Seldom in history do we find a Shrine and a village that owes its existence to one man and his dream. As unique as this is, rarer still is a Sanctuary village with the ancient heritage of pre-Christ Pompeii. As this book is about Our Lady and the miracles that came about through her intercession, you will see how She played an integral part in guiding one man to build Her Shrine, a Sanctuary where the needy could come, with their cares and worries and She would answer them. But before we go into the wonders of Our Lady of Pompeii, we must delve into the heart and soul of one man, a knight who loved His Lady and wanted to do Her honor.
Where you find the extraordinary, you will find the Holy Spirit guiding the way. And so it was with Blessed Bartolo Longo, who was in the Hands of the Spirit in his personal life, as well as the founder of one of the most famous and visited Sanctuaries in the history of the Church, especially by Italians and pilgrims from all over the world.
As we seek him, we find him being guided by the Holy Spirit. His biographer says of him: “Bartolo Longo was guided by the Spirit as much through the desert as the rich harvest, and through the dark night as in the radiant midday light. He was conscious of this adventure and he wanted to live it to the full.” He wanted to live it to the full! But living it to the full, not even he realized how far he would go. Before the consecration of the new church, in 1891, he wrote:
“For fifteen years we were continually astonished by the phenomenon that was occurring inside of us without clearly understanding its laws or the nature and force of its purpose. What was that secret impulse, persistent and untiring, that for so many years had driven us to build this church?”
(Author’s Note) It reminds us of our Holy Family Mission and the replica of the Holy House we built in Arkansas. For eleven years we searched and searched for the right place to build our center of evangelization and finally there it was not of our choice but that of God; but like with Bartolo Longo, it was not to be accomplished without blood, sweat and tears spilling onto the pages telling our story.
Bartolo Longo – from Satanist to Saint
But first, let us speak of the man through which this all came about. Bartolo Longo was born in Latiano (Brindisi) on February the 10th, 1841 to Dr. Bartolomeo Longo and Antonina Luparelli. His parents were well-to-do, which would enable him to receive a fine education. As they were devout Catholics, most especially his mother, he and his siblings grew up with a deep love for Mary. The Rosary was implanted in Bartolo’s heart, as a youth, as his family prayed the Rosary together, every evening, meditating on the Life of Jesus and Mary. From his earliest years, one could see the characteristics which would catapult him into greatness. He was charismatic. He excelled in every thing he endeavored. He fared well in his studies. Exposed to music at an early age, he loved to play the piano and the flute, even becoming the conductor of the school band.
But his parents’ influence would not be always with him. The time came when he would enter the university! As is true in many universities, down through the ages, Bartolo was bombarded with deadly liberal, atheistic, anti-Christian heretical courses, especially in a philosophy class given by a fallen-away Priest. Subsequently, Bartolo fell into the trap and began his sad walk away from the Catholic Church. He was so completely taken in by his professor and all the hate he was spewing against the Faith, Bartolo too began to rant and rave against the Church.
But his heart was always seeking the Divine. The ex-priest took away his anchor in the storm and of need, he found another. Only this one would help him to sink into the mire of decadence. Falling in with students who were deeply involved with the occult, he too began to delve into mysticism with his fellow cultists, attending séances. He got so involved, not being a half-measure kind of person, he was ordained a Priest in a Satanic cult. As his cult attacked the Church, her Priests, Bishops and Religious, as well as the Holy Rites of the Church, he too piped in; and with all the charisma and training, he had received preparing him for a career in law, he was able to convince others to stray away from Jesus and His Church.
God waited patiently, but not allowing him to continue harming his soul and that of others, God, through the night and day praying of his mother for his soul, allowed Bartolo to fast so severely, he dangerously jeopardized his health. Not only his physical health, but his mental as well. He soon found himself sinking farther and farther into a deep depression. His exposure to the horrible rituals and practices he witnessed in the cult, so devastated him he suffered a mental breakdown. But only for a short period, as Jesus could not resist Bartolo’s mother’s pleas. Still away from Mother Church, he was close to despair, when he heard a voice resembling his deceased father’s voice calling to him: “Return to God! Return to God!”
The day finally came in Naples, when in 1864, Bartolo finally concluded his education, receiving a diploma to practice law, which he did in Naples until 1871. All the Rosaries said, all the supplications by his mother, Our Lady stepped in and sent him to Professor Vincente Pepe, a good friend who taught near Naples. When Bartolo shared his experiences and the rituals of the cult, the professor became so repulsed and enraged, his outburst stunned Bartolo. Desperately crying out for help, Bartolo admitted he was deeply troubled.Vincente introduced Bartolo to a Dominican Priest, well versed in the theology and philosophy of .St. Thomas Aquinas – Father Alberto Radente. By the grace of God and the intercession of Mother Mary, this dear Priest would serve as confessor and spiritual director, as well as friend to Bartolo. Father helped him to relinquish all ties with the Satanic cult, once and for all. He prepared him to receive the Sacraments by giving Bartolo an extensive course in the Faith. Jesus said, “This kind can be cast out in no way except by prayer and fasting.” God sent Bartolo a prayer warrior in Father Radente. He prayed and fasted for his young charge. I wonder if he knew how great would be the task this young man would undertake for the glory and honor of Jesus and Mary and succeed.
 referring to the Chapel in Pompeii, which he built
 You can read more about Bob and Penny Lord’s journey of faith in their autobiography – The Journey and the Dream
 In Italy and in many parts of the world, the wife maintains her single name, even unto death. You can see obituaries announcing the demise of a wife as: Maria Rossi, wife of Salvatore Penna (for example).
 Jesus and the Church
 Mk 9:29