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The Life Of St. Joseph Calasanz
Saints, Martys, & Venerables
Calasanzian Family



St. Pompilius Mary Pirrotti, Sch. P. (1710-1766)

The biography of St. Pompilius Mary Pirrotti, Sch.P. is an “extraordinary” biography. But we should not wonder anything remembering that a collection of the lives of the saints is full of diverse lives: there are strong saints, humanly speaking, and weak saints. Pompilius Mary belonged to the second category. Physically and psychologically he was weak, very weak. But his activity was really passionate. He himself makes some testimonies in different occasions.
Nevertheless, some details are common to all saints: in them, the power of God is evident, is present, and is a reality the Passion and Death of Jesus. Pompilius Mary was persecuted and condemned several times by the ecclesiastical and civil authorities, like Calasanz, the Founder, as Christ was… because the disciple should not be greater than the Master. Therefore, ordinary people admired and followed him.   


Human happenings can be understood if the historical-social coordinates where they happened can be found. The divine happenings can only be understood if one believes in the Resurrected, who is alive, who is Lord of the History and likes to reveal himself  in weakness. The life of a saint is a conjunction of human and divine happenings.


What can tell us today the life of an Italian Piarist of the XVII century? If you continue reading, you will be surprised.




Let us make a hole in the tunnel of time so as to see the way of life in Italy in 1710-1766. It is not an easy thing to describe in a few words the “the enlightenment century”. During the first half of the XVIII century appear in the world then known, some social-political dynamism that make Europe lose some of its leadership and give way to other reigns and empires, whether in Asia, or in Africa.


Nevertheless, the Europe supremacy is still evident, overwhelmed by England’s admiration, model of the modern estates. Spain will end its succession war with the victory of the French Bourbon Dynasty. Meanwhile, in the Northern Europe, is in process a terrible war that will end with the decline of Sweden in behave of Prussia and Russia.


The Naples Region, the widest in Italy, embraced the Northern territories of the Peninsula, from the Abruzos to Calabria. It had also the Sicily Island, politically and socially different from the rest of the Reign.


According to the statistics of 1742, the city of Naples had 292,196 people. Only 6th parts of the people were workers. In monasteries, schools, hospices and other similar institutions there were 12825 persons. The aristocracy or superior class people, were very little instructed, loved the exterior pomp and neglected the administration of their goods.


The clerical people were also an autonomous group with many privileges, even more than the aristocratic people. That is why they shared the monopoly of the wealth. In 1765, the Naples city had about 12000 clerical people.


Within this society lived Pompilius Mary. His letters say nothing directly about this political and social situation of the kingdom. But indirectly one can feel in them the influence of the current situation: the misery of the cities, the roughness of the people, the bureaucracy of the Court, the corruption of customs, etc. 




To be able to understand the biography of the saint, the most important thing is to indicate the deep ideas transformation that was happening in Europe during this period. And because of this, the modern European countries came out. This movement of ideas is a result of the illuminism, Jansenism and quietism.


The illuminism maintained that life, free of precarious emotional influences, should be based upon the pure and simple reason. In the religious field it rejected the Christian supernatural elements, replacing them by the generic “natural religion” of deism. The power of the “Sovereign” is unlimited. The clerical state should not be excluded of the Country’s control, the one in charge of promoting production, education and economic, spiritual and material life of the subjects.


The freemasonry that comes to Italy from England and France, is in charge of spreading these ideas and it takes a purely anticlerical character. It is spread rapidly through the reign of Naples and in 1750 are published the Constitutions of the Free Muratories. This state of things will indirectly influence the life of Pompilius Mary.


The Jansenism comes from the Christian austere life conception. Instead of thinking God as a father, God is conceived as a demanding and rigid judge. The human nature is corrupted. Only those who are predestined, are been saved. The redemption is not universal.


This doctrine leads many away from the Sacraments. And in this field, Pompilius will fight a strong battle and will defend with courage the sacramental frequency against Jansenism that will attack him with violence.


The quietism led the spirits towards laxity, under the pretext of submission or indifference to the divine will. Michael Molinos, the founder, taught that the interior life consisted in a state of complete annihilation of the faculties of the soul, substituted by the action of God. The soul that has reached such a state, cannot sin. That soul should not worry about the defects and should reject the devotions that have as a goal the humanity of Christ, the Virgin Mary and the Saints.   


Pompilius Mary will be involved in a hard battle against the    quietism tendencies. His preaching of the devotion to the Heart of Jesus, the Beautiful Mama and Blessed Calasanz, and the defense of the frequent confession and Communion will cause him accusations from the quietism people and he will always feel innocent.


We are already prepared to enter into the agitated biography of this Italian Piarist of the XVIII century, a man physically and psychologically very weak. Nevertheless, the power of God is going to be manifested upon him in a strong way.  




Pompilius Mary was born in Montecalvo Irpino, Benevento Province - a region called Campania - Italy, on September 29, 1710. The following day was baptized in the Assumption of Our Lady Collegiate Church, with the name of Dominic.


During that time, this region belonged to the Naples Reign under the domination of Austria, but 24 years later they were defeated by Charles of Bourbon and they became subjects of Spain.


He was the sixth of eleven brethren. Three of them became Religious and one a Canon.  His parents were Jerome Pirrotti and Ursula Bozzuti. They belonged to noble families.


Mr. Jerome cultivated in his son the human virtues of honour, gentlemanship and gentility. Pompilius expresses it in this way: “I keep in my mind, with all precision, the paternal counsels, which together with the continuous works, formed me for God. And specially I remember the sentence: the noble facts require more noble ones. And the other one: virtue and honour have been a constant patrimony of the Pirrotti’s family. These two sentences are like two spurs that will stimulate me until the last breath of my life, in order to get virtue and honour”.


He lived the gentlemanship and gentility in such a way that in his letters appear continuously quotations about rudeness and impoliteness. About the people from Turi, the town where he started his Calasanzian school ministry, used to say: “the people of this town are too rude and being clerics almost all of its citizens, they lack the necessary gentility”.  About Naples he wrote: “The poor gentlemen and the poor madams from Naples do not have any idea what the treatment of gentlemen and madams is”.


And with the liberty that the spirit gives, he will lament of his companions: “The Piarist Province is full of abruptness in relationship. In the Superiors there are not good manners. What a wonderful thing would be the nice gentility and the precious and opportunity charity!”


A proof that the virtues inculcated by his father accompanied him the whole life is this valiant testimony just near his death: “In the many years I have lived in the Pious Schools, I don’t remember I have done even the smallest harm to anybody, not to an ant. On the contrary, I have done good to everybody and there is not, will not be a person among us that could say: I have received this impoliteness from Pompilus Mary”.


Mr. Jerome taught him, too, the Renaissance Classical Humanities, basic of the formation during many centuries in Italy. In many of his letters we find sentences and Latin verses very well applied; it seems that they formed a part of his personal thinking.


The young Pompilius was not only like his father in the human virtues and the literary tastes, but also he looked the same in the physical and psychical aspects. “I am a spikenard spike, like you: tall and thin”. Both were depressive-emotional, impressionable, and psychically very impressionable.


By the way, contrary to what generally happens, the mother had very small influence in his education: “The feelings of our dear mother - he writes - , I know it very well, are always carnal and worldly ones. I have never be pleased by them”.


At home, the Pirrotti’s family had a domestic chapel dedicated to the Abundance Virgin. There, he learned the devotion he later on showed it calling Her “Mamma Belle” (Beautiful Mama).




When he was 15 years old, he made his first spiritual retreat. We keep his written notes. Thinking about his future writings, we can see four important themes: the contrast between the present life and the future; the comprehension of the eternal consequences of the present life; his attention to the persons of Christ and the Virgin; and his prompt disposition to leave everything present to assure the eternal.


And he ends: “I have decided to embrace the state the Lord wants for me for His greater glory”.


After one year, in 1726, one Piarist Father, Fr. Nicholas Mary Severino, preached during Lent in his town. He goes to his Spiritual Director so that he would intercede at his home: “I was ready to ask you so that you would intercede with my father; more than once I went to ask you, but I did not dare to do so (…) Only God knows how many tears have come down from my eyes, suffering very much of being in the world. And believe me, my affliction was so great that I was ready to run away from my home and leave my parents, my goods and my possessions and what could be mine, to serve God”.


 And it happened like this, according to the testimony of another letter. On May 9, 1726, he ran away from home, leaving some written notes from where we quote: “You will never blame of my running without your permission (…)  I go to Benevento with much comfort, on a horse…There, I will take the Piarist cassock; in complete joy I pay my respects in the Lord”.


The family – the mother in concrete – moved everything she had in her hands to make him come back home. But everything was in vain. From his running away from home until the day he took the cassock (February 2, 1727), in Naples, it took almost a year. This was the moment when he changed his baptismal name, Dominic, for Pompilius Mary, as an act of respect for his older brother who had died in the seminary.



(February 1727- September 1732)


He had dispensation of his second year of novitiate and in April 1728, he made his first profession and then he writes to his father: “I communicate to you that by the grace of God I have arrived to Chieti, when I will remain until I finish my Rhetoric and Philosophy studies, during five years; and after I finish them, I will go back to Naples for Theological studies”.


