In 2015, Pope Francis, like some of his predecessors, visited the ancient city of Pompeii in Southern Italy: not to visit the ruins buried by the ashes of Mount Vesuvius, but to extoll the wonders of the Marian Shrine of Our Lady of the Rosary, founded in the XIX century by a former Satanist “priest,” now on his way to sainthood.
Blessed Bartolo Longo is regarded as the founder of modern Pompeii, a town that grew East of the famous ruins in 1891, after he commissioned the building of the city’s shrine of the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Holy Rosary.
The shrine is home to a miraculous image of Our Lady of the Rosary, which was given to Longo by his confessor, Father Alberto Radente, in 1875.
Originally born into a devout Roman Catholic family, Longo fell away from his faith while studying law in Naples in the 1860s – a time when the Catholic Church faced opposition from a nationalist movement fighting for Italian unification, and which viewed the then Papal States and the Pope himself as an antagonist to their cause. Most of the main leaders of the “Unification” movement were Free Masons and held strong anti-Catholic ideas.
The Catholic Church was also fighting against the growing popularity of involvement in the Occult, which at that time had a strong presence in Naples.
Longo himself became involved in a Satanist cult, and eventually claimed to have been “ordained” as a Satanist “priest.”
However, after struggling with anxiety and depression, at times even suicidal thoughts, over the next few years, a university professor from his hometown urged Longo to abandon Satanism and introduced him to his future confessor, Fr. Radente.
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