Lady of Pompeii. Cures and spiritual conversions occurred due to the devotions through this new shrine. The people pledged their support to have a large church built that would properly honor Our Lady of the Rosary.
In 1894, Bartolo and his wife gave the church over to the care of the Vatican. The original image found in the convent was restored for the last time in 1965 and Pope Paul VI crowned the heads of Jesus and Mary with diadems given by the people of Pompeii. On October 26, 1980, Bartolo Longo was beatified by John Paul II who called him 'the man of the Madonna' and the 'Apostle of the Rosary'.
Pray the rosary to receive Our Holy Mother's heavenly aid in saving souls!