Bartolo was a well-educated, upper middle class nineteenth century lawyer. He was apparently a multi-talented fella. He distinguished himself in oratory, fencing, dancing, flute, and piano. His mom had been a devout Catholic who taught him to pray the rosary, but when he was around ten, she died. He began to drift from the Catholic Church, but most of Italy was drifting from it. Politically, the move toward unification inevitably clashed with the Pope's claim to be king of the Papal States. Intellectually, it was quite unfashionable to believe superstitious old nonsense about communion and penance when exciting new ideas like magnetism and phrenology could be studied instead. He moved on to contacting spirits through media, and then wound up as a priest of Satanism. And even worse, a lawyer.
|Peter Gilmore, current Satanic high priest|
Being a Satanic priest was not as spiritually fulfilling as he had expected. He addressed his depression by fasting (didn't help), which just seemed to lead to poor health and diabolical visions. An old friend introduced him to a Dominican priest who carefully guided him back to the Church. He returned with such zeal that he joined the Dominicans as a tertiary, taking the name Fratel Rosario -- Brother Rosary. This was apparently a direct reference to Saint Dominic's vision of Mary in which she said, he who propagates my rosary will be saved. I guess he figures the only way a Satanic priest can enter heaven is by extraordinary devotion, and Mary's comment may the string of rosary beads look like a life line to him.
|The very painting, restored|
|The saint in his restored church|
His faith led him from Satanic priest to Dominican church-builder. Although he is feasted on October 10, his death day, I figure it is sensible to tell his story today, on the feast of that aspect of the BVM to which he was so gratefully, adoringly devoted.