July 15 – Saint Pompilio Maria Pirrotti

July 13, 2017

Saint Pompilio Maria Pirrotti (29 September 1710 – 15 July 1766), born Domenico Michele Giovan Battista, was born on 29 September 1710 as the sixth of eleven children to the nobleman Girolamo Pirrotti and Orsola Bozzuti – his father was a Doctor of Law. One brother was named Pompilio Maria Pirrotti. He was baptized the following 30 September.

Despite the opposition of his parents when he was sixteen he consulted with his confessor on his religious vocation and fled his parents’ home. He travelled to Benevento in order to pursue a path in a religious order. His father wrote to him a moving letter explaining his position on the matter and asking for his son’s forgiveness; Girolamo also gave Pirrotti his blessing for his son’s future.

At the age of eighteen he entered the Piarist order and assumed the name of “Pompilio Maria” in honor of his dead brother of that same name. At this time he toured various Italian regions close to his hometown during his formation in the order. He assumed the habit in the novitiate of Santa Maria di Caravaggio in Naples on 2 February 1727 and at the end of the first year of his novitiate obtained a special dispensation allowing for him not to proceed into the second; he made his solemn profession on 25 March 1728 in Brindisi and changed his name to that of “Pompilio Maria of Saint Nicholas”.

St. Pompilio Maria Pirrotti

Pirrotti was sent to Chieti in order to continue his philosophical studies but he fell ill around this period. He believed that a change of climate would be to his benefit so was moved to Melfi in Potenza where he continued his studies. He later travelled for further studies in Turi in Bari in 1733 after recovering from his illness. It was there in Bari that he served as a teacher of literature. Pirrotti returned to Naples where he was assigned to a Piarist house in Lecce as its superior and the Master of Novices.

Pirrotti was ordained to the priesthood on 20 March 1734 from the Archbishop of Brindisi Andrea Maddalena. He was stationed in Brindisi from 1736 to 1739 and was in Ortona from 1739 to 1742.

King Charles of Naples

During the famine that occurred near his hometown in 1765 he was on hand to distribute bread to the poor and to those suffering the most from the famine. He became known as a saint in his hometown and in the surrounding areas and was known for his strong Marian devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary whom he dubbed “Mamma Bella”. Pirrotti also had a strong devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and spread the devotion of the Via Crucis. He also established the “Charity of God” as a means of spreading the Christian virtues and also to support the dying.

From 1747 he began to suffer persecutions from detractors which led to him being suspended from hearing confessions on the orders of the Cardinal Archbishop of Naples Antonio Sersale. King Charles III later signed a decree that led to Pirrotti’s expulsion from the Kingdom of Naples; he rescinded the order upon increasing public pressure.

Santuario San Pompilio Maria Pirrotti

On 15 April 1765 Pirrotti began the long journey to Ancona and arrived in Lecce on 12 July 1766. After celebrating Mass on 13 July, he went to hear confessions, but was suddenly taken ill and immediately confined to his bed. He died and was buried where he was, in Apulia; but in 1966 his remains were transferred to the Sanctuary created for him, Santuario San Pompilio Maria Pirrotti.

Pope Pius XI canonized him on 19 March 1934.

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