Don Dolindo Ruotolo, Theologian of the Incarnation of the Word and the Magnificat of Mary – The Order of the Franciscan of the Immaculate are promoting his Cause of Beatification. In the Franciscan Center at Frigento, Avellino, Italy, his books are collected in the Library
dedicated to His name.
Dolindo Ruotolo, Priest – A SHORT BIOGRAPHY
By Giovanna Invitti Ellis
Don Dolindo Ruotolo, “Mary’s little old man”, as he called himself.(1882-1970) Father Dolindo advanced in years and weakened by many
illnesses and paralysis described himself as “the little old man of Mary Most Holy”. Instead he had a quick intelligence and extraordinary intuition, along with many virtues throughout his life. He worked unceasingly for his beloved Church, torn apart by disputes, accusations and desertions, (those were years of world-wide controversy). He endeavored to speak the Truth to souls disoriented and disheartened. In his humility he felt always inadequate, but he found strength in Mary Most Holy.
His body rests in the Parish Church where he served as Pastor for many years, Our Lady of Lourdes and St. Joseph of the Aged, Via
Salvatore Tommasi, Napoli, Italy.
Fr. Dolindo Ruotolo was born, in Naples, Italy on October 6,1882.
Ordained at the young age of 23 on June 24, 1905, Don Dolindo dedicated every moment of his long life to prayer and penance at the service of thousands of faithful who asked for his spiritual direction and turned to him for help and comfort.
He is the author of a most profound Theological and Psychological Commentary, highly inspired by the Holy Spirit, on the all Holy Scripture,
in 33 volumes.
Beside his monumental Commentary, he left an extraordinary number of theological, ascetical and mystical writings.
He answered thousands of letters as well left thousands of holy notes on holy images to offer spiritual direction to people attending His Holy
Masses and Retreats. Twenty of his holy notes are in the book, “Meditations on the Holy Rosary”.
Don Dolindo had a keen understanding of the human soul, and he was always able to help people to see the light of God. He worked
tirelessly to help souls, in the midst of unspeakable suffering of every kind, since he had offered himself as victim soul for mankind, sustained by a wonderful freshness of spirit that transformed his life into a hymn to life.
For the last ten years of his life he was completely paralyzed.
Don Dolindo died in Naples on November 19, 1970, in the extreme voluntary poverty he had chosen to live throughout his life. He told people to knock at his tomb for their needs and he would continue to answer.
Now, more then ever, people flock to his Church and knock at his tomb, confident of his intercession and receiving healings and graces.
The testimonies of miraculous healing due to his intercession before and after his death cannot be counted: tuberculosis healed, limbs made well, suicide attempts stopped due to his tempestuous intervention and so on. He never denied his help to anyone pleading with Jesus for all who ask
and confide in him.
The wonders of his help can also be seen in daily needs of many ordinary people such as the cure of a child from his illness, a test to overcome, a job to be found: miracles, in other words of getting through the day, which can be most extraordinary in a city like Naples always
afflicted with poverty and even degradation.
Comforting those who were suffering was his everyday toil and offering, which never ended even when his own health was at stake. He prayed for everyone and suffered for everyone. He ate very little and his clothes were poor, but nevertheless, he withstood cold and hunger and was seen walking barefoot in the snow.
In his very own home instead he was an undesired guest, and he was despised because his poverty and simplicity made the family
uncomfortable. But didn’t Jesus say that man’s enemies are often found in his own family?
Don Dolindo was never afraid to go near contagious sick people, caressing them, kissing them; in cases where disgust would have put off compassion in many, in Don Dolindo brought healing and mercy.
He made patience his heroic virtue; he knew from inner inspiration that the evil in the world is dispelled through the charity of a patient heart.
Nothing was dearer to him more than the Holy Church. He never allowed anyone in his presence to speak evil of Mother-Church. He professed that the Church is Mother of Saints and only through obedience to the Catholic Church and the Holy Pontiff can flowers blossom for
Paradise; he also believed that sainthood is “a goodness bought through the bank of tears”. That is why Don Dolindo found love through suffering and the more his arthritis crippled his body in knots, the more he felt joy from the fruits he brought to the Church. He went on in his journey of love towards the divine, suffering in his ulcerous, pus-filled, wounded legs, with a peace foreseen only in his grave.
If there were poor beggars at the door of his Church he would kiss their hands and embracing them would ask them to forgive him if they had
any argument against him.
Don Dolindo’s heart was filled with joy feeling the presence of the Virgin Mary, the saints, and the Guardian Angel. The Eucharistic Communion was for him a mystic union with Christ on the cross.
