I am happy to be back with you by means of the Catholic Daily Message after a wonderful vacation trip with friends. In the days ahead, I will tell you about our trip, and today I want to begin by pointing out to you that we missed the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary this year because it is celebrated on October 7 ordinarily, and that date, which was yesterday, fell on a Sunday and was therefore superceded by the Sunday celebration.
However, as a Dominican, I can’t let this year go by without a celebration of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary—particularly this year when our cloistered Dominican nuns are celebrating the 800th anniversary of their establishment by Saint Dominic. So I celebrated the votive Mass of Our Lady of the Rosary this morning with my sisters here in this monastery, and want to talk to you about one particular moment of our trip.
On our way from the Italian city of Gaeta, a port on the west side of the boot-shaped peninsula, to the justly famous resort of Sorrento, on the bay of Naples, we stopped in the city of Pompeii to visit the tremendous and very impressive sanctuary of Our Lady of the Rosary, brought into being primarily through the efforts of Blessed Bartolo Longo. Most of us know little or nothing about him, but he was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1980, when the Holy Father called him “the man of the Rosary.” Bartolo Longo was a successful lawyer chosen by Our Lady to propagate devotion to her and her Rosary. He was raised by devout Catholic parents in the Naples area, but in the years of his young manhood, he fell victim to the rationalism and liberalism of the mid-19th century. He went so far as to become a member of a satanic cult, and even serve as a priest of that occult religion, opposed to Our Lord Jesus Christ. However, divine grace called him back to his Catholic faith, and he began to receive the Sacraments again, became a member of the Dominican Laity, and devoted himself to the propagation of the Rosary in reparation for his sins of apostasy, paganism, and even satanism.
The result of his remarkable conversion stands in the city of the new Pompeii today: a beautiful basilica enshrining his body and the Rosary sanctuary— the greatest in the world. Beside the ruins of the pagan city of old Pompeii, totally destroyed by Vesuvius’s eruption in the year 79 A.D., there has risen the new Pompeii principally because of Blessed Bartolo’s choice of that place as the locale of his shrine.
If you would like more information about this new blessed of ours and the great shrine that he brought into being, I suggest that you look in the internet under “Blessed Bartolo Longo.” You will find much useful information there. Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.
Note: This message was composed some years ago.