May 8th is the Feast of Our Lady of Pompei. In Italy and in places all over the globe the feast will be marked by the solemn recitation at noon of Blessed Bartolo Longo‘s moving prayer, the Supplica, meaning supplication or petition.
The Prayer of People the World Over
The Supplica is, of Blessed Bartolo Longo’s published prayers to the Mother of God, the most famous. Its incandescent words have opened countless souls to the grace of Christ through the all–powerful intercession of His Mother.
The Supplica is a prayer that people have made their own. It is known on every continent; it has been translated into hundreds of languages. No authority ever imposed it, it is not part of the liturgy of the Church, it was never submitted to revision by ICEL, and yet, it has become universal. Sociologists of religion, take note! Translators of liturgical texts, wake up and smell the Italian coffee!
A Prayer of the Heart
Certain rationalistic types disdain the Supplica. They see it as representative of an unenlightened, sentimental, southern Italian piety bordering on superstition. They find its emphases embarrassing, its display of emotion unnerving.
The literary style of Blessed Bartolo Longo is the expression of his own character. He was capable of gentleness and of passion. He was, like all meridionals, rich in sentiment and quick to express it both in song and in tears. He was moved, before all else, by the reason of the heart.
Blessed Longo was a lover of Truth; but his particular grace was the discovery of Truth through love. He found Truth, not in syllogisms and in concepts, but in the Heart and on the Face of the Word Made Flesh in the womb of the Virgin, and held in her arms.
The Prayer of One Delivered From Evil
The Rosary was the means by which, at the age of twenty–eight, a confused and desperate Avvocato Bartolo Longo — a practicing Satanist and medium at the time — was converted to the Truth and delivered from the powers of darkness. He vowed that he would spend his life proclaiming to others the Rosary’s liberating and healing power. This is why, at the end of the Supplica, he exclaims: “O blessed Rosary of Mary, sweet chain which unites us to God, bond of love which unites us to the angels, tower of salvation against the assaults of hell, safe port in our universal shipwreck, we shall never abandon you.”
Bound to Mary by the Rosary
The Supplica may not be everyone’s cup of tea. Even pious folks may find it a bit too baroque, a bit overdone. It may be the southern Italian blood (mixed with Irish) that runs hot in my veins, but I love the Supplica and I plan on saying it with thousands of other people today. It is the prayer of a man very like myself: a poor sinner who fears nothing when he holds the Rosary in his hands, knowing that the Mother of God holds her end of the chain, and will not let it go.
Prayed at Midday on May 8th
O August Queen of Victories, O Sovereign of Heaven and Earth, at whose name the heavens rejoice and the abyss trembles, O glorious Queen of the Rosary, we your devoted children, assembled in your temple of Pompeii, (on this solemn day), pour out the affection of our heart and with filial confidence expresse our miseries to you.
From the throne of clemency, where you are seated as Queen, turn, O Mary, your merciful gaze on us, on our families, on Italy, on Europe, on the world. Have compassion on the sorrows and cares which embitter our lives. See, O Mother, how many dangers of body and soul, how many calamities and afflictions press upon us.
O Mother, implore for us the mercy of your divine Son and conquer with clemency the heart of sinners. They are our brothers and your children who cause the heart of our sweet Jesus to bleed and who sadden your most sensitive heart. Show all that you are the Queen of Peace and of Pardon.
It is true that although we are your children we are the first to crucify Jesus by our sins and to pierce anew your heart.
We confess that we are deserving of severe punishment, but remember that, on Golgotha, you received with the divine blood, the testament of the dying Savior, who declared you to be our Mother, the Mother of sinners.
You then, as our Mother, are our Advocate, our Hope. And we raise our suppliant hands to you with sighs crying “Mercy!” O good Mother, have pity on us, on our souls, on our families, our relatives, our friends, our deceased, especially our enemies, and on so many who call themselves Christian and yet offend the heart of your loving Son. Today we implore pity for the misguided nations throughout all Europe, throughout the world, so that they may return repentant to your heart.
Kindly deign to hear us. O Mary! Jesus has placed in your hands all the treasures of his graces and mercies. You are seated a crowned Queen at the right hand of your Son, resplendent with immortal glory above the choirs of angels. Your dominion extends throughout heaven and earth and all creatures are subject to you.
You are omnipotent by grace and therefore you can help us. Were you not willing to help us, since we are ungrateful children and undeserving of your protection, we would not know to whom to turn. Your motherly heart would not permit you see us, your children, lost. The Infant whom we see on your knees and the blessed rosary which we see in your hand, inspire confidence in us that we shall be heard. We confide fully in you, we abandon ourselves as helpless children into the arms of the most tender of mothers, and on this day, we expect from you the graces we so long for.
One last favour we now ask of you, O Queen, which you cannot refuse us (on this most solemn day): Grant to all of us your steadfast love and in a special manner your maternal blessing. We shall not leave you until you have blessed us. Bless, O Mary, at this moment, our Holy Father. To the ancient splendors of your crown, to the triumphs of your Rosary, whence you are called the Queen of Victories, add this one also, O Mother: grant the triumph of religion and peace to human society. Bless our bishops, priests and particularly all those who are zealous for the honor of your sanctuary. Bless finally all those who are associated with your temple of Pompeii and all those who cultivate and promote devotion to your Holy Rosary.
O blessed Rosary of Mary, sweet chain which unites us to God, bond of love which unites us to the angels, tower of salvation against the assaults of hell, safe port in our universal shipwreck, we shall never abandon you. You will be our comfort in the hour of agony: to you the last kiss of our dying life. And the last word from our lips will be your sweet name, O Queen of the Rosary of Pompeii, O dearest Mother, O Refuge of Sinners, O Sovereign Consoler of the Afflicted. Be blessed everywhere, today and always, on earth and in Heaven. Amen.
Hail, Holy Queen.