His precarious health made impossible the realization of the normal curriculum. On February 5, 1729, he receives the Tonsure and the following day the Minor Orders. During the summer of 1730, the Superiors sent him home, thinking that the native climate would help the recuperation of the lost health.


From the paternal home, he was not sent again to Chieti, but to Melfi, a small town not so far from Montecalvo. There he had as professor of Sacred Sciences the famous Piarist, a great preacher, Fr. Erasmo Frezza, who was a confessor of the Vatican and a consultant of the Holy Congregation for the Index.


In the letters we keep from Melfi written by Pompilius, we see a young religious that feels the vanity of the worldly things, aspires the eternity and uses the suffering as an ascetic means of perfection: “I refuse to be only a saint or only a learned person. I want to be at the same time a saint and a learned person (…) I hope in the Lord who can take to a good end all my desires, founded, anyway, upon the glory of God (…) I assure you that among all Piarist Brothers, at the present I am the most sick, but I don’t remain, in any way, without doing anything, never idle (…) Saint Thomas was also a sick person and he suffered terrible stomach pains, as Blessed Albert Magnus says, but he never stopped praying or studying (…) God, when He wants to give favors to His servants, He takes them to solitude.”


At twenty one years old, he shows in his letters a sensibility that is not ordinary. In some occasions it seems that he is called to great sufferings. His emotionality, always present, will be a permanent element in his life.


Pompilius Mary was so intimate with the people of Melfi that everybody in the town, when he is going to be transferred, all try to hinder it. “I assure you, he writes to his father, that as soon as my departure was known, everybody in Melfi ran to our school to tell Fr. Rector not to give that step, in any way”.


This reality will be repeated during his life, in all the cities he had to leave. His transfers were expulsions and exiles, fruit of the persecutions he suffered from the religious and civil authorities. But the people were always faithful, as we will see: they felt the charm of the effusive, affective, giving himself, delicate personality.


The health of the young Pompilius Maria was very fragile. In all the letters of this epoch – from 1731 to 1735, when he lived in Melfi, Turi ansd Francavilla Fontana – he always talks about his health and his topics are the same: headaches, indisposition of his stomach, heart and blood pressures, vertigoes. All are parts of the body where most are reflected the emotional and affective states. For the first time appears the nervous changes that will make him suffer really much. His weak body will be shaken by his great nerve emotions that are been provided by his apostolic works and the incomprehension of men. A prophet does not enjoy the approval and affection of all!


“It was necessary to take blood from my ears by means of leeches, because of the blood pressure that again was explosive. My head was rather hurting me and it was heavy and dull”. In the same letter, a little down, completes the state of his health condition: “I am always in a festive mood, always happy; although without flesh and everything bloody”.


The heart is the organ where are reflected most the affections and emotions. The heart pressure and the psychic depression generally go together, if they are different in the origin: “I would not know how to express to you what a strong heart pressure I have felt the last days, because I did not have any answer to my two letters and also because during the night and day I have had ill-fated thoughts and dreams. (…) I was forced to take a purgative since the head vertigoes were very frequent and terrible. I eat less than a small bird and even so, I generally have a swollen stomach.”


In spite of his weak health he writes: “I always have my mind occupied in the Lord or in the studies”. His letters of these years show him as a good observer of life and men, realities he paints with such graphic sentences and so free that impress those who read them. The main religious themes are: the lively sensation of the eternal among the temporal, the strong faith in God and His power, the presentiment of his future participation in the mystery of the cross as his key point in his abundant apostolate and the full confidence in the protection of Mary.



October 1732-November 1737


The first assignment to practice the Piarist ministry was Turi. Bari Province, where he arrived in October 1732, four years after his first profession. Writing to his father, he says: “I dedicate myself to carry out my classes, being a little tiresome, with great dignity and respect, at home, among the students, and outside, being an enemy of chattering and a friend of my room, of studying and of prayer”.


Pompilius Mary is still very much attached to his family and to the human honor.  He writes: “God knows that my holy and right objective is to regain the honest flourishing of our paternal home through my fatigues and my life, ennobling myself, re-conquering some of the buried familiar honor”.


One year later, in 1733, he is assigned to Francavilla Fontana school, where he would remain for three full courses. During these years, he becomes sub-deacon, deacon and priest, and he leads the Death and Prayer Archconfraternity starting the apostolic work that will continue his whole life, the cult to the death persons, as an expression of one the most characteristic peculiarities of his spirituality: almost the perception of the eternity from this earth.


In one of his letters he writes: “I have been assigned as a Teacher of Rhetoric, a subject the Order has given to me without any merit on my part and I am fulfilling it since three moths ago with some satisfaction of the Order and of the students”.


On other letter: “I don’t ask any help (for the Priesthood ordination). I only request that you may ask God that I may prepare well, since I ruminate always that sentence: My God and my whole”. This sentence is like a strong fire that illumines the interior of his soul and it reveals us another characteristic of his spirituality: the deeply understanding of the mystery of God. The word God will be the most repeated in his letters and besides that with a really meaningful characteristic: he writes it twice, three times and even four times in a row: “God, God, God, God and nothing else”. But this will happen after the encounter of Brindisi, where he arrives at the end of 1736.


He feels like a living part of his family that started to break down: “I have read and re-read your letter with tears, sighs and kisses…May it happen because of the love of God: I cannot say anything else, so much as I am writing this with a torrent of tears…I ask the brothers, with tears on my eyes, that they may show a little shame on their faces, taking into consideration the motto written on the top of the door of our home: honour and virtue are the eternal patrimony of the Pirrotti’s house.”



Christmas 1737


Just one year after this, on December 1737, he starts a novena of preparation for Christmas and he surprises us with a solemn declaration, where we see him, on one hand, totally submerged in a deep vision of God, and on the other hand, with an indescribable feeling of his human misery.


The deep study of his words and the consequences that fact had in his later existence, take us to affirm that it was a mystical grace, given to him in an unexpected way by God that unifies his life and liberates it of the negative things of his character, without modifying it.


Pompilius Mary continued being particularly affective and sensible, physically and psychologically, inclined to unbalance, easily hurt in his interpersonal relations. But, in spite of everything, from the time of this grace in Brindisi, the oddities and excesses with live together with a profound life in the Spirit, and a coherence line with his priestly-teaching ministry. Sometimes he will be sunk in depressions that will last months, and every time he will come up to continue “the fighting for souls”, as he used to say.


The grace of Brindisi introduced him in a strong spiritual life, radical and efficacious, that sustained him in his profound somatic-psychological unbalances and that finally, as we will see it, recomposed his system.


We keep four solemn declarations or “protests of death” dated between December 16 and January 19, 1737. They are the keys to understand his future life.  They are fruits of the light that illuminated his intelligence and set on fire his heart, until it reached a new level in the knowledge of love and on a superior degree. They are, in a few words, the declarations of the principles of the apostle that was born there.


Let us transcribe some parts of the second declaration: “… my Lord…knelt before your holy  image…I ask forgiveness… and as a first protest of my repentance, I protest to hate, because of your love, those things estimated by the world: dignities, honors, glories; and to value the dishonors, humiliations, miseries (…) I declare in public that I don’t have attachment to any creature thing; I declare again, my Lord, that I will only use, because of necessity and naturally, the things I will meet near to me on my way and given by the Order. And even I promise to avoid them when it could be possible. (…) I want to follow the naked Jesus, on the naked cross, being myself naked and I promise it, from now on, from the bottom of my heart. My Jesus, take you my public declaration and give it value with your holy grace. I only love you. I only have confidence in you. Alas, world! Alas foolish of me!  I have offended you, while I should have loved you more than others…


I embrace your Cross: I unite myself to it. To glory myself is far from me, but in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. My beloved Redeemer, listen to me, give me and keep your grace in me. I despise the whole world. I despise all the things of this world. My God and my whole! I only wish sufferings in this life, my beloved Jesus: burn here, cut here, and do not allow anything here, so that you may forgive in eternity”.




Although we may be repeating, we copy completely the third protest: “A protest made by me, Pompilius Mary, on the Christmas night of 1737, in Brindisi. I want it to be valid, poor sinner of me, at the hour of my death. On the other hand, I want that this protest might be as a grace of God, my Lord, from whom I hope to obtain in this world to suffer for Him and for the salvation of the redeemed souls and later on, on the other world, to be able to praise Him for all eternity.


Oh, my Lord, I would like to find myself at the moment of death only with this notebook, written on my knees before the image of the Cross! My Jesus, hear me!


I promise and I declare before you, my Jesus, that I will live completely detached from the world, and if I could and it would be allowed, I would like to walk naked for your love. At least I will live far away from all comfort, as much as I could. I promise, my Jesus, not to expect from the world but what you had, that is to say, sufferings and contempt; to suffer and to be despised for your love. I promise, my Jesus, that I will try not to commit again any mortal sin, not even venial, as long as my human frailty would allow me, although having confidence in you; I will be able to do everything.  I can do everything with you, who strengthens me with your grace. My Jesus, it is better to die than to offend you again. How much I dislike having offended you! How much it hurts me and how much I repent of my past life!


Lord Jesus, who endured for me the sufferings and the insults of the cross, have mercy on me, especially during the agony of my death. My beloved Jesus, these acts, these protests and these promises that I write by my own hand, make them be supported by your infinite merits and may they help me at the moment of my death.


