I have been connecting with Bl. Bartolo Longo’s story so much. Although I was never and will never be a priest, I too got caught up in practicing witchcraft and messing in the occult. Bartolo was born into a Catholic family, but he rejected the faith and became a priest of Satan. He almost died by suicide because he was so greatly troubled and haunted by his past. When he had realized his need for Christ, a Dominican priest had worked with him, offering spiritual direction and guidance.
When he came to Jesus, he was still struggling with depression and felt that he deserved to go to hell because of the things he had been involved in. I too have often felt this way, and the forces of hell are happy to continue that narrative. Like the Apostle Paul, Bartolo had actively worked against anything the Church stood for, and yet he was converted and used by God. Thankfully for me, and Paul, and Bartolo, God can use anyone, and those of us who have walked in the darkness, upon discovering and walking in the light, can then turn around and help others out of spiritual darkness.
One thing that was a huge influence in Bartolo’s life, and mine as well, was the rosary. He remembered that the rosary had brought erring souls back to the truth and restored hope to lost souls during the life of St. Dominic. He remembered that the Dominican priest had taught him about how Mary had once made the promise to St. Dominic that those who promote the rosary will find salvation. These words kept repeating in Bartolo’s mind and heart, and were the answer to his despair. The rosary became his way of beating the bondage of Satan forever. (Calloway, p. 126).
The rosary has kept me close to Jesus, showing me who Jesus is and reminding me to walk with him. The rosaries I make are part of my contribution to promoting the rosary myself. It’s an amazing devotional tool and worth it’s weight in gold. It has been an instrument of conversion in my own life. I swear that the rosary is alive, there is something new that comes up for me to think about every time I pray it.
I’m thankful the rosary exists, I’m thankful for Bl. Bartolo Longo’s story, and I’m so incredibly grateful for the rosary and the major influence it has been in my own conversion and transformation.
Calloway, Donald H. Champions of the Rosary: The History and Heroes of a Spiritual Weapon, Marian Press, 2016.