Over the years, there have been hundreds of miracles attributed to Our Lady of Pompeii and the Irresistible Novena to Our Lady of the Rosary of Pompeii, commonly called the ‘54 Day Rosary Novena’.
For Madame Katharina Tangari (1906-1989), a devout Catholic woman and German author renowned for her inspiring apostolate of providing Bibles, rosaries, medicines and other vital items to persecuted Catholics in countries behind the Iron Curtain in World War II, her special devotion to Our Lady of Pompeii was the source of many extraordinary wonders.
But of all the graces showered upon Madam Tangari, one of her greatest gifts was becoming one of St. Padre Pio’s spiritual daughters.
In Madame Katharina Tangari’s Stories of Padre Pio, she said, “In order to obtain special help in a difficult situation, I thought of making a pilgrimage to the Shrine of the Holy Rosary at Pompeii.
“A dear friend of mine had once told me that in a case which was, humanly speaking, hopeless, she wanted to try one last thing.
“So she went on foot from Naples to Pompeii, imploring Our Lady by this sacrifice to obtain for her the grace she had so much at heart, and which she did in fact obtain.”
But how did this great devotion to Our Lady of Pompeii come to be?
How an Ex-Satanist Converted a City Through Our Lady of Pompeii
Blessed Bartolo Longo promulgated the Rosary among Pompeii.
He unearthed a tattered, second-hand painting from a convent in Naples, which portrayed the Virgin Mary and the Infant Jesus holding rosaries and accompanied by St. Dominic and St. Catherine of Siena.
Although this dilapidated painting was eventually restored by Blessed Bartolo, this very depiction of Our Lady of the Rosary resulted in the miraculous healing of the young Fortuna Agrelli years later.
Bartolo Longo was a devout layman and lawyer. Although he was raised Catholic, he lost his faith in college.
Becoming heavily involved with the practice of spiritualism and the occult, Bartolo did all in his power to undermine Catholicism. This left him with nothing but anxiety and depression, sending him into the dark depths of despair.
Bartolo eventually sought help and was directed to Fr. Alberto Radente, a Dominican priest deeply devoted to the Virgin Mary.
With a newfound sense of peace, Bartolo completely abandoned his old ways and desired to do everything he could to bring others closer to the fullness of truth and help the poor.
In 1871, he became a Third Order Dominican and was given the name ‘Brother Rosario’ in honor of the Rosary.
While traveling to Pompeii in 1872 to help a wealthy countess named Marianna de Fusco with some legal matters, Bartolo was immediately struck by the state of the city.
Many had abandoned their Catholic faith, the church building required urgent repair, poverty prevailed and many locals stopped attending Sunday Mass.
Bartolo then discovered his true mission: he was to bring Catholicism back to life in the ancient city of Pompeii.
By restoring the dilapidated church and the old portrait of Our Lady obtained from Naples, inaugurating a Confraternity of the Rosary, sponsoring a festival in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary, opening charities, helping orphans, the sick and the poor, Bartolo rekindled the faith of many.
Like a city awakening from its slumber, the faith of the people of Pompeii was brought back to life.
Today, the restored Church has been declared a Pontifical Shrine and Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary of Pompeii.
In 1979, Pope John Paul II went on a pilgrimage to Pompeii. He later beatified Bartolo Longo on October 26, 1980. Millions flock to the shrine every year, as many miracles are attributed to Our Lady of Pompeii.
However, one of the greatest miracles thus far was Our Lady of Pompeii’s apparition to a young girl named Fortuna Agrelli.
The Miracle Behind the 54-Day Rosary Novena
On March 3, 1884, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to Fortuna Agrelli. Mary sat on a high throne with the Infant Jesus in her lap and a Rosary in her hand. They were accompanied by St. Dominic and St. Catherine of Siena.
For thirteen months, the young Fortuna endured immense suffering and pain. Her doctors gave up, deeming it a hopeless case. But clinging on to their last ray of hope, the dying girl and her family began a novena of Rosaries, desperately imploring Our Lady’s intersession.
“Queen of the Holy Rosary, be gracious to me, restore me to health! I have already prayed to Thee in a novena, O Mary, but have not yet experienced Thy aid. I am so anxious to be cured!” beseeched the young Agrelli.
Our Lady responded: “You have invoked me by various titles and have always obtained favors from me.
“Now, since you have called me by the title so pleasing to me, ‘Queen of the Holy Rosary,’ I can no longer refuse the favor that you petition; for this name is most precious and dear to me.
“Make three novenas, and you will obtain all.”
Our Lady appeared a second time, saying: “Whosoever desires to obtain favors from me should make three novenas of the prayers of the Rosary in petition and three novenas in thanksgiving.”
Eventually, after completing the six Rosary novenas, the young girl was cured.
Our Lady’s intercession on behalf of Agrelli resulted in the miraculous 54-Day Rosary Novena.
Agrelli’s healing through Our Lady’s intercession had a profound effect on Pope Leo XIII, who encouraged all to cherish the Rosary and say it ardently.
This powerful novena involves reciting the Rosary each day for 27 days in petition, and then a Rosary each day for 27 days in thanksgiving, with the relevant Mystery prayers indicated for each day.
As such, the 54-Day Rosary Novena is a sequence of six uninterrupted nine-day novenas, requiring three novenas of petition and three novenas of thanksgiving. This link provides a guide for praying this novena.
The promises of Our Lady of Pompeii and the 54-Day Rosary Novena are beacons of hope to a world tormented by a tumultuous ocean of worry and fear.
In the most desperate cases where it feels as though all hope has been lost, this novena of Rosaries allows us to implore Our Lady’s intercession so that the Blessed Virgin Mary may grant us the favor we so trustingly seek.