No more sins, my Jesus. I will never offend you again. Never again, in my life! It hurts me to have sinned. I want to amend what I did. My beloved Redeemer, Never will happen again that I would offend you.


What I have written is written. Better to die than to offend you again.”


After a few years, this young Piarist, working at the school, will become the Apostle of the Abruzos region and the fighter against the religious deviations of his time: illuminism, Jansenism and quietism.


The Fr. General thought about Pompilius Mary sending him for a new foundation in Ortona a Mare. At the end of the year he writes to him: “I have received your letter of November 30 and I see your religious sentiments and the detachment from your relatives, wanting to go far away, according to the maxims of the Holy Gospel; therefore I again assure myself, even more, of the good dispositions of you, and I had them before about your religious goodness (…) Being now thinking about a new foundation, I have already thought about you, going you there…”




In March 1739, he arrives at Ortona a Mare, a small Adriatic maritime town, in the Abruzos region. He worked as a professor at the diocesan seminary, among material and psychological bad conditions, but inside him there was burning the apostolic fire. He desired the blessing of the Virgin, and asked permission to go to Loreto, the famous Marian sanctuary of the Las Marcas region, and it was given to him.


On the 21st of August, he writes to Fr. General: “we are suffering here the most terrible pains you could imagine, exposed to the murmuring of all, dedicated to the direction of some young seminarian men, being most of them unruly, and I have gotten strong pains and heart troubles, because of the discomforts and pressures.”


During this time, the Piarists lived, with other Religious, the dispute of who had the right to teach the so called “major sciences”. The Pope decided in favor of the Piarist Schools.


In 1740, Pompilius Mary started the popular missions. His seminarian students would say about him that he explained kneeling Latin, Rhetoric, Physics and Sciences, and that he would not neglect the preaching and attending the spiritual and material misery of the people of Ortona, who venerated him as a great servant of God and as a learned one.


The missionary anxiety took him to write to the Pope asking to name him Apostolic Preacher: “… I kneel at your feet with this scruffy letter. Christ gives me that command, through an interior light, and it urges me constantly (…) I would like that S.S. would kindly give me the authority of an Apostolic Missionary, to sow among the people and cities the germ of God’s word (…) I will go with your apostolic authority declaring war to vices, procuring medicine to the souls…”


At the beginning of his first preaching to the people, he started advising them the daily communion, not in use then and being suspicious for those relying on Jansenism. From here came the first difficulties in his ministry: The Military Commander of Pescara warned him. For us, today, it seems unthinkable. At that time, the civil and ecclesiastical faculties were not very well fixed. On this occasion, the Bishops defended him.


A diocesan priest, Fr. Marcantonio di Annibale, was impressed by the preaching of the Piarist Father and he took him to the mission of Francavilla a Mare. There happened an empathy between Pompilius and the people, generally with a strong faith but without much knowledge; and this was a constant phenomenon in all places he preached during his whole life. There are testimonies of his work, from morning till evening. After the last sermon in the evening, he made a penance procession, hitting himself with an iron flag. People used to imitate him and since the discernment between fanatic and mystic is difficult, the accusation came upon the preacher. But the people always went around him, kissing his hands and cutting some pieces of his poor cassock.


He repeated the mission in Pescara and Castellmare. In this last place, he made a procession with a cross and a statute of the Sorrows Virgin, patroness of the town. The cross and the Virgin were always his two loves. There, he started, too, the apostolate among the nuns, from where he will receive great headaches during his whole life and many persecutions, many times because of Puritanism and the hypocrisy of the time, in opposition to his expressive affectivity.


Pompilius Mary established and directed in Ortona a Confraternity, the means employed then for the Christian formation of lay people. The classes in the seminary, the popular missions and the Confraternity, required a strong energy, but his weak strength would not stand without the strength of the Spirit.





In 1742 was transferred to the next town, Lanciano. The people received him with the fame of a man of God. He took care of the school, the preaching and the confessional. When he was only for two years there, the Spanish Nuncio before the King of Naples, got that he would be transferred to Naples, but because of political reasons, he did not leave Lanciano. He writes: “I am in Lanciano, where the hard works are many. I steal from my sleep the necessary time, although I never rest on my bed, but rather I sleep on the floor and the Great Lady keeps me (…) One has to get tired for the sanctification of the whole world”.


The new Bishop in the city and the Bishop form Cieti, both with a Jansenism sting without noticing it, suspended Pompilius Mary from preaching, believing that they were defending the ecclesiastical discipline. “God allows everything and His plans are wonderful in everything”, he writes.


In August 1745, he receives a letter from Fr. General: “the two favours you ask me, to preach during Lent and to make an spiritual retreat during some time, are already granted”. At the end of the year he is allowed to make a mission in Penne.


The year 1746 starts with two apostolic works, Spiritual exercises to two nun convents and to the Clerics of Penne, and the Lent Preaching at Castellmare. At that time he preached 150 sermons, sketched out in 110 paper sheets. People started talking about healing and miracles. After Lent ended, he went back to his school in Lanciano.


In June 1746, he receives the license of preaching during Lent and Advent in all dioceses of our Piarist Province of Naples, and the permission to make a pilgrimage to Loreto, which he never used. In November, Fr. General writes to his Rector: “Because of the rumours I have received, I would see with good eyes if you could put away Fr. Pompilius Mary from the Dioceses of Chieti and Lanciano, and I think of taking away the license of preaching in them.


The reason could not be but the way of fulfilling his ministry of the word (preaching, confessions and spiritual direction). If in the Theology of that time there was a difficult theme, it was the theme of the relations between the intimate relations between the faithful and God. The shadow of Molinos could be seen in every trying regarding this matter. Pompilius Mary was not frightened by this and he led couples and Sisters towards the mystical union with God, forming them in the love of Christ in the Eucharist. His spiritual affectivity made him the opposite pole with the Jansenism rigidity. We keep 862 letters of spiritual direction where we can find the constant fight of the Piarist Father with the heresy.


In the year 1747, there happened the first great tribulation of Pompilius Mary in this combat. It happened as a consequence of his Lenten preaching in Tornareccio. He performed some activities that were considered excesses by his rivals.  Impelled by his fervour, he left the town with a heavy wooden cross on his shoulders, crowned with thorns, naked feet and two big chains, accompanied by some clerics and faithful. In this way, they walked more than seven miles.


During the months of March to June, he made an apostolic campaign in five regions. At the beginning of July, Fr. General receives a letter from the Bishop of Lanciano, accusing Pompilius of grave excesses and urging the departure from his Dioceses. Fr. General commands Pompilius Mary to go from Pescara, where he was, to Naples, without crossing Lanciano, his community, and he asks to watch and observe his spirit “Since some people have said many things about his way of living and his behaving with both sexes”.


Pompilius did not amend these excesses, thanks God. He was accused of them many times during his life.


The expulsion made him sick: nerves attacks and deep depression. This is the first time that appears clearly the relation between the nervous sicknesswith the psychic tension, produced by the persecutions, where his Brothers had also something to be blamed.





The life of an exiled person is not easy. And it is not better the life of a Religious that arrives to a Community accused of heresy and licentiousness. When he arrives to the School of Duchesca, Naples, in the middle of August, 1747, he finds a letter of the Order’s Vicar: “I rebuke the faculty of hearing confessions and preaching. All your work will be teaching and staying in our house living together with the Religious. Besides that, I don’t think suitable to give you permission to go to visit your parents”. At the same time he tells Fr. Provincial: “Although I have prohibited Fr. Pompilius Mary to preach and to hear confessions, nevertheless, I would like him to preach on Saturdays in our church, to increase the devotion to that miraculous image of the Blessed Virgin (…) I ask you, from the bottom of my heart, to fix a Father who would judge his spirit, to see if it is true or not (…) You will inform me, with simplicity, if Pompilius Mary laments the fact that he was calumniated or persecuted; if he is hurt because of the suspension of preaching and hearing confessions; if he complains of the work at school; if he is meek towards the obedience, ready to anything, humble and in peace, in his will as well as in his intelligence.


Thanks God, we have documents where he himself tells us how was his spiritual situation: “I am upon the cross and I hope to imitate our beloved Jesus… to suffer, to suffer and not to die (…) I would like to go where nobody would have any news about me (…) What can one expect from a world where falsehood reign? (…) Let the tempest pass until we arrive to the best place for the soul, the only thing to be desired”.


The Bishop of Lanciano asks again to Fr. Provincial not to allow him to go back. In August 1748, the town was still claiming his return. One month later, he is transferred to another school in Naples, Cartavaggio. In the catalogue of the house we read: “Fr. Pompilius Mary, 38 years old, teacher of Rhetoric during thirteen years, mediocre in Humanities, Lenten Preacher and now yearly, Wonderful religious, of good fame”.





By surprise – everything is a surprise in the life of this Father – around the middle of October 1748; Fr. General called Fr. Pompilus Mary to go to Rome, as a theologian-consultant of the Cardinal of York. To observe him in person? To keep him far away from Lanciano? He remained there between October 16 and December 28.