In his goodness, he was able to aid people in distress even if they were very far from him.
He is known to have covered sick people waiting for their surgery next morning, with his cloak thus helping them to pass the night without
anguish or pain.
He is known to be at the site of patients in difficult near fatal surgeries and restore them to health.
He is known to have given prescriptions signing with the name
“Doctor Cretinico Sciosciammocca” (Doctor Stupid Fly-swatter) to people who had no doctors or medicines and were left abandoned without remedies and his therapy with his out-of-the-ordinary remedies brought miraculous results.
His goodness was not arrogant, the austerity of his routine did not conflict with his joyful Neapolitan nature in which suffering does not
necessarily eliminate joy but rather shows it.
After all diagnosis and cure of his own sicknesses failed, Don Dolindo wrote a parody of a prescription, to tell patients to see their maladies as
opportunities of trusting the love of God and Mary Most Holy: the prescription sounded like this:
“Human remedy- cold kick (push yourself/do not rest too long) syrup, Supreme remedy- divine obedience to the Will of God
mixed with daily drops of Hail Mary.
His goodness made even Hell tremble. As demons subdued to Jesus and publicly declared that He was the Son of God; as Father Pio from Pietralcina in his fight against Satan succeeded in defeating the devil with the wounds of Christ; also Don Dolindo in the Name of Jesus, when doing
exorcisms thrust out demons who cursed him, from the bodies of the possessed.
Demons are known to obey only those who work by the hand of God.
One day when a very resistant demon made fun of Father Dolindo, refusing to leave the man he possessed, Father Dolindo grasped a rope and began to flagellate himself and his penitence and suffering as consequence inflicted such a suffering on the demon to force him to abandon his victim, leaving him finally free.
Autobiographies are part of a literary genre that when adopted by a saint serve to become humble before God and to edify the Church. Like Agostino, and Theresa before him, Dolindo too, in obedience and under oath to tell the truth, relives the history of his soul and the works God has in store for him. When Jesus is present in our soul, our heart exalts in joy yet at the same instance all our human convictions create a wall around us and even those who pray together with us raise their voices against us because the soul searches for tangible proof of the truth it feels within.
However, truth is not found in our brothers who see not but the bitterness of human misery; and so they sigh as Christ on the cross: my God. Why have you forsaken me? Comfort is to be found only through the truth of faith, no tangible proof but the faith taught by the Church exists. Because it is in such truth that Christ firmly resides.
And so Father Dolindo, like any other saint, goes through a series of doubts: Jesus is silently guiding us.
Dolindo was threatened to be reported to the Holy Office because of envy on the part of Father Fabazzi and Father De Cicco. Just the mention such a tribunal sets off unrest in the soul of every follower because it leads him to believe that he is not conforming to the ways of the Church. The Devil tempts the soul and although it is the only illusion, it puts faith in God to test by the seduction of the enemy and threatens damnation for ourselves and others.
Jesus never leaves a chosen one to suffer longer than what is necessary; during mass, He came and with peace raised Dolindo above and beyond human triteness. He let him feel and taste the gusto of the truth and mysteriously purified each and every cell of his being from anguish and hesitation. He clearly felt that the ministry of priesthood is not only ritual but is the ministry of the word of Jesus, that Jesus during sacrament broke bread to signify the word which nourishes us through illumination of the mind and edification of the spirit, that sacrament not enriched primarily by the penetration of the Word is a transmutation of bread into stone.
There can’t be sainthood without devotion to Mary. The people in their intuitive nature deep within their soul named don Dolindo well when they called him Mary’s Sage as if to indicate a matronymic affinity. In effect don Dolindo was completely
“Mary” : he celebrated the most beautiful prayers to Mary, he sang for her and together with her sang the most delicate melodies. A great deal of his writing and his pamphlets are dedicated to the Immaculate Virgin, to the Redeemer’s Mother, co-redeemer of the human race. Mary was for him the breath of the Universe and the wonder of the Soul, the hymn of the Trinity. Without comparison are his feelings towards the inspired Magnificat as dictated by the Virgin who came to instruct don Dolindo’s humble cenacle.
At the school of our Heavenly Mother a deep culminating change of heart is reflected in his latest work: “Mary, mother of God , and mother of man”, a powerful trilogy of Mary composed in the final years of his life, amidst excruciating pain and paralysis
which made it rather difficult to write. The pillar of such devotion to Mary was the prayer to the Holy Rosary, which he recited while meditating the stages of life, the death and resurrection of Jesus to his throne, which he likened to the rod of Moses to beat on the gates of Heaven and to beg for grace or as a sword against Satan’s assaults and temptations.