BETWEEN CZĘSTOCHOWA AND POMPEII
FR. JAROSŁAW KRZEWICKI: - In our editorial office we are welcoming archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio, an apostolic nuncio in Poland and archbishop Tommaso caputo, a prelate of Pompeii, a delegate of the Holy father for the sanctuary of Our Lady of Rosary. On 24 August 2017 in Miechów our eyesight was focused on the image and message of Our Lady of Pompeii. A lot of people heard about Bartolo Longo. Archbishops were in Miechów. How was that event proceeding and what impressions did it cause?
ARCHBISHOP TOMMASO CAPUTO: - It was an unusual meeting. For me it was somehow unexpected. Everything was organized by the diocese and the parish community, but particularly by the Order of the Holy Sepulcher. Bartolo Longo was awarded with the cross of the Order of the Holy Sepulcher. He was an attorney, the only layman living in marriage, who was proclaimed a beatified member of the Order. He is a person worth following. In the past we were asked to pass over his relics. And there was a ceremony of passing them over. Beside that our visit was also connected with sanctifying the image dedicated to the beatified man. Later we celebrated the Holy Mass, presided over by the apostolic nuncio in Poland archbishop Salvatore Pannacchio in the presence of the bishop of the place Jan Piotrowski, a lot of priests and representatives of the diocesan community.
Bartolo Longo is a witness of Our Lady of Pompeii. We cannot meet him personally, but today we are meeting You, witnesses of the cult to Mary in Pompeii.
ARCHBISHOP SALVATORE PENNACCHIO: - In my case the friendship with Our Lady of Pompeii began very early, when I was still a child. I was 10 years old, in the fifth year of primary school. There appeared the first sign of my vocation then. I met a nun who showed me a chapel of Our Lady. Giuhliano – a town from where I come, there is near Pompeii. Having a contact with Our Lady in Pompeii, asking Her for advice, I could recognize the voice of my vocation. Till today the sanctuary in Pompeii has been a purpose of my pilgrimages – I am there every time, when I visit my homeland, when I am in my home town.
Here we have archbishop Tommaso Caputo with us, a prelate of Pompeii, with whom I have been in a long friendship – we studied in the Diplomatic Academy together. He served in the Vatican diplomacy for years, and then in Vatican he was a chief of protocol for pope John Paul II. He also took care of the Pope when he was in the Gemelii clinic. Then he was appointed a nuncio on Malta and then the Pope sent him to Pompeii to undertake a mission which had been held by Bartolo Longo, and in this way he could spread the cult connected with this sanctuary, particularly Rosary prayer – the prayer so dear to John Paul II. I emphasize again: for me the sanctuary in Pompeii, relationship with Blessed Mother is a road of vocation. Thanks to Her I discovered what God had planned for me.
We are close to Jasna Góra. Blessed mother here, in Częstochowa, is dear to us, Poles. What connects these two sanctuaries, and what distinguishes them particularly?
ARCHBISHOP SALVATORE PENNACHIO: - Every time when I was in this sanctuary, I could observe a lot of pilgrims who were getting close to the Image on their knees, when they were making their pilgrimage to the sanctuary. For me this is a sign of deep respect and deep religiousness of this nation towards Blessed Mother. it concerns both Poles and pilgrims who arrive here from different parts of the world. We are looking at the image of our best Mother, our Mum, and in this way we are getting closer to Her – to Mother in Częstochowa, in Pompeii… The work of Bartolo Longo is very important. In this context we emphasize the relationship between mercifulness and justice, to which he drew our attention. He cared about families of sentenced people. He was aware that they could not escape punishment, but he cared about their children, in order to provide them with a suitable start in life.
ARCHBISHOP TOMMASO CAPUTO: - When he was building the sanctuary of Our Lady in Pompeii, Bartolo Longo became the apostle of Rosary. He used the comparison of flight: in order to be able to fly, float in the air, two wings are needed. He explained that faith without love would be misunderstanding, and love without faith would be hypocrisy. Therefore, around the sanctuary – which was built on the very field, as only debris of ancient buildings had been there, which remained after the eruption of the Vesuvius in the year79 – he decided to build children’s houses and orphanages. We must know that in the end of the XIX century there were a lot of orphans, and among them – also children of people under imprisonment. These houses have existed till today, we take care of about 200 children – boys and girls – who are experiencing tragedy of their parents’ imprisonment. Please note that the orchestra serving in the sanctuary, consists of children of people under imprisonment. This year the orchestra has celebrated its 123rd anniversary of its existence. One of the elements of pedagogy of Bartolo Longo towards the youngest was teaching them music.
Archbishop – I am speaking to archbishop Pennanchio – knows and understands us. What particularly, considering the message of Our Lady from Pompeii, would Archbishop give us, Poles?
ARCHBISHOP SALVATORE PENNACCHIO: - Here also two wings are needed. One the one hand – a prayer, but on the other hand – works of mercy. Because love and works of mercy are born from a prayer. So, there is a relation between these notions. We see Mary praying in silence. And She, as Mother, lets us come to Her, comforts and supports us, gives us courage. Well, we can become witnesses of Her love. This is a common message, which comes from both Pompeii and from Częstochowa. Therefore, I find it more joy-giving when my friend and co-brother archbishop Tommaso is with us today at such an important moment – when both images of Blessed Mother – in Pompeii and in Częstochowa – are united in contemplation. Let they raise deep faith in us, so that great love, great deeds of mercy would be born. Today there is a great need of mercy deeds of love.
I would also like to note a very important issue of repentance and reconciliation. This is something fundamental, basic. Through acknowledging our limited possibilities we can grow, we can get better, we can listen to the voice of Mary and this way we can become faithful witnesses of Christ. Both sanctuaries are becoming the same house of Mary in which we feel brothers and Her children. I has been 9 months since I arrived in Poland. I wanted to come here, to the editorial office of ‘Niedziela’ (‘Sunday’) in order to express my gratitude for everything what this weekly does and which I am always willing to read in Poland, and which concerns life of the Church in Poland. I am pleased to read Your weekly and I cordially thank Mrs. Editor-in-Chief for it and I thank everybody cooperating with ‘Niedziela’. I wish You everything the best so that you could pass over the good news of Christ to everybody. Proclaim the Gospel as it is very important for all believers, also You, Poles.
ARCHBISHOP TOMMASO CAPUTO: - I would like to add that we were brought up by John Paul II who showed religiousness to Mary through his numerous documents. The Pope encourages us, similarly as Jesus on cross was doing it, to accept Mary in our life. It particularly concerns priests and also all Christians. We are supposed to accept Mary not only in our house literally, but accept Her deeply in ourselves, so that She would become our Teacher, Intercessor. She helps us in our Christian life. Rosary is a prayer to Mary, focused on Christ, as it leads to Jesus being our salvation. Bartolo Longo understood that somebody who says Rosary prayer gets redeemed because he meets Jesus - our salvation.
Is Rosary prayer a good remedy to the crisis of Europe?
ARCHBISHOP CAPUTO: - Definitely, it is!
Thank you for your visit to the editorial office of ‘Niedziela’.
ARCHBISHOP TOMMASO CAPUTO: - Thank you and I will be waiting for all of you in Pompeii….
The interview was conducted on 25 August 2017 in the TV studio of ‘Niedziela’.