Again he writes from Naples: “What can I say about Rome? Son, the Blessed Mother has worked clear miracles. What honours and veneration of those Prelates and Cardinals! What desires to be advised and have direction and counsel from this poor man of mine! What confusion that I had the obligation to preach before them! Oh, how much love and delicacy in all our Superiors! The young people from the Nazareno School were attached to me (…) but the poor Fr. General, after receiving a claim from our Caravaggio School and from many ladies, and admitting the real necessity, he asked me with tears to return to Naples”.


And as a contrast, he writes in the same letter: “I don’t have a moment for me. I walk through Naples with the knapsack on my neck, begging for alms, doing any kind of job, even becoming a helper in the kitchen. I like doing things, fulfilling the will of God”.


Fr. General went to Naples in February 1749 and he allows him to preach during Lent in Atesa, a town of the Abruzos, not so far from Lanciano. This means his rehabilitation before the Superiors. Here, his fame of sanctity grew higher, in such a way that the people of the town went close to touch him and to cut some pieces of his clothes. When they tried to pay him he refused the money (fifty piastras) with these words: “I came from Naples to preach and to save souls, not to receive money”.


We know that in 1751 he was elected Provincial Assistant, but his evangelical intransigence will make impossible to remain during a long time in the job. Two years later he resigns the Assistant job and the active and passive voice in the chapters (the power to elect and to be elected).


The Yearly Preacher nomination he got was an object of ambition, because of the fame and because of the money one could get. At that time there exists what they called the money each religious could get for himself with the permission of the Superiors. This was also a cause of antipathy, talks and calumnies, in spite that the few times he received stipends; he used them for charity works and for the liturgy.




The year 1754 was a key year for the history of the Pious Schools in Italy.  And it was also for the life of Pompilius Mary. The Apulia Province was created, but our protagonist remains in the Naples Province and he establishes the Archconfraternity of the Charity of God, in the church of Caravaggio, where he worked and suffered so much. In the same year, the Cardinal Sersale starts his Office, the one who one day will exile Pompilius from Naples.


We have the statutes of the Archconfraternity written by Pomplilius Mary. In them we can find some aspects of his typical spirituality: the frequency of the sacraments, with the Mass and Communion; a charity without classes, universal, born from the authentic love of God; the power of the good example, as an apostolic method of social reform; the refusal of any business, profit or interest; the remembrance of the eternity as a present reality, since the objective is the remembrance of the dead persons; the mutual assistance of the brothers. And the last special aspect for those times: The conscience of the Church, in communion with the whole Christian family of God.


When he arrived to Naples, there was already eight year that Saint Alfonsus Mary of Liguori was working there, trying to get the approval of his new Redemptorist Congregation. The great leader was in full battle against the heresies that were going around. The 1751 was the year when appeared in France the first volume of the “Encyclopedia”, a vehicle of the Philosophical illuminism, and Saint Alphonsus published his famous book The Glories of Mary, and since then he was working on the work that made him immortal, The Moral Theology, published between the years 1753 and 1755. We are saying that the year 1754 was a key year in the life of Pompilius Mary. Saint Alphonsus, with his book, faces the false doctrines that were infecting society: regalism, freemasonry, Gallicism, febronianism. In Naples, Saint Alphonsus was asking the approval of his Congregation and Pomplilius the approval of this Archconfraternity of the Charity of God, from the same people.


His apostolate in the church of Caravaggio caused him many conflicts. The first one was with the Brothers in Community. But the greatest problems came from the leadership of the Archconfraternity. He was involved in an atmosphere of tensions and passions and at the end he became a victim of them. Two religious led the opposition to Pompilius Mary, Frs. Anastasio Caro (Provincial) and Antonio Andrizzi (Rector), two Piarists, already with a relaxed spirit, being that the atmosphere of the Church during that historical time. Fr. A. Caro denounced him, before the General, of too much zeal, impetuosity, disorders among the people with his eccentricities and going around the city at night. The General answered: “ give the order to the Father to abstain from any actions that are characteristic of his (…) Since you, in your letter, writes among his actions to go out of the house at night, I believe it can be corrected giving him the order of remaining at home 24 hours...”


When the order was communicated, his nervous exploded and he became in a depression crisis that forced him to remain in bed. After Fr. General was informed, he writes: “I disliked the sickness of Fr. Pompilius Mary… I want to be used with him all the possible charity…since he is a distinguished Father of that house and the church. But that charity should not change in any way the orders I have given to you (…); to the disorders should be given the proper remedies, but with the smallest murmuring and complication, from him and from his admirers. This denunciation, done before the Cardinal, carried with it the expulsion from Naples of the Father.


In the exile of Pompilius Mary took part all the authorities: the King, through his Ministry Boncone, the Archbishop, Cardinal Sersabe, and, above all, his two Brothers of habit. These two were the ones who gave the said data, who deceived the authorities. There were also important persons who wrote in his defense. 



January- August 1759


As a consequence of all of this, Pompilius Mary left Naples around January 20, 1759. From this period we have few written data. We feel that somebody made them disappear.  He went to Chieti, but with the order of, no preaching, no hearing confessions, and to be isolated with the people outside; he could celebrate Mass alone. He was in this town only four months, since Chieti belonged to the Naples Reign and his expulsion covered the whole territory.  During this short time, he left home only once, but he received many visits from the neighbouring towns and he wrote some spiritual direction letters to different monasteries.


His new assignment was Ancona, belonging to the Roman Province, but for civil rights, to the Pontifical States. Upon leaving Chieti and through his going through the cities he stayed, the scene was always repeated: the people got together to ask his blessing and kissing his hands and feet. It was already a public voice that he had the charism of healing, discernment, prophesy and miracles. The trip took a month. Fr. Marcantonio di Annibale, the Diocesan priest who did so much for Pompilius Mary, made an account to Fr. General of the marvellous things of the trip and asked him permission to allow him to preach during Lent in his Church. Fr. General answered him: “I use the occasion to give you my sincere thanks, that never will be equal to the benevolence you have given to that Religious of our Order, whom I esteem so much (…) I am very sorry  I can’t fulfil your desires, since I thought of using the Father in other place”.


Only a short time was Pompilius in Ancona. He received a letter from the General: “the Provincial of Toscana… has showed a great interest and desire of sending you, at least for a time, to his house of Lugo (a very small town of La Romana, almost at the extreme of Italy, on the opposite side of Naples), where we have a Parish and a Church with much devotion (…), a good occasion to make good to people and to procure the good of our Order”.


Of this trip, Fr. Marcantonio wrote: “I tried that he would go with plenty of white clothes and money, to meet his own necessities, but God, who wanted him to suffer continually, made him become sick in an inn, after arriving to the city of Forli; he asked to be carried to the inn of the poor, without telling anybody who he was, and the good owner of the inn stole him all the money and clothes; and after he became well, he continued his trip without making any complaint, begging for his food and needs”.



September 1759-May 1762


“When I arrived to Lugo, on September 23, 1759, it was Sunday. The made me understand that I would remain there for a short time”. He found in those Piarist Brothers, true Brothers. They were working with the poor, in a poor place and with the problems of a foundation in a special difficult place. The Canons were against them. Soon they inform about him: “He is a Religious of solid virtue, fond of being alone and obedient. He gives the impression of being always happy and completely in peace with the will of God… Everyday, he gains more honour…He is going to do much good in this Parish”.


With the permission of the Bishop of Imola, he went to Correggio, Lombardy, where he gave spiritual retreats to the clergy, the nuns of Saint Clare and to the people. We keep a sworn testimony that goes likes this: “…the Father… gave spiritual exercises to the clergy of Correggio; he did it in the church of the Saint Joseph of the Piarist Schools, during eight days… The clergy were not only very satisfied, but also very surprised and admired at the deep doctrine, robbing the hearts of all…”


At the beginning of December, 1760, he was asked to preach at Comacchio, Bishop’s place. From there he writes four letters, where he expresses with humility and clarity: “the Lord wants me among these works, but I don’t get tired. He is he one who does everything. He is the one who works. I am only a miserable voice shouting in the dessert”. In another occasion he had written with the same conviction: “as soon as I go up to the pulpit, everybody gets excited and noisy”


His schedule of work was like this: “I have now three occupations: I preach to the priests in the afternoon; during the day, to the people; and morning and afternoon, to those who are going to be ordained…And the multitude of people who want to confess”… There is not in his letter even one note of sore resentment for the work we have seen before.


The year 1761 is the year of apostolic fecundity. The people of Lugo, who received the Piarist Fathers with some fear, increased by those who were in charge, were bent, little by little, at all levels of society. The church of the Piarist Fathers became the center of spirituality in the city, with envy from Religious of other Congregation. The Sisters in Lugo and other cities near by, went to drink from that fountain. “While I write –Pompilius Mary affirms – my room is full of people who come for talking and to confess and for conversion. Oh, how much we have to do in Lugo…! I live with my beloved Jesus and I want to become a saint”.


In another letter we can see the devotion of the son of Calasanz to the Founder, at that time still a blessed: “I have received the precious and holy relics of our Blessed Founder, and they arrived really on the proper time, since now I had a great necessity of his protection, because in this foundation we are exposed to great pains”. And he adds: “here is our work: to accompany dead persons, to go to the cemeteries, to sing, litanies, sermons, knapsack on the shoulders. That is all. I would like to be a hermit, but the habit requires from us to be delicate, understanding, attentive to others, all for all, so that in this way we may gain everybody to God. Long live, long live Jesus! I comfort myself with my Spouse Jesus, crucified, and I exclaim with Saint Francis Xavier: more, Lord, more”.




