The Biblical Roots of First Fridays According to Don Dolindo Ruotolo

Every first Friday, devoted Catholics around the world gather to worship the Sacred Heart of Jesus, performing acts of consecration, atonement, and reparation. This modern tradition traces its origins to powerful revelations.

In the 17th century, Christ repeatedly appeared to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, showing her His Sacred Heart burning with resplendent light and infinite love. He lamented how little love He receives in return from most people. To make amends for this ingratitude, Christ requested that the first Friday of each month be specially devoted to worship of His Heart through Mass, communion, and adoration.

Centuries earlier, we find intriguing parallels in scripture. As recounted in the book of Numbers (Chapter 28), God instructs Moses to declare the first day of every month as a holy day of sacrifice. This monthly ritual is absent from previous books of the law, reflecting an instituted divine command that happened later in the journey of the Hebrews led by Moses.

In his illuminated commentary on the book of Numbers, Don Dolindo identifies a profound continuity between this Old Testament injunction and modern First Friday devotions. Through spiritual wisdom, he discerned divine intent underlying both practices—to set apart special times for humanity’s spiritual renewal and atonement back to the right relationship with the Creator.

By first highlighting St. Margaret Mary’s revelations, and then transitioning to Don Dolindo’s insightful scriptural analysis, the primacy and continuity of God’s message across eras becomes clear. From here, we can explore a more expansive understanding of First Friday’s deep biblical resonance and timeless spiritual purpose.

Biblical Foundations: Moses and the First Day Sacrifices

In Numbers 28:11-13, Moses receives explicit instructions from God regarding the sacrifices to be made on the first day of each month:

“And on the first day of the month you shall offer a holocaust to the Lord, two calves of the herd, one ram, and seven lambs of a year old, without blemish, and three tenths of flour tempered with oil in sacrifice for every calf: and two tenths of flour tempered with oil for every ram: and the tenth of a tenth of flour tempered with oil in sacrifice for every lamb.”

Don Dolindo notes that this sacrificial ritual on the first day of each month had not been previously instituted in the law of Moses in earlier books. It is only in the book of Numbers that this innovation was revealed. Don Dolindo sees this as a purposeful innovation, establishing the first day as a special time set aside for “spiritual renewal and as a sacrifice of atonement.”

As Dolindo further explains, “it seems as if we see in this innovation what the Church has done by consecrating the first Fridays of each month to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.” He posits a profound continuity between the Old Testament system of sacrifice and the modern Catholic devotions, implying that both serve the fundamental purpose of spiritual renewal and atonement.

The Sacred Heart Revelations to St. Margaret Mary

To fully appreciate this link between biblical rituals and modern Catholic practice, we must understand the revelations of the Sacred Heart made to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque in the 17th century. As she recounted, Christ appeared to her repeatedly, showing her His heart burning with resplendent light and infinite love for mankind.

He lamented, however, at how little love He receives in return from most people. As a means of making amends for this ingratitude and forgetfulness towards His infinite love and mercy, Christ requested specific acts of devotion to be made on the first Friday of every month. Among these special First Friday devotions is attending Mass, receiving communion, and spending dedicated time in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.

Don Dolindo succinctly captures the spiritual purpose behind these First Friday practices: “after the revelation of the Sacred Heart to St. Margaret Mary, the Church has resorted to this pious practice as a healing remedy for the forgetfulness and ingratitude of mankind towards the Redeemer.” Just as atonement sacrifices spiritually renewed the Israelites, First Friday devotions call us to renewal through acts of love, reparation, and worship of Christ’s Sacred Heart.

The Powerful Link Between Ancient and Modern

In drawing connections between the book of Numbers (Chapter 28) and First Friday devotions, Don Dolindo bridges a divide of millennia. His commentary highlights the continuity in God’s plan across vastly different historical contexts. The same needs for spiritual renewal, atonement of sin, worship, and gratitude towards God underpin both the ancient Israelite sacrifices and modern Catholic practices.

As Dolindo explains, “it seems as if we see in this innovation what the Church has done.” The biblical innovations pave the way for the modern. There is a profound symmetry and significance in the fact that both center around the first days of the month.

The cyclical nature of monthly renewal rituals speaks to our constant need for revival, repentance, and return to the right relationship with God. Both ancient and modern practices recognize that as humans, we are prone to forgetfulness, distraction, and ingratitude in the face of God’s eternal love and mercy. We must, as Christ implored St. Margaret Mary, make deliberate acts of worship and contrition to reopen our hearts to divine grace.

A Gateway to God’s Timeless Truths

In exploring the origins of First Friday devotions, we walk through a portal connecting ancient biblical practice to modern Catholic devotion. On this journey, we are reminded that our faith has deep roots nourishing timeless truths about humanity’s relationship to the Divine.

We see our constant need for mercy, renewal, and realignment towards reverent love of our Creator. We see the patterns in worship and sacrifice, devotion and contrition that run through centuries of tradition across vastly different contexts. God meets us where we are, in each era of human life, calling us back through revelatory transformations of soul and society.

First Friday devotions are but one embodiment of this eternal dynamic—God’s endless invitation to return, remember, and receive His ever-awaiting grace. By honoring the Sacred Heart of Jesus each First Friday, we retrace a path walked by righteous ancients and modern saints back home to the Heart of boundless love at the center of our faith. We carry the flame ignited in Christ forward through time, knowing there are no ends to God’s forgiveness and no expiration on His offer to restore all who earnestly seek His healing and regenerative presence.

Immaculate Mary, you who first believed in the promises of the Lord and treasured all things in your heart, teach us too how to contemplate the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Help us to gaze upon that Heart burning with love for all humanity. Ignite our hearts to return that love in acts of devotion and reparation. May we, like you, behold the marvels God has done for us through Christ (Lk 2:19) and believing, we would overflow with hope and praise (Rom 15:13). As we meditate on your Son’s merciful Heart, once pierced for our sins but now beating with unconditional grace, we beseech you to capture our wandering attention and careless indifference (Ps 86:11-12). Soften our stubborn hearts as you stored and pondered the word of God within yours (Ps 119:11). Grant us the living waters of wisdom, welling up to eternal life by the power of the Spirit (Jn 4:14). Dearest Mother Mary, you who so faithfully stood by Jesus even unto the cross, help us to persevere in our devotion and worship of His Sacred Heart (Jn 19:25-27). Teach us step by step how to walk the way of the Lord by keeping His word in our hearts (Lk 2:51, Ps 119:9-11). May the Immaculate love of your heart so perfectly reflect the light of Christ’s, that we discover anew the path leading back to the fountainhead of divine mercy. Amen.

Author’s Note: If you would like to read more about Don Dolindo’s spirituality, check out this book: Don Dolindo’s Spiritual Guidance.

Photo provided by the Author.

Don Dolindo Ruotolo, Commento alla Sacra Scrittura (33 volumi), Apostolato Stampa, Napoli 1939

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque: Apostle of the Sacred Heart of Jesus:

Avatar photo


Elie G. Dib has directed his interests towards studying the writings and life journey of the Servant of God, Don Dolindo Ruotolo. Known for his monumental 33-volume commentary, Don Dolindo left an indelible mark on religious literary work. Elie is ardently invested in translating this extensive commentary from Italian to English, with a vision to break the language barrier and make this profound work accessible to a wider audience. Through his translation efforts, Elie aspires to disseminate the teachings of Don Dolindo and inspire others with his deep insights into the scripture. His Substack can be found at: If you would like to read more about Don Dolindo's insights on Sacred Scripture, check out this new book:

Subscribe to CE
(It's free)

Go to Catholic Exchange homepage