Blessed Bartolo Longo: From Satanist to Saint

icon, mary, jesus, infant

icon, mary, jesus, infant

What could be a more fascinating tale than a satanic high priest becoming a saint? Blessed Bartolo Longo is such a story.  Born in Italy in 1841, Bartolo grew up in a very Catholic household, where the family said the Rosary regularly.  But his mother died when he was 10, and Bartolo’s life began its way downward. When he enrolled at the University of Naples as a young man, he was ripe for the new agers to confuse him and lead him astray. He soon started to attend séances and fortune telling “parties.”  And of course, there was the bait that always draws young men into this kind of thing, sex orgies.

Soon, Bartolo aspired to be a satanic priest, and he was ordained into the devil’s brigade as a high priest. The walls shook and there were strange voices and visions when the ordination took place. Bartolo fainted with sheer terror, and soon became very sick and was deeply tormented by the evil one. But the die was cast, so Bartolo was off to the races, performing blasphemous black masses and publicly ridiculing the Catholic faith in public. Many were drawn away from the faith of the saints as a result. Bartolo’s mind was becoming more and more twisted and confused as his belief in the false promises of Satanism took their toll.

The Internal Battle

However, in the meantime, what was left of Bartolo’s family was praying for his return to the faith. Like St. Monica praying for the conversion of her wayward son Augustine, his family never gave up on him. One day, Bartolo thought that he heard the voice of his dead father urging him to return to the Catholic Church.  Isn’t it wonderful how God uses our family members to save us, even when they are no longer here on earth?

So Bartolo decided to pay a visit to an old friend that he hadn’t seen in a while, Professor Vincenzo Pepe.  The good professor was shocked at the degraded appearance of his old friend, and asked a very good question of Bartolo:

“Do you want to die in an insane asylum, and then be damned forever?”

This question cut to his heart, and once he admitted that he was mentally confused, his friend took him in and started to deprogram Bartolo. Vincenzo introduced Bartolo to many great Catholics, including Fr. Alberto Radente, a Dominican priest, who catechized him and then heard his confession, thus allowing him to once again partake of Holy Communion.  On the feast of the Annunciation, at 30 years old, Bartolo became a Third Order Lay Dominican, and he took the name Brother Rosario, in honor of Mary’s Rosary.

But for sure, this was NOT the end of the story. Bartolo returned to a séance, held up a Miraculous Medal of Mary, and denounced the occult and spiritism as a maze of error and falsehood.  He would go to restaurants and parties and publicly proclaim the beauty and truth of Catholicism, while denouncing the devil’s religion that he had formerly embraced.  The Catholic Church was under attack by the popular culture of the late 19th century in Italy, so this was a very brave thing to do. But what we can take away from this evangelizing activity of Bartolo is that it’s never enough to just quit dabbling in the occult; in order to be completely free of it, one has to confess it, renounce it publicly, and push back against it, hard. Why? Because once Satan has his hooks in you, and he won’t let go easily, UNLESS you confess it, renounce it publicly, and then push back hard against it. Then and only then, will his satanic claws start to let go.

Fr. Radente told Bartolo that he had to repair the damage that he had caused to others with his former lifestyle (sin is never just a personal affair, but like a tsunami, it affects the whole body of Christ, violently).  So Bartolo set out to help others in need. He went to work for one Countess Mariana, collecting rent for her from her tenant farmers. When Bartolo saw the condition of the tenant farmers in Pompeii, he was in shock. No one had any faith. Everyone was corrupt. The priest in the local church rarely had anyone show up to Mass.  The farmers were even sleeping with their filthy animals.

The Power of the Rosary

Bartolo began to despair, and began to think that he was still damned.  The lesson here is that Satan, even though we are in good standing with the Church, will always attack our scrupulosity – sending us thoughts of doubt and despair. God allows this to strengthen us, and to spur us on to higher things. In Bartolo’s case, he gave the devil a stiff uppercut.  He remembered the words of a Friar:

“One who propagates the Rosary SHALL be saved.”  

He fell down on his knees, and began to think that promoting the Rosary was his calling in life. At that very moment, the church bells rang out for the Angelus, and Bartolo took that as heaven’s confirmation that this was indeed his new mission on earth!