During this year, there is in the pages of the documents, news that will make history in the life of Pompilius Mary: the envy of two Religious from another Congregation is going to muddle the relative tranquillity in Lugo. Fr. Vivencio Cavalleti was the representative of the Inquisition and he accused him as a false prophet. The whole town was disturbed. The nobles wrote an unsigned memorial, and the Piarist Community came also in defense of the accused.


At the beginning of July, other obstacle comes out for his stay in Lugo. His admirers from Ancona obtain from Fr. General his transfer, but it remains without effect considering the requests from the Piarists in Lugo. It seems that a few months later, Fr. Cavalleti intercepted a letter of Pompilius to a Sister, and in it he found some moral and dogmatic doubts. He sent the letter to the Bishop of Imola and the Bishop commands the Superiors to take Pompilius out of Lugo, so that the Bishop would not be obliged to rebuke the permission of hearing confessions. Fr. General takes the opportunity to carry out the promise made to the people of Ancona, without giving any explanation to Pompilius, and he writes to his new Rector: “that he would not hear confessions, nor preach…that he would not go to any monastery and that he would not write letters by his own initiative or answer any person from the city or Diocesis of Ancona (…)  I add, too, that if he receives letters from Lugo, he must handle the answer to you, if he writes about spiritual or ascetic matters; and if it is a confessional matter, he would not answer or if he answers, that he might do it in a general way, telling the penitent that he can’t handle those matters by a letter. I only give him permission to confess our Religious”.


Again, the injustice and the abuse, made him become very sick: “I go to Anconahe writes on January 21, 1762 – by pure obedience…although I don’t feel well, because these nerves and these viscera give me strong sufferings, day and night. Everything, everything is not enough for my sins (…) I don’t really know the reason F., General had to give me such a sudden obedience (transfer). He could not start the trip before the 4th of May: “a sickness of three complete months has impeded it… but definitely I want to go on the 4th of May.


With the simplicity and the truth of those who walk in the Spirit, he himself summarizes in this way his stay in Lugo: “I have tried to work with all my strength, with zeal, separated from the world and with fatigue. I have not spared any work and I hope that the seed might go growing. I have put the things in their place. I have tried that the Parish would be honored and that our habit would be greatly respected”. 




If we consider the ironies the history places before us, we can see marvelous things. On his way to Ancona, Pompilius Mary, exiled because of a letter written to a Sister, writes on May 18th: “I was busy - in Ravena – finishing with those good Sisters and I had to finish immediately so as not to take more time with them, because I was really afraid of a relapse. I defended myself without eating in the morning and taking only a small piece of fish in the afternoon. Later on he writes to Fr. General: “Still I am not completely well, but I go on little by little”.


Later on he tells Fr. General: “After that I went to Saint Archangel of Rimini where the Bishop wanted me to remain there for a while for the solace of the Superior of a Benedictine Monastery…Later on he commanded me to give them Spiritual Exercises and that I would confess them (…) I feel the obligation to tell you this, to have the merit of the Obedience… as well as to ask you to really remember me in your prayers before the Lord, because these pains of my stomach and these colic make me suffer much (…) I want to become a saint and I have not yet found the way. I am completely full of self-love”.


On July 2, he is in Florence. He goes to meet the Provincial who receives him with bad manners, and without taking him into consideration, he sends him to the Novitiate House, where he had the occasion of saying goodbye to the beloved Brothers: Frs. Talenti and Quaranda. He writes about this matter in this way: “Oh, my God, what a pity those Fathers from Florence. The Provincial met me as if he would not know me. The rest of the Provincial houses, as severe judges. I love them very much and I will love them, even if they are rude, because education always is beautiful in any circumstances”.


From Florence, where he stayed only one night, he went to Fano. Here, he gave a spiritual retreat to the cleric, preached to the Philippine Fathers and he received the petition of the Bishop to come back during Christmas time for the retreat to the people and to take care of the Discalced Carmelite Sisters and the Corpus Domini Monastery.


At the end of July, he arrives to Ancona, the second time, after three months he had left Lugo in a recovering sickly way. From Fr. General we keep 50 letters about Pompilius Mary, during this long time of 1762. The number indicates his preoccupation in this matter.




In the middle of September, he has to go back to Fano for the spiritual retreat of the Discalced Carmelite Sisters, by a command of Fr. General. He stayed there until the middle of December. During winter of the following year, 1763, he went to preach Lent in Manfredonia, a town of the Naples Reign. This trip is a memorable happening in his life. He was busy almost the whole year and it was a hard test for his health and a proof of his heroic obedience. He reacted in this way: “about going to Manfredonia for Lent, I know that in those cathedrals want eloquent preachers, with many literary periods, extraordinary men (…) I am not an eloquent preacher and I do not serve to entertain lazy people in the churches, but I am made to call people to penance, with the trumpet of the sanctuary. If they want this, wonderful, I will go there. I want to say, if they are satisfied with the Holy Scripture and the Crucifix, yes. But if they are not, may they find another preacher”.


Before that afraid trip to Manfredonia, he gave one mission in Ancona, where we find again the force of the Spirit: “I am an ignorant, a coarse man, a rude. But as soon as I go up to the pulpit, I am not myself, is God who works, for my great confusion (…) I am very much busy with general confessions. All the people have been moved by a few words I said in public. Now a great harvest is gathered”.


His great love for the Order of the Pious Schools is expressed in these words: “I have loved my poor Order, but, what have I done for her?  I would like now to be a simple teacher and to serve in this way to our Blessed Fr. Calasanz; Oh, if I would have the honor of dying for my Order!”


The fear of the hardness of the trip makes him write in this way: “Around the middle of January I would like to go to Manfredonia… You know very well how hard the trip through the Abruzos and Apulia is. Therefore, I would like you to think about everything, so that I may reach that city, at least, eight days before Lent, since the “memento homo” (remember man) is this year on February 18th. If the Obedience commands it, it will be done like that (…)”.  The 240 Km is not an easy trip through those horrible places and in a very hard winter.


The impatient preacher writes: “it is January 20 and still we don’t leave. May God be blessed with such jokes (…). I don’t feel well, suffering because of these nervous pains, but as soon as the obedience would arrive, we will leave…” What happened? In Naples there were the same authorities that expelled him, although the King was not Charles III; and knowing the return of Pompilius Mary, they denied him permission to preach in the Kingdom.


Meanwhile, Fr. General writes with angry, because Pompilius Mary continues preaching and hearing confessions in Ancona and because he has returned to Falco, going to Manfredonia, without knowing the revocation of the compromise.




Until the end of the long trip he will not know the prohibition. His reaction was this: “heavy, very heavy are the jokes of our Beloved Spouse. But beautiful, very beautiful! It seems that I have to go back again after arriving to this poor city on this trip full of many dangers and disasters. I would not say that I am angry at all, because of what has happened. Never, never at all! On the contrary, I received, because of that, a great consolation. I would like to be ready even to greater sufferings. But the inferior part does not accommodate completely to suffer and to be despised. It happens that the Spouse wants us happy during the suffering, and, when one does not suffer with joy, certainly, the suffering has no value at all; it is not of any utility”.


When he wrote this letter, he had not yet become sick. But he was feeling that the inferior part would not obey him. Facing the sad things he felt with the prohibition, his physical strength became weak and he fell in bed for 10 months, until the end of October 1763, and even at the end, he was not yet completely healthy.


On September 3, Fr. General answers him that he had commanded him to return to Ancona, as soon as his health would allow him: “The Supreme God has wanted to keep me in a horrible state, with continuous fever and with such intensity that they have put me in a skeleton form, and if I am living is by a real miracle… as soon as I see that I am in the condition of leaving, I will start for Ancona…I am afraid of the rivers of the mountains route one has to cross…but I can everything in the One who gives me strength. Fr. General, I feel really the hand of God upon this poor servant in all the present happenings and I have not found rest but being alone in a small room, only with God only”.


He could not leave Manfredonia until the 4th of November. Instead of going back through the Abruzos, he took the road of S. German, that is to say, through Monstecasino. Fr. General tells Fr. Rector: “You may know that I have warned the Cardinal not to give him any work with Sisters. He has promised me that he will keep it and in his letter he asks me to put him out of Ancona…Try, as much as you can, that Fr. Pompilius might stay there just only helping in our church and not other people outside the church. The devotees of the Father should do the same; on the contrary, they will lose him”.


On the road, the sick Father writes: “Full of ailments and full of infidelities to God, I left Manfredonia…The two monasteries remained in deep pain and my work has increased having to write to so many nuns that are in need…They are jokes of our Spouse Jesus. I always looked for becoming a good religious and I tried not to have other wish but that of God. God, God and nothing else!”.


After arriving to Foligno he writes again: “I am here ten full days. My stomach is destroyed by the poor meals. Monteflorido still cannot be crossed, because there the snow is as high as two men…although I am suffering much because of the discomfort of the inn, I am happy, because in spite of everything, the will of God should be carried out in happiness… I remained alive by a miracle. I don’t know how I could remain alive among so many dead persons. The wagon-leader, together with the animals and the other passengers, were killed. I remained alive without knowing how”.


