“Just another guy with a blog.  No big whoop.”

October 11, 2009

The Rosary: The Devil’s Defeat

By Br. Ezra Sullivan, OP

On the day of Bartolo Longo’s beatification, October 26, 1980, Pope John Paul II called him a “man of the Madonna”; he later called him “a true apostle of the rosary” and “a layman who lived his ecclesial pledge to the full”. And John Paul II knew what he was saying — his own Marian spirituality was influenced deeply by what, as a young man, he had gleaned from Bartolo’s life and works.

So who was this a man who so profoundly affected the greatest pope of the 20th century and who has had a permanent effect on the way we Catholics venerate Mary? Unfortunately, he is unknown to many of those in the English-speaking world. His name is Blessed Bartolo Longo. Most people who know of Bartolo have heard of him from asides made by John Paul II in his apostolic letter on the rosary — but there is much more to this remarkable man than a few pithy quotes. His feast day is October 6th, and this is his story.

In Bartolo’s time, from the 1860s onwards, the Church in Naples was experiencing a spiritual crisis. Unbelief, rebellion, and the occult were widespread and affecting the souls of the faithful, especially college students. Many of them traded the theology of the saints for the philosophy of atheists, made street demonstrations against the pope, and — perhaps most dangerous of all — dabbled in witchcraft and consulted the famous Neapolitan mediums.

Among the wayward students in Naples, one stood above the rest in the depths of his depravity. As a young man, Bartolo not only participated in the anti-Catholic demonstrations, he not only preached publically and vehemently against the faith, he not only sought psychic mediums with his friends — he went even further and became a Satanic priest. Later on, Bartolo would describe how, in the rites of his blasphemous “ordination”, he promised his soul to a spirit-guide, a demon, which shook the walls and manifested itself with blasphemous shrieks.

For over a year, Bartolo lived under the spell of the demon, practicing the rites that were a mockery of the Church’s holy sacraments. Eventually, Bartolo’s experiences as a priest of Satan became unbearable, for the torments of a demon made him go nearly insane. But his family had not given up on him; through their help, he sought refuge in the sacrament of confession. . . . (continue reading)


  1. Ok I'll try to post a comment on your blog. I hate twitter personally...

    As I described several months ago, I happen to be a satanist. You blogged this for my benefit... as well as recommended several books.

    About two months ago, I returned and asked for other recommendations, but I don't think either one of us was paying attention enough and I'm not sure if you ever responded to me.

    I am still looking for books which describe or explain why we ought to respond to God, or even love him for that matter. You had suggested several books on conversions but they don't really move me in any direction. You suggested some of the Frank Sheed books - Theology and Sanity and Theology for Beginners - but I have owned those for a few years. I have also read several books over the years in my feeble attempt to understand. Some of them are: The Shape of Catholic Theology, Catholic & Christian, Introduction to the Devout Life, The Seven Story Mountain, Story of a Soul, The Four Cardinal Virtues and Faith, Hope, Love by Josef Piper, some of the Garrigou-Lagrange books, and many many others.

    Sure all of this has given me ample information on how God is understood in Catholicism, and even how others have related/responded to him... But it hasn't been of much help for my situation. Do you have any other suggestions?

  2. I actually did respond with a few additional titles. I'd have to go back and see what they were. But here's another book that I found very cogent and, hopefully, you will too. W. Norris Clarke's "The Philosophical Approach to God." http://www.amazon.com/Philosophical-Approach-God-Thomistic-Perspective/dp/0823227197/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1275319119&sr=1-5

  3. I did go back and find one of your tweets which referred to another book. I will keep that one in mind as well. I'm sorry, I didn't realize you answered because I only checked back for a few days and then assumed it had slipped your mind.

    I will do my best to get through the recommendation directly above this comment but I have to admit I find those a little harder to wrap my brain around. I have almost no experience in philosophy and so I might not catch it all.

    Thank you for taking the time to respond! Again!


  4. Good evening Mr. Madrid!

    I found my way back to this blog while thinking over the same question which prompted me to ask you for some book recommendations months ago. RE: Why respond to God. (Found in the comments above.)

    I was curious if instead of asking for other book recommendations, I might bother you to put it in your own words. Maybe that would be helpful to me!

    (Hrm. We used to be able to post anonymously. Guess they changed it.)