So in Pompeii, the site of the horrible volcano so many centuries earlier, Bartolo began to teach the people the power of the Rosary. He initiated a yearly Rosary feast, and invited the priests to start preaching the Rosary. After all, he was a Dominican, and St. Dominic was the originator of the Holy Rosary back in the 13th Century!  He obtained a picture of the Lady of the Holy Rosary and used it to obtain several miracles of healing.  He built orphanages with the assistance of his former employer, the Countess. In order to quell the rumors about him and the Countess, he married her in 1885. Like Mary and Joseph, they took a vow of chastity in their marriage, and instead dedicated their marriage to charitable works.

In addition to his work with taking care of orphans, he was active in promoting the Catechism of the Catholic Church, as well as having The Holy Father formally define the dogma of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a belief of the Church for centuries, but one that was never formally defined at that time. After his death, Pope Pius XII did indeed formally proclaim this dogma in 1950.

In his later years, Satan attacked him once again, with rumors of financial misdoings, so he stepped down from all activities dealing with money, and in 1906, he turned over everything he had to the Church. He was later cleared of all charges.  He continued promoting the Rosary, and went to confession twice a week.  People who saw him in his later years swore that he was in ecstasy at times. When asked about it, Bartolo confirmed that he did indeed have visions of Mary on a regular basis. On October 5, 1926, Bartolo passed from this life into eternity, with the words, “My only desire is to see Mary, who has saved me and who will save me from the clutches of Satan.”

On October 26, 1980, Pope John Paul II pronounced Bartolo Longo “Blessed,” clearing the way for him to one day be declared a saint of the Catholic Church. The Pope called Bartolo the “Man of Mary.”

For the rest of us, Blessed Bartolo’s example of completely turning his life around from hell to heaven should teach us that we too should turn to God’s chosen one, our very own Mother Mary, to lead us to Him. A Rosary a day definitely keeps the devil at bay!

Blessed Bartolo Longo Quotes

“I renounce spiritism because it is nothing but a maze of error and falsehood.”

“If you seek salvation, promulgate the Rosary. This is Mary’s own promise. These words illumined my soul. I went on my knees. If it is true, I will not leave this valley until I have propagated your Rosary.”

“You, what have you done by taking Christ out of the schools? You have produced enemies of social order, subversives. On the contrary, what have we gained by putting Christ into the schools of the children of criminals? We have transformed these misfortunate ones into honest and virtuous young people that you wanted to abandon to their sad fate or toss into insane asylums!”

“My only desire is to see Mary who saved me and who will save me from the clutches of Satan.”

“I wish to die a true Dominican tertiary in the arms of the Queen of the Rosary with the assistance of my Holy Father Saint Dominic and of my mother Saint Catherine of Siena.”

“Rosary in hand, Blessed Bartolo Longo says to each of us: “Awaken your confidence in the Most Blessed Virgin of the Rosary. Venerable Holy Mother, in you I rest all my troubles, all my trust and all my hope!”

– Pope John Paul II in his homily during the beatification ceremony for Blessed Bartholomew

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17 thoughts on “Blessed Bartolo Longo: From Satanist to Saint”

  1. Blessed Bartolo Longo: Modern Rosary Saint
    Madeline Pecora Nugent, SFO
    SINNER. SATANIST. SOCIAL worker. Saint. A strange progression taken by Blessed Bartolo Longo. On February 11, 1841, a sweet tempered physician’s wife of Latiano, Italy, gave birth to a son whom she named Bartolo. Devoted to Our Lord and His Mother, she taught all her children to pray the Rosary daily and to visit and care for the poor, while Dr. Longo instilled in them a love of music and beauty. Bartolo would later describe himself as “a lively and impertinent imp, sometimes rather a rascal.” The priests who educated him found Bartolo to be highly intelligent, cordial, and accommodating although prone to a fiery temper.
    When Bartolo was ten, his mother died. Slowly Bartolo began to drift away from his faith. Eventually he studied law from a private tutor, then attended the University of Naples to complete his education. It wasn’t the same University of Naples where St. Thomas Aquinas taught, but a dangerous place for Bartolo’s young mind. Searching for meaning in life, Bartolo became emneshed in the political movements and spiritism so popular with college students at that time in Italy. Deeply involved with a satanic sect, Bartolo aspired to the satanic priesthood, so he entered upon a long preparation of studies, fastings, and mortifications. On the night of his ordination by a satanic bishop, the walls of the “church” shook with thunder while blasphemous, disembodied shrieks knifed the air. Bartolo fainted with fright and for a while afterwards was deeply tormented and physically ill. Despite this depression and nervousness, he exercised his satanic priesthood by preaching, officiating at satanic rites, and publicly ridiculing Catholicism and everyone and everything connected with it.