After crossing Monteflorido, he did not go directly to Ancona, but he went ahead and arrived to Fano, where he was very well taken cared by the countess of Bertoni. In Fano he receives a letter from Fr. General telling him the reason of the expulsion from Lugo: “I am not sure if you know that all your suffering and of the Order in Lugo, and that is the reason why we had to take you out of there, had the origin in some letters written to nuns, which felt in the hands of not so much prudent persons, not to say other thing, and after they were showed to the Bishop, it was necessary to take you out of Lugo. You write with simplicity, but if this does not go together with some prudence, they interpret you in a bad way with damage for the one who has written them…I have made a contract with the Cardinal so that you will only attend the cult in our church, and you will not help any other monastery. Even more, you will not answer, if you receive, any letter of nuns… I thank you for the three zequinos (money) I have received. They will serve for the chapel of our Blessed Calasanz, whose works will start soon”.



February- August 1764


The long and difficult trip from Manfredonia to Ancona, weakened the corporal energies of Pompilius Mary almost to the end. As soon as he arrived to his Piarist Community, they put him in charge of the sacristy, and with the alms of his devotees, he restores and builds the tower of the temple. He preaches and confesses in the church, gives spiritual retreat to his Brothers, helps at the school and nothing occurs in his life that would be necessary to write down as something special. From time to time, his nervous mortify him in a lenient way.


Through his letters we know that his spiritual life enters a phrase of acceleration towards sanctity. As far as the highest degrees in union with God:”love to God, love to our Piarist habit, all of them adorned with so many wonderful lights as the virtues of Calasanz were…Go to our Blessed Founder’s room – he writes to Bro. Pedro, living in Rome – and make a prayer for me, so that he might give me the proper spirit to accept the good designs of the Lord. A prudent spirit, charitable, heroic…God, God, God… You never try in your life other thing but to do, work and get tired only and in a unique way to gain God in eternity… Let us love, let us love, let us love the only authentic happiness that is born from fulfilling in happiness the divine will… Jesus, my beloved Spouse, reprimands me continually if He sees me sad and He tells me: Why are you sad? …I frequently answer Him as he answered himself: My spirit is prompt, my beloved Spouse, but the flesh is weak”.


These mystic words impress us; they are words from a life, so many times punished by the ecclesiastical hierarchy and so full of activity: “I don’t have a moment I could be free, because of frequent fatigue and delicate occupations”. The ten letters written to Bro. Pedro during this time tell us, with the liberty of the spirit, the situation of the Pious Schools in Italy and they express his meaning of following Jesus: “tell constantly: I want to follow Jesus naked, the naked Jesus and the naked cross of Jesus. The only thing you should take really into consideration should be to become a good servant of God and a good son of our beloved founder, Calasanz”.


Another test was still lacking for Pompilius Mary so to reach the apex. What a mystery that to enter into the full knowledge and love of God is necessary to enter into the sufferings of the cross! By an order of the Inquisition Tribunal (effects of the inquisitor of Lugo), Fr. General writes to Fr. Rector: “Just call the Father to your room, and in the presence of any religious chosen by you, notify him the supreme command of Rome, that he must abstain, until a new authorization, from hearing confessions, preaching and spiritual direction. You must look after the fulfillment of this supreme command and send me a testimony signed by you and by the other religious, in which you testify that the order was given to him in the terms said above. Nevertheless, Fr. Pompilus Mary could continue hearing the confessions of our Fathers.”


The answer of Fr. Rector is valiant: “by the attached testimony you will see that the order has been fulfilled. The Father has taken it in good spirit. He only dislikes – as I dislike it too – the bad image that will follow for our Order. He is not in good health; I have advised him to use this excuse when he might be required for confessions and spiritual direction. In the meantime I ask you to find the remedy, if possible, and that for our honor. I can’t understand where this shot can come from. I don’t think it comes from the Episcopal curia, because the Vicar has used the services of the Father for the prisons. I don’t think it comes either from the Inquisition, because the Inquisitor has called him three times to confess a priest in prison. But what does it mean to try to find out the secrets of the stars?  Good persons have to be persecuted”.




Ten days later, Fr. Rector writes again: “The Father is sick with convulsions since the afternoon of the Ascension; but the convulsions are such that they impede him to talk. Besides, the sickness is of such nature that since that afternoon he cannot eat, nor drink anything. This has been tested by doctors, by noblemen and by me. When he approaches the food or the drink to the mouth, vomits occur and he feels such convulsions that it seems he is dead. But by an admirable contrast, everybody admiring it, he stands and walks, he goes alone from his room to the chapel and vice-versa. Besides that, he writes his own feelings. In the morning he goes down to the church for Communion, and there he receives the host and can eat it and then we find him happy. How will all this end?  I don’t know; the three doctors that visit him several times during the day can’t foresee it. He greets reverently to you and asks your blessing; but all this is by signs”.


The strange thing of the case is that his somatic situation allowed him the use of the mental faculties and in his reflection on it reached notable conclusions. The first one was a critic one: he knew that the General wanted him to be reintegrated to his Apulia Province, and thinking about it, he affirmed: “let’s go slowly; let’s not face this second time with the obstacles we should have not faced the first one”.  The phrase is strong and it implies an accusation of imprudence of those who took him to the Manfredonia Lent.


The second was the security that his sickness was of psychic nature, since it had been repeated every time he was exiled from a city because of the problems caused by his Apostolate. This is an important conclusion and it confirms us the interpretation we have given of his sickness, especially those that occurred with the exiles from Lanciano, Naples, Lugo and the one we are facing now.


The third was, without doubt, the nucleus of the terrible test he was suffering in this occasion: God Himself was the one who inspired him the apostolic vocation and prepared for it. The whole reason of his living was his vocation and now he had to abandon, by the command of some men, the center of his apostolic work: preaching, hearing confessions and the spiritual direction. “The Cardinal has written to Fr. Rector, as a command from above, the prohibition of preaching and hearing confessions until new order. Tell him (Fr. Provincial) , by charity, to obtain for me, if I am still living, at least the faculty of hearing confessions, since everything is but envies from a Religious of other Congregation from Lugo… I don’t care anything regarding my person, but rather for the honor of our Piarist habit, since I laugh at this and I always repeat: more, Lord, more.  We have to follow Christ to Calvary, not to Tabor”.


Everything is curious, if not strange, in this sickness; it started the Asuncion day and it concluded the day of the Holy Cross.  During this time, he did not talk (write) anything but about the cross. This is his great lesson for us: “the solemn day of the Holy Cross, I went to the church as mute, to receive Holy Communion, and immediately I decided to say Mass. During the night, in dreams, I felt like saying it. I said it and I continue like this (with voice). I am a misery and only the knowledge that it is necessary to accept the suffering, gives me courage. I just go on trying… I would like to go to a novitiate house as a master of novices, to be away from everything, but in the Order it is necessary not to look for and not to reject anything”.



September 1764- April 1765


The end of the long attack of nervous did not coincide with the end of the spiritual test Pompilius Mary was suffering. This lasted six months, the time he remained in Ancona. The cause of his suffering was different. His fifteen letters of this period tell us about them. When they tried to put him out of Ancona so that the people would not know the punishment of the Inquisition, they thought of taking him to Naples. Then the old wound of his exile from Naples became vivid again. “In relation to the Roman Tribunal matters (the Inquisition) and of Naples (the possible transfer), cause me some uneasiness, since now I am in a Piarist Province that is not mine.  The demon knows that he accomplishes well his office. Look the way to recommend me to the Lord, so that I would not remain crushed by this cross of being in an alien province and with this suspension, that I thought they were going to lift it up. The looking of my Brothers bothers me… As it happens in Communities, there are bad looking, always infected with little envies…I try to dissimulate and to behave in a convenient manner, being kind, affable … treating everybody with kindness, with gentility and with submission. I don’t remember I have done any bad even to an ant, during the years I have been in the Pious Schools… Therefore, my Spouse Jesus will have pity upon my ingratitude”.


The living of the Spirit gives to Pompilius Mary the liberty of calling a spade a spade. “How many scenes have made me suffered (Jesus) in the Pious Schools? Oh, my God! And what cases! Not everybody can bear to live in a strange province! It is necessary to have a good stomach to be able to digest so many bitter fruits…and to attend to everybody equally, without avoiding anybody…just becoming like a deaf, blind, mute…because we are “religious” (fray) and the religious have the docility of never being satisfied and of desiring everything for themselves, without thinking about others… That is why one needs to have patience and prudence.


With the same liberty he criticizes the “negative”, he praises the positive. “Give my regards to Fr. Procurator… take good care of him and have a strong preoccupation about him because at present there is a great scarcity of whole men. And from the existence of this kind of men comes, for Apulia, as well as for the Order, a great firmness… He is a jewel of our Order and to keep him alive is to keep the glory and utility of the Pious Schools and in this way the advancement of the honor of God”.





April-July 1765


The Piarist house of Campi Salentina, on the Southern part of Apulia, in the Lecce region, was in a bad internal situation. One embittered and out of mind religious was on the brink of destroying that novitiate house, founded by the same Calasanz. He sowed discord among the novices and they signed, without knowing the content, a document that was sent to the King of Naples. It was an accusation against the Master of Novices.


Pompilius Mary knew the situation of Campi since October 1764, as we can understand by his letters. But what he did not know was that some months later he was going to be transferred there. Considering the request presented by the Piarist Fathers, the Camara of Saint Clare gave the answer on January 21, 1765. In it we can find all the accusations against the Father, of 1759 when he was exiled from the kingdom, as well as those of 1763, when the trip to Manfredonia. And it is decided that he can go back to the kingdom, as long as he obeys his Superiors, with the condition that he would not reside in the Capital, and the local governor should send periodical reports about him.


After the Fathers got the green light, it was thought to send him to Manfredonia, but the thinking was changed. Campi could be the house that could more benefit from the sanctity of the Father, and that is the reason why he was sent there. The Obedience is signed on March 30; on April 15 he leaves Ancona. He considered himself as suspended until he arrived to Lecce. On July 21 he writes in his diary that he preached for the first time in Campi. But the General even reminded Fr. Provincial, in October, that the Roman Inquisition has Fr. Pompilius Mary as suspended. .


We keep his diary of his trip. The value of this diary resides on the fact that it shows us the union degree he kept with God. The first thing worthy to be remembered is the name he gives to the three divine persons: my daddy, my spouse, my beloved dove. The Trinitarian rhythm continues without interruption since it starts on April 15, 1765, dedicating each day to one of the three persons.


Until the end of July of this year, he writes the places he was passing through, adding small details of some happenings and telling us, exactly, where he was celebrating Mass. He does not fail even one day. Sometimes, very few, he adds the reasons why he stays longer in his trip. 


The first stage was Ancona-Rome. He left in a good mood. The people were moved. In Loreto he stayed three days: “on Saturday I had the opportunity of being closed in the Virgin’s room”. Even on the third day, he says Mass in the holy chapel. “I wanted to say goodbye to the beautiful mama, but she did not want to”. On the 23 of April, he arrived to Foligno, he went to visit the Sisters, whose names he writes down and on the 25th, he rested in Spoleto, a city of Franciscan memories. Two days later he arrives to Rome: “at the custom office there was much trouble. Oh, my beloved Love, ceremonies and hand-kissing; in this way the first day in Rome ended” “On April 30, it was your day; oh my beloved Daddy, and I left Rome. Although they did not want me to leave…I said Mass on the altar of our Blessed Father Calasanz”.


Second stage: again in the Abruzos.  Three days of a trip through Ritti and Aquila, and the fourth day he met his good friend D. Marcantonio. With him he went around the neighboring towns, where he had done so much good with his “eccentricities”, almost 20 years before.




On the way from Chieti to Sulmona, the one who was supposed to take him on a horse, robbed him of everything and abandoned him. On May 22, he entered Averna where he stayed for six days. On the 30th, in the afternoon, he arrived to his native place, Montecalvo. Only four of his brothers were still living. He left his native place on June 17. For him, the years he had been out of his town were like centuries. What an abysm between the young impulsive man that ran away to the novitiate and the “grown up” mystic, imbued by the Holy Trinity! One testimony of that time tells us that he was the one who introduced for the first time the devotion of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and – the witness continues – at the request of my mother, he wrote the novena. At the same time, the people believed that some of the things that happened during those days in Montecalvo were miracles of God in order to honor his servant.


On the 21, he arrived to Trani, where he stayed for a week, without telling us in his diary the reason why. In Lecce, beautiful city of the Salentine peninsula and capital of the region, stayed eight days, accompanied by the War Commissary, old spiritual person of the Father. He was the one who took him in his ship to Campi, ten miles from Lecce, and the one who took care of telling people of the near towns about his arrival, so that they could gain from the sanctity of Pompilius Mary. We are on July 12, 1765.


Upon arriving to Campi, his diary continues one month before his death, but we only find in it one thing: the unchanging alternation, always the same, of the names of the Holy Trinity. It could be said that there was nothing in this world that could take him out of the intimacy with God, as a true prelude what the eternity will be; but he will not fall into the apostolic inactivity, on the contrary. When we read his mail, one is surprised between the contrasts with this apparent monotony: Pompilius Mary, the one who writes to Bro. Pedro, is an active Pompilius, who goes around, to serves people, gives advice and puts remedy to almost everything; and he suffers for truffle things.


“God keeps me alive thanks to a miracle of the Beautiful Mama. And I see and touch with my hands that God wants something great… The honor of God should take preference to our comfort… This is the only reason of my working, sleeping and eating: the glory of God, the glory of God and nothing else”. This is the spiritual world in which the Father lived, the one which explains his great activity and the success of it. He failed in opening the school in Lecce, but he was a success in transforming the Community of Campi.




The Piarist in Campi had given serious scandals to the people and province of Lecce. They were led by rivalries and the two groups went to find help outside the Community, reaching even the King of Naples. It is terrible the descriptions Pompilius Mary makes of the situation: “what can I tell you, my beloved Pedro, about the school? Here, the situation is absurd: everybody is in bad mood; the Prussian birds fighting the Austrians; terrible faces. There is not concord or religious harmony; muddy minds; small fear of God; nothing similar to observance; nothing about good manners, good behavior or charity; everybody is at adds; there not exit the queen of all virtues, that is to say, the paternal discretion (…)”


“What a confusion! Run away, run away from these cruel lands. They are really Prussians. I could not believe such rudeness and so small gentility. Run away, run away… I would run to Lecce , from there to Trani, from Trani to Foggia, to Mandfredonia, or if not, to Ancona (…) Long live always my spouse Jesus, that he wants me to stay in Campi, where I am really disgusted because I don’t see but strange rudeness and cannot be seen but a behavior far from the religious charity (…)”


“I had asked my spouse that he would take me to a place where I could do penance for my sins. And He really has chosen the proper one for my nature, to which any un-educated behavior gives me a terrible hurt in every sense. It is talked about the canonization of our Blessed Father; I would like the Pious Schools to be canonized and that we would start watching in ourselves the piety and not the rudeness, the piety and not the falsehood, the piety and not the pride and arrogance, the piety and not the slavery in the service of God, Supreme Good, who wants to be served in happiness, with assurance and with gracefulness, and he wants that we might be very sensitive to the essential of the Liturgy (…) The Lay Brothers is a group of rascals and pigs, who do not have fear of God and do not know what it means to work for God. They have a great necessity to be recommended before God, since anything else is to lose time.”


We have read the picture of the situation. His letters give us hints about the remedy he saw: “I go giving hints with good manners, I smile, I make fun and try to make jokes (…) If I had to remain in Campi, I would pay attention to four essential points: the chapel, the dining-room, where we eat like pigs… since they feed the dogs and cats using the same plates that are used for the Fathers”…


Soon he had the opportunity of putting into practice his plan: Fr. Rector resigned and was substituted by him since the 24 of August. Together with the job of Superior, he took care of the novices, although he was never appointed Master of Novices. After just a month of taking the responsibility, he writes: “I see that the things change aspect in a hurry. I hope that all the disorders will be easily remedied, and especially we will be able to give good example to the people (…). The school seems a different one: everybody tries to take care of himself, they accept to follow me, because I treat them with charity. No more Prussian faces. I make them talk in the dining-room and during the recreation time. I myself watch the kitchen and the dining-room. If it would not be because of the expenses in the chapel, for which I am making new pews, a seat for the Superior and one altar, I would make also some repairing in the offices. But I cannot. I am hurt because of the church, which is without holy things (…). I promise myself to go constantly through the classrooms. I will try that the lay people might see what our Institute is and I will lead the teachers as much as possible (…) Little by little I will try to know the economy and I will inform you about it. I have not seen the books, yet”.


Two months before his death he writes: “I have already written to you about the two novices that took the habit. They behave well. I attend and educate them according to my spirit – study and piety - and I do it with fervor (the Piarist motto is ‘piety and learning’). Now, the Piarist habit is honored in the whole Campi and thanks are given to the Lord for the calm, after so many thunders. Everything goes like a clock (…). The whole weight of the house is upon my shoulders. The good treasure Father is sick… and I have to think about the daily food, and only God knows how we can get it. But more, Lord, more”.






And he had to suffer even more: “I cannot imagine how was it possible that our good Fr. Procurator General would dare to write to me, without any foundation, a letter so terribly strong. I will remember it all my life. The things you are accusing me, have never crossed my mind even in dreams.  (…) I do not pretend to become a Provincial, not a Rector, not even anything at all (…), since I am here, in Campi, as a poor Lay Brother, serving the Community (…) Let us be happy and let put away our pains. Let us love God and everything will go well”.


For the first time becomes sick facing a big annoyance. But the letter of November 21 shows us that he is suffering a big feeling of culpability that gives him pain, thinking upon what he writes to Bro. Pedro: “Although I have been for a long time in the Institute, I have not yet been accustomed to receive the blows from the hands of the Lord, who is all love, although I know very well that everything is allowed by the will of God, who does everything for our good. Write to me telling me that you forgive me. In this way, I will be in peace and I will have consolation”. 


The feeling of culpability was always with him, although it never crushed him: his mystical life saved his weak and strange psyche. What he did during his last year of life, shows it perfectly: He shared with his Brothers psychic and spiritual life and with the whole town of Campi.


