Today, Sunday 8 May 2022, is the feast day of Our Lady of Pompeii. As a city, Pompeii seems to be related to a tragic end. From a city of prosperity this Roman city, being near Naplaes in the region of Campania, ended up being destroyed by that horrific volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. Furthermore, the city that emerged from the ruins was also subjected to tragedy. In fact, the latter was severly damaged by a widespread malaria epidemic in 1659.
Amid this ruinous state, God wanted this that something most beautiful might come along in Pompeii. In 1841 Bartolo Longo, who experienced a great conversion in his life, was boron in Laziano Italy. In 1871, after undergoing a conversion experience, Bartolo Long, the son of a doctor and a devout Catholic mother, became a member a Third Order Dominican. He took the name of Rosario.
His great love for Our Lady made him a great promoter of the Rosary. When he came to Pompeii in 1872, being shocked at the misery he saw around, Bartolo Longo became disheartened. However, while walking through the parish on October 9 he heard a voice urging him: “If you seek salvation, promulgate the rosary. This is Mary’s own promise.” Upon hearing this great heavenly invitation he promised to Our Lady to do everything possible to promote devotion to the Rosary among the people of this area which was dominated by ignorance, poverty and lack of religion.
For this purpose, Bartolo organized rosary festivals with games, races, as well as a lottery to attract the people. Slowly slowly, in 1873, he started restoring a dilapidated church in October of 1873 and sponsored a festival in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary. Two years after, in 1875, Longo achieved a well-worn painting of Our Lady of the Rosary from a convent in Naples and raised funds to have the image restored so as to put it in the church. The story goes that a young Neapolitan girl, a certain Fortuna Agrelli, who was suffering from a very painful and incurable disease, started a novena of rosaries, started on February 16, 1884 by her and her relatives. Simultaneously, the Queen of the Holy Rosary appeared to her March 3rd. In the apparition, Fortuna saw Mary, sitting upon a high throne, surrounded by luminous figures, held the Divine Child on her lap, whilst in her hand she had a rosary. The Virgin Mother and the Holy Infant were clad in gold-embroidered garments. They were accompanied by St. Dominic and St. Catherine of Siena.
Completely amazed at the beauty of Mary, Fortuna asked her as “Queen of the Rosary” for her to be cured. Mary replied that, since she had told her that since she called her by a title that was so pleasing to her, she could not reject her prayer. As a matter of fact, Mary told her to pray three rosary novenas to get the grace she had asked for. Immediately, the child was cured, and soon after Mary appeared to her again, saying: Whosoever desires to obtain favors from me should make three novenas of the prayers of the rosary in petition and three novenas in thanksgiving.” This is the genesis of the Rosary Novena devotion to Mary.
In the year 1883, a sanctuary was erected to house the image of Mary. It was consecrated in 1891. Numerous are the miracles associated to the intercession of Our Lady of Pompei. The image of Our Lady of Pompei shows Our Lady of the Rosary as Queen of Heaven. She and her Son, Jesus, are giving rosaries to Saint Dominic and Saint Catherine of Siena. The Pompei portrait comes from the Eastern icon style of the 6th century. On October 21, 1979, Pope John Paul II visited Pompei. The gathering was a national pilgrimage to Our Lady of Pompei. On October 26, 1980, St Pope John Paul II beatified Bartolo Longo and referred to him as the Man of the Rosary and the Apostle of the Rosary.
Let us today pray the following Supplica (Petitition) Prayer to the Virgin of the Rosary of Pompeii. This Supplica is prayed on 8th May and the first Sunday of October.
PETITION TO THE VIRGIN OF THE ROSARY OF POMPEII (“Supplica”)
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
O August Queen of Victories, O Sovereign of Heaven and Earth, at whose name the heavens rejoice and the abyss trembles. O Glorious Queen of the Rosary, we, your devoted children, assembled (on this solemn day*) in your Temple of Pompeii, pour out the affection of our hearts and with filial confidence express our miseries to You.
From the Throne of clemency on which You are seated as Queen, turn, O Mary, your merciful gaze on us, on our families, on Italy, on Europe and on the whole world. Have compassion on the worries and trials which embitter our lives. See, O Mother, how many physical and spiritual dangers and how many calamities and afflictions press upon us.
O Mother, implore the mercy of your Divine Son for us and conquer the hearts of sinners with your benevolence. They are our brothers and your children who cause the heart of our sweet Jesus to bleed and sadden your sensitive Heart. Show us all what You are, the Queen of Peace and of Pardon.
It is true that, although we are your children, with our sins we are the first to crucify Jesus again in our hearts and pierce your heart anew.
We confess that we deserve the most severe punishments, but remember that on Golgotha You received, with the Divine Blood, the testament of the dying Saviour, who declared You our Mother, the Mother of sinners. You then, as our Mother, are our Advocate, our Hope. And we raise our pleading hands to You with sighs crying, “Mercy!”.
O good Mother, have pity on us, on our souls, on our families, on our relatives, on our friends, on our deceased, especially on our enemies, and on so many who call themselves Christian and yet offend the Heart of your loving Son. We implore mercy for today’s misguided Nations, for all Europe, for the whole world, so that, repentant, they may return to your Heart.
Have mercy on us all, O Mother of Mercy!
Deign kindly to hear us, O Mary! Jesus has placed in your hands all the treasures of His Grace and His Mercy.
You are seated crowned Queen at the right hand of your Son, resplendent with immortal glory above all Choirs of Angels. You extend your dominion throughout heavens, and earth and all creatures are subject to You.
You are omnipotent by grace and therefore You can help us. Were You not willing to help us because we are ungrateful children and undeserving of your protection, we would not know to whom to turn.
Your Mother’s heart would not allow seeing us, your children, lost. The Infant whom You hold on your lap and the mystical Rosary which we gaze at your hand, inspire confidence in us that You shall hear us. We confide totally in You and abandon ourselves to You, like helpless children into the arms of the tenderest of mothers, and on this very day, we expect from You the longed-for graces.
Let us ask for Mary’s blessing.
One last favour we ask of You, O Queen, which You cannot deny us (on this very solemn day*). Grant us all your steadfast love and in a special way your maternal blessing.
We shall not leave You until You have blessed us.
Bless, O Mary, at this moment, our Holy Father. To the ancient splendours of your Crown, to the triumphs of your Rosary, whence You are called Queen of Victories, add also this, O Mother: grant the victory of the Faith and give Peace to human Society. Bless our Bishops, Priests and particularly those who work zealously to give honour to your Shrine. Finally, bless all those who are associated with your Temple of Pompeii and all those who cultivate and promote the devotion of the Holy Rosary.
O Blessed Rosary of Mary, sweet Chain which binds us to God, Bond of love which unites us to the Angels, Tower of salvation against the assaults of hell, safe Haven in the universal shipwreck, we shall never abandon You.
You will be our comfort in the hour of agony. For You is the last kiss of our dying life. And the last word on our lips will be your sweet name, O Queen of the Rosary of Pompeii, O Dearest Mother, O Refuge of Sinners, O Sovereign Consoler of the Afflicted. May You be blessed everywhere, on Earth and in Heaven, today and forever. Amen.
Hail, Holy Queen…
Fr Mario Attard OFM Cap