Rorate Caeli

May Month of Mary: the Marian Life of Father Dolindo Ruotolo

Neapolitan diocesan priest and third-order Franciscan, Dolindo Ruotolo, was the author of theological, ascetical and mystical treatises as well as thousands of letters on spiritual direction. He devoted every moment of his day to prayer, penance and charity towards the sick and the poor. An unflagging apostle, his life was filled with suffering of all kinds, intensified by his decision to offer himself as a victim soul for humanity and the Church.

Don Dolindo Ruotolo (1882-1970), fifth of the eleven children of Raffaele Ruotolo, a mathematician, and Anna Valle, a noblewoman from an impoverished family of Spanish origins, was born in Naples in the Forcella district. After 14 years, his parents’ marriage resulted in a painful separation due to the brutality of his father's character and his proverbial avarice, which conflicted with his mother’s noble manner and sweetness.

In a captivating two-volume autobiography, Don Dolindo describes how his name (which means "pain") was coined by his father and how "prophetically" suffering (due to the numerous humiliations he endured, but also to economic hardship and hunger) was the factor that marked his entire existence, including his time at the seminary as well as right through his priesthood. 

He knew Saint Pio of Pietrelcina, to whom he was often likened;  but if the latter visibly showed the signs of Christ's Calvary on his body, Don Dolindo conserved them in his soul and for this was also identified as "the nouveau Apostle of interior pain ”.  On more than a few occasions, both suffered persecution from the Holy Office and were forbidden to offer Mass publicly for quite some time. Both had the gift of prophecy, the charisma of utmost obedience to the Church. and complete acceptance of the Divine Will in deep humility.

Under the pen-name Dain Cohenel, Don Dolindo was a diligent and refined scholar (in particular for his authoritative Commentary on Sacred Scripture, consisting of 33 volumes); in addition, he was also a brilliant musician, cantor, organist, and great preacher.  A servant of God, he spent his whole life in the problematic city of Naples, in poverty for love of his neighbour, favoring the less well-off classes and conducting his ministry in all the parishes he was ordered to attend. 

His days started at 2.30 in the morning and ended around midnight, interspersed by numerous rosaries and prayers, the study of the sacred texts, by writing and unfailing support for all those who needed him, including many poor and sick to whom he rushed to, even in the middle of the night, in all kinds of weather, often forgetting his own chronic ailments. 

He founded "L'Apostolato Stampa" a publishing house that even today, through the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate Conception, handles the distribution of his writings. He formed spiritual daughters with the mission of reaching out, to the call of God,  to the most reluctant individuals and also that of educating future generations.

Totally devoted to Our Lady, he claimed that through Her intercession he had received the gifts of the intellect and wisdom when he was at junior high school (in seminary) and fraught because of his continuous failures and lack of basic cultural requirements to advance with his studies. These gifts were manifest very intensely in him at a very young age. 

On November 19th 1970, he died in the odor of sanctity, of pneumonia.  Actually, the process for his beatification is underway following several miraculous events and testimonies of his holiness. His body lies in the Chiesa dell’Immacolata di Lourdes e San Giuseppe dei Vecchi in Naples, now a place of pilgrimage from all over the world. 

Here we offer two prayers composed by this great man of God: 

Come, O Mary! 

Come, O Mary and reign in the world! May new impulses of filial devotion to Thee come from the Chair of Peter, and may Thy most resplendent light dispel all errors!


The fallen world found salvation in Thee and the present apostate world can only find it in Thee once again, since Thou art the Queen of Grace and Mercy.

The situation is frightening: false prophets have deceived us, and iniquity has even deceived itself. Those who promised tranquility have swept through like a hurricane of destruction, and those who promised peace have whirled past like tornados in a storm. 

The idols we elevated on our eternal aspirations have fallen, and burned us in their filthy flames and foul fires.  The leaders of the latest  nonsense have been unmasked and are now confused.  

O Mary, O most sweet Queen, O Virgin Mother of God, save us! 

The universe invokes you, O Mother of Mercy -  begging for your help.
Come therefore, to aid your servants, O Blessed One; come, and with
the fresh mercy that Thou pourest on the earth let there be immense glory
to the Father, let there be equal glory to the Son, let there be  sovereign glory to God the
Holy Spirit!"


Don Dolindo: 'What if the Lord asked you:

If the Lord also asked you: “And you, who do you say I am?”
respond with all your love:
Thou art the Truth, Wisdom, Love in essence…
Thou art the Eternal, the Infinite, the Almighty Father, Son and Holy Spirit…
What does my intellect say about Thee? I believe in Thee!
What does my will say about Thee? I obey Thee!
What does my heart say about Thee? I love Thee!
And in the obscurity of life, what do I say? I adore Thee!
And in pain, what do I say? I thank Thee and love Thee!
And in darkness, and in distress, what do I say? I trust in Thee, 
my Lord and my God!

Don Marcello Stanzione

Il Nuovo Arengario

Translation: contributor Francesca Romana