Dear Saint Mary Friends,
October is the Month of the Holy Rosary, so in last week’s Newsletter we looked at the importance of Mary and the Rosary in the Battle of Lepanto. This week let’s look at a man whose Feast Day we celebrated on October 5. Blessed Bartolo Longo, the “Saint of the Rosary.” He’s one in a long line of men and women who were anything but saints in their early lives – but as Mary said to Elizabeth at the Visitation, “Nothing will be impossible for God.”
Bartolo is a sobering example of what can happen when God, the true God, is replaced by lesser things. Those things then become “gods” and a replacement religion because as St. Augustine says, our hearts are made for God, and if they are not filled with God’s Spirit and the love of God they will be filled with lesser and often harmful things. We can see this strikingly today.
Bartolo was studying Law at the University of Naples, getting caught up in Italian politics as supreme over Faith and Church. The Church was an enemy of the State. Later he would write, “I grew to hate monks, priests and the Pope, and in particular [I detested] the Dominicans, the most formidable, furious opponents of those great modern professors, proclaimed by the university the sons of progress, the defenders of science, the champions of every sort of freedom.” Sound familiar?
Furthermore, in his rejection of faith, and seeking to fill that “God-sized hole” in his heart, he took to the occult and spiritualism – eventually leading to him being ordained a satanic priest! Depressions, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts followed. The rest of his story is the slow journey to faith, healing, and a strong devotion to Our Lady and her Rosary. In fact, Pope St. John Paul II said that his inspiration to add the luminous mysteries to the Rosary were inspired by Longo. The holy Father loved in particular, this prayer of Longo’s.