    During these bleak years, the Longo family was besieging heaven for their wayward member. One day Bartolo seemed to hear the voice of his dead father begging him to return to God. Troubled, he paid a visit to one of his friends from Latiano, Professor Vincenzo Pepe, who was living and teaching near Naples. Shocked by Bartolo’s appearance, Pepe exclaimed, “Do you want to die in an insane asylum and be damned forever?” When Bartolo admitted his mental confusion, Pepe took him under his wing. He introduced the troubled young man to many holy people who gave him support and counsel. One of these was a well-educated Dominican priest, Alberto Radente, who gave Bartolo a detailed course in the Catholic faith which included the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas. After much study, prayer, and a lengthy confession, Bartolo was again admitted to the sacraments. On the feast of the Annunciation, March 25, 1871, he was professed into the Third Order of St. Dominic and given the name of Brother Rosary in recognition of his favorite daily prayer.
    To complete his break with satanism, the new convert made one final visit to a seance, held up a medal of Our Lady, and cried out that he renounced spiritism because it was “a maze of error and falsehood.” He then went to student parties and cafes, denouncing the “religion” he had formerly embraced and proclaiming his faith in the Catholic Church. This was a brave thing to do as the Catholic Church was, at that time, being suppressed. He considered becoming a priest but was discouraged by both friends and his spiritual director. After making a retreat, he discerned not to marry, but rather to devote himself unreservedly to God and Our Lady. He was later to write:
    “I place myself, my God, in your hands; as a son I abandon myself to your fatherly embrace; roll and roll again this mud, it has nothing to say; it is enough that it serve your designs and not resist your will for which I was made. Ask, command, prohibit. What do you wish that I do, or that I not do? Lifted up, knocked down, suffering, dedicated to your works by sacrificing my will to yours, I can only say, as did Mary: ‘Behold I am your servant. 0 Lord, let it be done to me according to your Word.”
    Friar Radente told Bartolo that he had to repair the damage he had caused to others, so he joined his pious friends in caring for the poor, sick, and needy. One of this pious group was the wealthy widow Countess Mariana di Fusco. The Countess commissioned Bartolo, who was a lawyer, to collect the rent from poor farmers on a vast tract of land she owned near the ancient city of Pompeii. She needed the money to support her five children. In 1872, Bartolo arrived in marshy Pompeii, accompanied by two armed escorts to protect him from bandits that overran the area. He was shocked and filled with pity at the ignorance, lack of faith, superstition, poverty, and moral corruption of the people. The aging priest in a decaying church rarely saw any parishioners. People and animals slept together in ramshackle, filthy quarters. How could Bartolo help? Bartolo later wrote,
    “One day in the fields around Pompeii called Arpaia. . .1 recalled my former condition as a priest of Satan. Father Alberto had told me repeatedly never again to think of, or reflect on (this), but I thought that perhaps as the priesthood of Christ is for eternity, so also the priesthood of Satan is for eternity.
    “So, despite my repentance, I thought: I am still consecrated to Satan, and I am still his slave and property as he awaits me in Hell. As I pondered over my condition, I experienced a deep sense of despair and almost committed suicide. Then I heard an echo in my ear of the voice of Friar Alberto repeating the words of the Blessed Virgin Mary:
    ‘One who propagates my Rosary shall be saved.’ These words certainly brought an illumination to my soul. Falling to my knees, I exclaimed: ‘If your words are true that he who propagates your Rosary will be saved, I shall reach salvation because I shall not leave this earth without propagating your Rosary.’ At that moment the little bell of the parish church rang out, inviting the people to pray the Angelus. This incident was like a signature to my firm decision.”
    Later he wrote, “What is my vocation? To write about Mary, to have Mary praised, to have Mary loved.”
    Bartolo lost no time. He made repeated trips to the Valley of Pompeii to teach the people how to pray the Rosary. Beginning in 1873, he organized a yearly Rosary feast, incorporating music, fireworks, races, and a lottery into it. In 1875, as part of a parish mission, he invited a group of priests to speak about devotion to the Rosary. To conclude the mission, he promised to display a painting of Our Lady of the Rosary, and the painting that he obtained has been the cause of numerous miracles of healing. He constructed a church to hold this image and then, around it, an entire city dedicated to helping orphans and the poor. He also wrote books about the Rosary and composed novenas and a prayer manual. In all of these works, he was assisted by the Countess. When evil rumors began to spread about the relationship between the widow and the handsome, intelligent lawyer, Bartolo and the Countess consulted their friend Pope Leo XIII, a great devotee of the Rosary. “Lawyer, you are free; Countess, you are a widow; get married and no one can say anything against you.” So on April 7, 1885, they were married. In this chaste union, for Bartolo had taken a vow of chastity, the couple continued their charitable works until the Countess’s death in 1924.
    Bartolo was tireless in his work. He founded a congregation of Dominican nuns to help educate the orphans in his city and also brought in the Christian Brothers for the boys. He urged people to learn the catechism and worked to have defined by Rome the doctrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin. After laboring fifty years for his “Lady,” Bartolo was the object of calumny and slander as lies spread about his mishandling of funds. He bore these with resignation and was cleared of all charges. In 1906, Bartolo turned all his property, including his own personal property, over to the Holy See. He then assisted the new head of the administration and continued to work in the city he had built, but only as a humble employee. He remained at his work at the Shrine until he was 85-years-old, ever promoting the Rosary and going to confession twice weekly.
    Over the years his prayer had become so intense that one of those who saw him could say, “I often saw him with his arms outstretched and his eyes fixed on heaven or on the image of Our Lady, or even with his eyes half-closed, totally enraptured without being aware of those around or near him.” Asked if he saw the Blessed Mother, Bartolo would answer, “Yes, but not as she is in heaven.” During his last hours on October 5, 1926, he prayed the Rosary, surrounded by the orphans whom he so loved. “My only desire is to see Mary, who has saved me and who will save me from the clutches of Satan,” he said with his final breath. On October 26, 1980, Pope John Paul II pronounced Bartolo Longo Blessed, calling him the “Man of Mary.”

