Our Lady of the Rosary of Pompeii
The Arrival at St Fiacre’s Parish, Leichhardt
The travelling Icon of Our Lady of the Rosary of Pompeii first visited Australia in 2011, accompanied by the Archbishop of Pompeii, His Excellency Carlo Liberati. The Icon travelled to Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide, attracting tens of thousands of pilgrims. Due to the great devotion by the Australian Catholic community, the Icon returned to Australia in 2016.
To coordinate these two extraordinary religious events, a committee was formed comprising 11 Australian-Italian devotees of Our Lady of the Rosary of Pompeii. At the conclusion of the second Australian pastoral tour of the Icon, the organising committee commissioned a replica of the Icon, which now permanently resides at St Fiacre’s Parish Church, Leichhardt. The annual feast, in honour of Our Lady of the Rosary of Pompeii, is celebrated on 8 May, with pilgrims from all over Australia attending the annual celebration.
Australia alone has over 8,000 devotees that receive the Madonna di Pompeii newsletter. Her popularity does not lie solely amongst Italians; other nationalities such as Portuguese, Spanish, French, Lebanese, Filipinos and South Americans are also strong followers. The work of the Madonna di Pompeii (Our Lady of the Rosary) is known worldwide. Hundreds of miracles have been recorded by the sanctuary, especially during the late 1800s.
The Icon is painted in the style of Eastern European icons of the Sixth Century, the Icon with its representation of Our Lady of the Rosary, was uncovered in 1875 (145 years ago) by Blessed Bartolo Longo. Our Lady of the Rosary of Pompeii, as depicted by the image, has generated an extraordinarily large following of devotees who turn to her in their time of need. The founder of the shrine in Italy was Bartolo Longo. In his youth he did not have strong faith, however, while studying law at Pompeii a good friend converted him.
One night, during a time of despair, while walking in Pompeii, he heard a whisper in his ear and promised that he will not leave the valley until he spread the word of the Rosary. There were many criminals and superstitious people who inhabited the local area. Bartolo asked for help to clean the chapel and then invited them to recite the rosary, but only a few children attended. This did not deter him; he then sponsored a festival, a Feast of the Holy Rosary in 1873. This was not successful, but still determined he did not give up.
A damaged painting of Our Lady of the Rosary was found in Naples. Too large to carry to Pompeii, Bartolo found someone who would transport it to the chapel for him. An amateur was asked to restore it and then this was placed in the church. Not until 1880 was the painting restored by the famous painter Federico Maldarelli and more recently the painting was restored again by Vatican Artists.
The Sanctuary of our Lady of the Rosary of Pompeii (Italy) was consecrated on 8 May 1891. Bartolo Lungo offered the Church and all its contents to the Vatican in 1894, thus coming under the immediate rule by the Papal estate.