Pompilius Mary wanted to start the year 1788 with an act very important for him; the erection of the Way of the Cross. During the sermon he compared the Passion of Christ to a ship, able to save everybody in the sea of this world, because it has the merits of Christ.


The ordinary people and the important persons of the whole province of Lecce, gave themselves to the Father. The help they gave to him during the terrible general hungry at the end of 1765 and the beginning of 1766, shows that he got into their consciences. Without it, the Piarist Father would have no been able to carry out the humanitarian feat he carried out with the poor people of the place, according to the records we keep. The people spoke during the process of canonization of miracles and of multiplication of goods. We are sure he made them more than once, because the scarcity was terrible and the hungry was extraordinary… and the tradition says that the saint would put in his pocket or in his knapsack a piece of bread and he would go visiting the hungry persons, sharing bread and without lacking it.


He also had time for attending personally the nuns and answering hundreds of letters. “The nuns of Saint Clare say that they have never received any spiritual retreat of this kind… I did not want to receive anything from the nuns. It is enough for me to work for the glory of God and the honor of our habit. (…) The War Commissary pays for my mail I receive in great quantity. If it would not be for such a good servant of God, what could I do? ...The letters I have to answer to the Romana make me really poor”.


The fruits of his work are felt and he knows it. “Here, in Campi, the holy peace is felt like a smooth breeze. Everybody fulfills his duty. The classrooms are many and I cannot complaint about the teachers, who sees me on the alert at the entrance of the classroom”.


We reach May, just two months before his death. His preoccupation for the material things of the house accompanied him until the end. “I take care of the economy; the religious would like to spend much, but I allow them just the right amount and no more…I assure you that the house is not in debt but with me, because all the alms that arrive…I take them into the economy and I was not able to receive back even a cent…I have cultivated the lands, in spite that some legal papers are missing, which I have commanded to do; I have tried to put in order the archive, since everything was in such a mess that it was a shame”.




It is a real nice thing to read these house economy details of a man who was at the top of the mystic way: “I watch the economy of the house, because there is not any permanent contribution; there is not any wine, nor oil, the vegetables are very expensive. I can manage in some way. I spare as much as I can to be able to give to the Brothers, during Christmas some amount and clothes, according to our statutes. I am obliged to ask from Mt. Andre Maddalo, who helps me much, but they are lay people and they look for their own interests, not ours. In summery, the economy of the house worries me because the year is rather bad in the whole Leccea province, being in scarcity all things, specially the wine, the oil and vegetables. This year, even there are not dry figs in Campi (…) The year is very bad and you cannot image in what situation all the poor are, whom I help in some way through different alms, giving them  piece of bread, not from the school, because we don’t have, but from some persons who send me bread and I share it. There exists a terrible cry (…) everything is sold to a very high price, too much, and it is necessary to buy some garlics, wine and vegetables to a very high price".


And as a seagull that from the earth goes up to the highest spot in heaven, he writes: “Let take away from our side what is a stumble for us. Let us look only for God. We will meet God in eternity, other things cannot be found in eternity! Everything gets old, but God never gets old, never! Let us love God and we will have everything!


It can be understood that his room was the place of encountering of so many priests that had started to receive spiritual direction from this wonderful spiritual leader. “Here, my beloved Pedro, I can’t breathe because continually are coming to my room priests, and I would like to be lost in a hermitage (…) I have a certain warm that opens the unripe pineapples that are the people from Campi”.


Pompilius Mary was feeling his end and it made him grow in love. “I take the responsibility of the Superior in this our poor house of the novitiate, with four novices and during a year of really great scarcity. I don’t have any other help but my beloved God. My God and my all! I have God and in this way I have everything and I don’t look for anything else but the will of God in all my actions. My beloved Fr. Parish Priest: let us see ourselves in God and let us hope to see one another in the beautiful celestial land, so to be able to sing with joy the holy, holy, holy Lord God. We have known in this world, although for a short time, but we will meet again in heaven - In the happy possession of God. This world is a passing representation, just a simple distribution of roles in a comedy. Everything passes: Paradise, paradise, used to say the great Saint Philip Neri”.


It seems that during the months of May and June there happened in his soul a deepening of the mystery of God and of his giving to Him: “I find myself with God, in God, in God. It is there where I put my confidence and where I have always put my confidence. The way is to accept the will of God - in the world of Pompilius Mary ‘the wish of God’ - and always and only looking for His glory. Anyway, my son, I only look for the glory of God and I only taste God, the God’s love before which I bow my head. I venerate the divine conduct (the way of God’s working) and I adore what my beloved God permits, because the owner of the time is God, in whom all time is found. We should always wait what God wants to do, according to his divine and eternal dispositions”.




The catalogue of Campi’s house says the following, five months before his death: “Rector, public confessor, in charge of the archives and of the general and of the money box key of the Religious, Lent and yearly preacher, learned man and a saint”. 


Thinking about the general transfers after the chapters, Pompilius Mary had the feeling that he was going to be moved: “I think that I have to go out during these hot months to Apulia (…). The people from Campi are disturbed and they are afraid of my departure. But I am with my beloved God… and God and nothing else. I always adore more and more the way of God’s working”. En fact, on May 19, is elected Provincial Assistant.


But they are not the plans of his beloved Spouse. Fr. Antonio Mary Albanese wrote: “On Sunday, on the 13 of July, after he had celebrated Mass and preached to the people, he went to the confessional; but I was warned that he had fainted. We took him to his room, where he sat on a chair without wanted to rest on the bed. On Monday, he went with me to the church to receive the Eucharist. He received the Holy Viaticum at two thirty. On Tuesday, being unable to go down, I took the Holy Eucharist to his room and around two in the afternoon, we gave him the Last Unction. At the moment of his agony, he was assisted by the whole clergy of Campi and by many gentlemen that remained there until he gave his soul to the Creator that occurred at sunset. He died seated on his trunk (…)   He was really zealous and without getting tired in his apostolic life. His sickness was not known to me not to the other Fathers of the Community, although he was already suffering during thirteen days, since he used to get up in the morning with fever, and even at night, to celebrate Mass and to preach to the people. After that, tirelessly, he would sit down in the confessional and would distribute the Eucharist until noon. At lunch, he would come to the dining-room and he used to read. During the morning he answered the letters he received, exposed the Blessed Sacrament for adoration of the people and he made meditations and talks, accompanied by the rosary prayer. In the afternoon, he attended the prayer of the Community and to the supper, and although being in the dining-room, he neither takes anything at night nor at lunch. And he used to go for confessions (…) although he was with fever”.


His great friend Fr. Juan Francisco de Nobili, took care that the memory of the extraordinary happenings before his dead body, would be gathered. But it is not necessary to repeat that above those extraordinary happenings, there exists the miracle of his life, used in union with God and for the service of men and women.


On March 19, 1943, the Pope Pius XI declared him a Saint.






Be a saint, be a true son of the great Calasanz, that is to say, of peaceful customs, humble and modest; don’t worry, since you have a natural tendency to worry easily. Let us not be preoccupied with the things of this miserable world: God, only God: My God and my all.


Love God, love Him, my son, with your whole heart and do not worry about anything else. Always try to be a good Religious, not having other will but that of God: God, God, God and nothing else. Be modest, do not be curious, do not worry about the Roman greatness; to be, had been, to be in the future, three garlands without flowers. Take care in meditating about the eternity; think about the eternal years and in that way I will love you in God, and we will see in God and we will see again in the world, when God might will it, from whom we depend.


We, Religious, think very little about the eternity; we have to recognize it with shame, since frequently the Religious do not look for God, but everyone looks for himself and work for himself; we do not look for the honor of God, the honor of the habit; we look for our own advantages: from here comes the relaxation of the Religious Houses.


But it is your duty to answer with the Holy Apostle, as a brave and good disciple of Joseph Calasanz: Everything that for me was a gain, I had as a lost comparing it with Christ. Without God, everything is emptiness and the only profit is to gain Christ, serving Him in fidelity and trying to be detached from everything, even from oneself. So many lay Brothers of many Religious have become saints! You know so many cases of them, and you must become a saint, think about that. Be a good Brother, humble, charitable, respectful, modest, kind, loving poverty, a thrifty person in using the things of the house; poverty is a great vow for us and it is practiced, specially, living in parsimony.


Never be negligent in prayer, where you will always find light to put in order your life in all circumstances. But if someday, you live in the obscurity of the spirit and in aridity, try prayer even harder until God will illumine your mind with clarity. Keep away from the cunning things of the devil who with his tricks tries to keep us away from prayer, and without it, the spiritual building collapses and all the virtues die out as a plant dries out, unless we water it at the proper moment.


Take utmost care in becoming a saint, but according to the ways chosen by Jesus; never look for other ways. Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament may become your medicine, who will always keep you sound in soul and body. Never be discouraged; try only to please God. Frequently implore the help of the Virgin Mary and pray to her with simplicity. My beloved Lady, hurry to help me; never abandon me, rather, help me to become more pleasing to my Lord Jesus.


While you suppress your passions and look for the death of your own will, in order to integrate in a proper way what is in confusion, always keep a happy mood, since you are working for eternity.

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