    1. Of course! All power given to us is from God. The apostles performed miracles through the power of Christ. Mary, full of grace, is likewise given a mission to help bring us closer to God. We all have some level of power and influence to help bring others to Christ, (some more than others!) but you are correct, this is God given, not of our own making. Mary would agree with you, all she has is from God. She proclaimed what wonders God has done to her in the Magnificat. But it would be unscriptural to deny her profound influence in history and in God’s plan of salvation.

    2. My comment was a response to this direct quote from Bartolo Longo:

      “My only desire is to see Mary who saved me..”

    3. I see your point, but I interpret him saying that like what one would say of a paramedic who saves a person through CPR: “you saved me”… God did the saving, through the co-operating actions of another.
      At least, any Catholic with proper formation would mean it that way!

    4. So, Beth, if you are drowning and I jump in and save you from death, Jesus gets all the credit and I get none?

    5. In the context of the statement I referred to, the word ” save” implies salvation from sin. And yes, Jesus gets all the credit for that.

  2. Wow can this be used in churches chapels and in our own sanctuary house with we laity brothers of the passion of Christ. We atone for sexually sinning men worldwide who see not to repent….with this blessed man among us , thanks to you, we will have a new powerful devotee to intercede for our bishop approved ministry which is also given a thumbs up via Cardinal Pell. Thsnks and I am now a subscriber I await

  3. Good article, except you stole the title from a You Tube clip from Immaculate Heart Films on Bartolo Longo. You might want to re-title for credibility.

    1. I did not steal anything. I have never seen any youtube clip on Bartolo Longo. I made it up myself.

    2. my apologies- but the title is exactly the same- just thought you should know.

      From Satanist to Saint: Bartolo Longo – PART 1

      From Satanist to Saint: Bartolo Longo – PART 2

  4. Ray-This is a GREAT article-fullofwonder way to begin the weekend-thank you. And it really is about all of us. I keep hearing and reading from so many diverse sources-our weapon of choice today should be the rosary. A rosary on full-auto, 53 armor piercing hail marys, 5 HEAT Our Fathers, 5 hi-power Glory Be’s; and a crucifix as the Sword of the Spirit, that is the word of God. So many times saying the rosary we say the word “us” – and that is all of us-Church Militant and Church Suffering. Ray-do some more research and more articles like this one. Muchas Gracias. Guy

    1. Thanks Guy – I shall…Say your rosary every day IF : you want good things to happen to you instead of bad, you want to go to heaven, you want to convert poor sinners, you want to help the poor souls in purgatory, and you want America to be one nation under God again…

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