Pompeii, Italy: Our Lady of Pompeii and Blessed Bartolo Longo
Located about 15 miles South of Naples, Pompeii is known throughout the world for the well-preserved ruins dating from the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. Pompeii is also the site of the Shrine dedicated to Our Lady of Pompeii, or Our Lady of the Rosary.
The story of this shrine is that of a man named Bartolo Longo, a lawyer from the area and, although baptized Catholic, had fallen away from the faith and fell under the influence of two radical former priests while attending University who had very strong anti-Christian doctrines (does that sound a bit familiar?). He became quite an enemy of the Catholic Church, and actually became a Satanic priest.
Then, through the efforts–and the example–of his friends (one a professor and one a Dominican Priest), by 1865 he came back to the Faith with a renewed zeal. By 1871, he had turned full circle and became a Third Order Dominican, taking the name of Brother Rosario in honor of the Rosary.
He received his law degree in Naples in 1864 but later gave up his legal career and devoted himself to charitable activities. In that time, Countess Marianna de Fusco entrusted to him the administration of her property. On a visit to Pompeii on her behalf, Bartolo was distressed to see that the church building in the town was practically falling down, but worse yet most of the local population did not practice their faith and chose to work or play on Sundays rather than attend Mass (sounds familiar).
Having a great devotion to the Rosary, he placed an image of Our Lady of the Rosary in the church and soon there were reports of miracles from those who visited there. Bartolo Longo took this as a sign that Our Lady wanted a shrine built here and began to seek contributions from the local populace. The Church was begun in 1876 and also included a school, workshop, orphanage and social center.
The Basilica included life-size statues of some of the people who have made pilgrimages to the shrine, including Saint Francis Xavier Cabrini (Mother Cabrini) who visited here to give thanks for a safe arrival after a rough sea voyage.
Pope John Paul II visited here as a pilgrim in 1979 and Beatified Bartolo Longo in Rome on October 26, 1980.
We celebrate his Feast Day on October 5th. Thousands visit the Basilica every day.
Traveling to the Basilica of Our Lady of Pompei:
The Basilica stands out notably in the center of town and can be reached by train car, bus or taxi from Naples. Get train & bus schedules, see fares & buy tickets here.
And Pompeii itself is a popular port of call on many cruises as well as secular tours.
Address: Piazza Bartolo Longo, 1, 80045 Pompei NA, Italy
GPS coordinates: 40° 44′ 59.2548” N, 14° 30′ 2.4624” E
Tel: (+39) 081 857 7111 (+39) 081 857 7258
e-mail: [email protected]
Click here for the official website of Our Lady of Pompeii in Naples.
There is also a Shrine of Our Lady of Pompeii in Chicago, Illinois.
1. Daniel M. Madden, A Religious Guide to Europe, Collier Books, 1975.
2. Pasquale Mocerino, The Blessed Bartolo Longo, Editions of the Shrine of Pompeii, printed 2006.
3. Photos courtesy Wikimedia and Our Lady of Pompeii Shrine