Blessed Bartolo Longo (February 11, 1841 - October 26, 1926) was a Satanist priest who later repented and became a lay Dominican and dedicated his life to the Virgin Mary.
Bartolo Longo was born into wealth on February 11, 1841 in the small town of Latiano, near Brindisi, in southern Italy. His parents were devout Roman Catholics and taught him to pray the Roasary daily.
In 1851 Longo's mother died and he slowly began to drift from his childhood faith. As a young man he attended the University of Naples and became involved with a movement that led him into a Satanist cult. Longo eventually studied to become and was ordained as a satanic priest.
In the following years, Longo's life became one of depression, nervousness and confusion. He turned to a hometown friend for guidance Vincenzo Pepe. It was Pepe who convinced him to abandon Satanism and he further introduced him to the Domenican Father Alberto Radente who further guided him.
Longo spent a period of time repenting and made his profession as a lay Dominican. He took the name Brother Rosario in honor of the Rosary. The date of his conversion was October 7, 1871.
In 1872, now as Brother Rosario he began to do good service to make up for his time as a servant of Satan, he went to Pompeii where he had joined a charitable group and aided a wealthy widow Countess Mariana di Fusco. However, he worried that he would still be condemned to hell for his having been a Satanic priest. He was calmed by remembering what Father Alberto had told him that the Virgin Mary had told St. Dominic, "he who propagates my Rosary will be saved." It was these words that led him to begin evangelizing people to the Rosary.
He started restoring a dilapidated church in October 1873 and sponsored a festival in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary. In 1875 Longo obtained a well worn painting of Our Lady of the Rosary from a convent in Naples and raised funds to get the image restored so as to locate in the church.
Miracles started to be reported and people began flocking in droves to the church. Longo was given permission by the bishop of Nola to begin the construction of a larger church; the cornerstone being laid on May 8, 1876. The church was consecrated in May 1891 by Cardinal La Valetta who was representing Pope Leo XIII. In 1939, the church was enlarged to a basilica known today as the Basilica of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary.
The the suggestion of Pope Leo XIII Longo and the Countess Mariana di Fusco were married on April 7, 1885. The chaste couple continued to many charitable works and they provided for orphaned children. In 1906 they donated the entire property of the Pompeii shrine to the Holy See. Longo continued promoting the Rosary until his death on October 5, 1926.
He was beatified by Pope John Paul II on October 26, 1980 who would call him the, "Apostle of the Rosary."