In Piazza Bartolo Longo stands the famous sanctuary of the Beata Vergine del Rosario.
Once, this large area called Campo Pompeiano, was a feud belonging first to Luigi Caracciolo and then to Ferdinando d’Aragona until in 1593 it became the private property of Alfonso Piccolomini.
From this moment an inexorable decline started and ended only towards the end of the nineteenth century with the arrival of a young lawyer from Puglia, Bartolo Longo with the task to administrate the goods of the countess De Fusco.
Bartolo Longo decided to commit himself to the divulgation of Christianity and thus founded the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary in the church of SS. Salvatore, here he started the collection to build the Sanctuary dedicated to the Madonna.
The Sanctuary, which was designed by the architect Antonio Cua who directed the work without recompense, was consecrated on May 7th 1891. In 1901 Giovanni Rispoli took over from Cua and he superintended the works of the monumental façade which has its maximum artistic expression with the statue of the Vergine del Rosario sculptured by Gaetano Chiaromonte in a block of marble from Carrara.
In 1901 the sanctuary became a papal Basilica by order of pope Leon XIII.
Aristide and Pio Leonori designed the bell-tower which has its entrance from a bronze door and has five floors. The Basilica has got a nave and two side aisles. In the nave there is a cupola 57 metres high.
The painting of the “Vergine del Rosario con il Bambino” with its bronze gilt frame is exposed on the high altar. Today the painting is object of deep veneration and the story of its acquisition is really strange.
The painting was bought from a second-hand dealer by Father Alberto Maria Radente belonging to the convent of “S. Domenico Maggiore” who gave it as a gift to Bartolo Longo.
Then the painting was brought to Pompeii by a carter on a barrow full of manure.
At this point a young girl went to the sanctuary where she prayed to the Madonna to be cured from epilepsy; and this grace was conceded, from this moment the church became a place of pilgrimage. Not far from the sanctuary there is Bartolo Longo’s house.
The upper floor is now a museum with prints, pictures and photos representing the Vesuvius eruptions as well as minerals and volcanic rocks. There is also a library with about 1300 volumes.
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Testi: Teresa Gagliardi
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