Pompeii is a city in southern Italy, world famous for two reasons: the archaeological excavations and the Shrine dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary. The latter is celebrating a year (October 2022- 2023) dedicated to the memory of Blessed Bartolo Longo on the 150th anniversary of when he felt in his heart the call to spread devotion to the Rosary. From there, he began building the Shrine and social structures to help the most needy.
The Redemptorists played an essential role in this Shrine’s history and Blessed Bartolo Longo’s spiritual journey. In his youth, Bartolo Longo was a lawyer who had lived far from God, taking strong anticlerical positions and falling into Satanism and immorality. His encounter with some men of God’s Spirit put him back on the right path: the Venerable Fr. Emmanuele Ribera CSsR was one of them. The road of the Redemptorists and the Shrine came together again when other Servants of God and sons of St. Alphonsus, such as Fr. Antonio Losito CSsR and Fr. Giuseppe Leone CSsR, were for years spiritual directors of the lawyer Bartolo and his wife, Countess Marianna De Fusco. And even later, when for half a century, the Redemptorists acted as penitentiaries and administrators of the sacrament of penance at the Sanctuary, the destination of ever more numerous pilgrimages.
For these reasons, among the events organised during this celebratory year, there was one dedicated to the Redemptorist Missionaries. It took place on Friday, 17 March 2023, with three highlights.
The first was the speech by Professor Alfonso Amarante, CSsR, preside of the Alphonsian Academy, on the Sacrament of Reconciliation today in the footsteps of St Alphonsus. Then, there was the solemn recitation of the Rosary in the Basilica. Finally, Fr Serafino Fiore, CSsR, Provincial Superior of Naples, presided over the eucharistic concelebration.
Numerous people of God, especially lay people, participated in these moments, which were opened by a cordial greeting from the Bishop of Pompeii, Bishop Tommaso Caputo.
For the many who experienced this event composed of formation and prayer, it was a valuable occasion to recognise the extraordinary legacy of Alfonsi’s magisterium on morality and conscience. At the same time, they could understand how proclaiming mercy is urgent today in this Church and this world.
Fr Serafino Fiore CSsR
(photo by Fr. Luciano Panella CSsR and Fausto De Caro)