A Divine Appointment: A Fateful Meeting with a Future Saint
I stumbled upon a remarkable video featuring Monsignor Giacomo Pappalardo, a member of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. In this interview with “Bel tempo si spera” on TV200it, he shares a serendipitous encounter with the Servant of God Don Dolindo Ruotolo, an Italian priest who died on November 19, 1970. This fateful meeting took place in 1997 – 27 years after Don Dolindo’s passing.
As Monsignor Pappalardo recalls, it was a Sunday morning in 1997 when he arrived slightly late to celebrate Mass at the quaint church of San Pasquale in Chiaia, Naples. Rushing through the sacristy, he noticed an elderly priest seated behind the altar, intently focused on a booklet and bag of stones in his hands. Intrigued by this eccentric figure, Monsignor Pappalardo asked if he could hear his confession before Mass.
With a chuckle, the priest replied, “But my little angel, isn’t it a bit late?” When Monsignor Pappalardo explained he worked at the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in Rome, the old man’s eyes widened in surprise. “The Congregation for the Causes of Saints? Are you going to make me a saint?” he exclaimed lightheartedly. “Well, there is one small detail,” Monsignor Pappalardo joked back. “To be proclaimed a saint, you first have to be dead and in heaven!”
They shared a laugh, but Monsignor Pappalardo had to rush off to celebrate Mass. When he returned, the amusing priest had vanished without a trace. No one at the church knew who he was.
A few weeks later, however, Monsignor Pappalardo met an elderly man who showed him a photo of his spiritual director – none other than the priest from the church! “My heart started racing,” Monsignor Pappalardo said. Through this chance encounter, he uncovered the identity of the holy man with the bag of stones – Don Dolindo Ruotolo, who had passed away 27 years prior.
As the story spread, Monsignor Pappalardo learned more about Don Dolindo’s penitential practice of carrying heavy stones. The priest’s niece, Grazia Ruotolo, fondly recalled her uncle arriving late into the night bearing a shoulder bag bursting with stones. Laughing lightheartedly, her father would say, “It’s Dolindo with his famous bag of stones!”
Don Dolindo called these burdensome stones “precious pearls for Heaven” – just one of his voluntary sacrifices for the salvation of souls. Don Pasquale Rea, former pastor at Don Dolindo’s burial church, witnessed the aging priest walking the streets weighed down by a heavy sack of stones. Hunched over from the intense weight, Don Dolindo referred to them as his own “precious stones for Heaven” – a physical sign of his complete spiritual offering.
Captivated by this mysterious tale of a holy priest reappearing 27 years after death, publications like Famiglia Cristiana and TV200it featured interviews with Monsignor Pappalardo. They shared the astonishing account of his spiritual encounter with the late Don Dolindo Ruotolo – an event beyond mere chance, but rather a glimpse of the mystical workings of divine providence. What faithful soul could hear this story and not be moved by the reality of God’s invisible hand guiding all things? Through this saintly priest’s timely return, the Lord sent a powerful reminder – He is always working, even across the veil of eternity, to stir our hearts toward heaven.
O Mary, Mother of Priests and Queen of Apostles, we turn to you seeking your powerful intercession for the advancement of the cause of sainthood of your “little old man,” Don Dolindo Ruotolo. You who are the Queen of All Saints, draw us close and grant us the grace to follow your example of humility and obedience to God’s will. May your maternal prudence guide the process, just as you guide all your children to your Divine Son. We pray that the splendor of your Immaculate Conception may shine forth through the life of Don Dolindo for the glory of God. Lead us in singing, “My soul magnifies the Lord,” and renew the Church through the testimony of this holy priest. Gather us under your protective mantle, O Mediatrix of all graces, and unite our prayers to yours as we implore the mercy of Jesus for the glorification of His faithful servant, your “little old man”, Don Dolindo. Amen.
Original TV200it video:
Famiglia Cristiana video: