Saint Robert Bellarmine

[Saint Robert Bellarmine]Also known as

  • Robert Francis Romulus Bellarmine
  • Roberto Bellarmino
  • Roberto Francesco Romolo Cardinale Bellarmino

Memorial

Profile

Third of ten children of Vincenzo Bellarmine and Cinzia Cervini, a family of impoverished nobles. His mother, a niece of Pope Marcellus II, was dedicated to almsgiving, prayer, meditation, fasting, and mortification. Robert suffered assorted health problems all his life. Educated by Jesuits as a boy. Joined the Jesuits on 20 September 1560 over the opposition of his father who wanted Robert to enter politics. Studied at the Collegio Romano from 1560 to 1563, Jesuit centers in Florence, Italy in 1563, then in Mondovi, Piedmont, the University of Padua in 1567 and 1568, and the University of Louvain, Flanders in 1569. Ordained on Palm Sunday, 1570 in Ghent, Belgium.

Professor of theology at the University of Louvain from 1570 to 1576. A the request of Pope Gregory XIII, he taught polemical theology at the Collegio Romano from 1576 to 1587. While there he wrote Disputationes de Controversiis Christianae Fidei adversus hujus temporis hereticos, the most complete work of the day to defend Catholicism against Protestant attack. Spiritual director of the Roman College from 1588. Taught Jesuit students and other children; wrote a children‘s catechism, Dottrina cristiana breve. Wrote a catechism for teachers, Dichiarazione piu copiosa della dottrina cristiana. Confessor of Saint Aloysius Gonzaga until his death, and then worked for the boy‘s canonization. In 1590 he worked in France to defend the interests of the Church during a period of turmoil and conflict. Member of the commission for the 1592 revision of the Vulgate Bible. Rector of the Collegio Romano from 1592 to 1594. Jesuit provincial in Naples, Italy from 1594 to 1597. Theologian to Pope Clement VIII from 1597 to 1599. Examiner of bishops and consultor of the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Roman and Universal Inquisition in 1597; strongly concerned with discipline among the bishops. Created Cardinal-priest on 3 March 1598 by Pope Clement VIII; he lived an austere life in Rome, giving most of his money to the poor. At one point he used the tapestries in his living quarters to clothe the poor, saying that “the walls won’t catch cold.”

Defended the Apostolic See against anti-clericals in Venice, Italy, and the political tenets of King James I of England. Wrote exhaustive works against heresies of the day. Took a fundamentally democratic position – authority originates with God, is vested in the people, who entrust it to fit rulers, a concept which brought him trouble with the kings of both England and France. Spiritual father of Saint Aloysius Gonzaga. Helped Saint Francis de Sales obtain formal approval of the Visitation Order. Noted preacher. Archbishop of Capua, Italy on 18 March 1602. Part of the two conclaves of 1605. Involved in disputes between the Republic of Venice and the Vatican in 1606 and 1607 concerning clerical discipline and Vatican authority. Involved in the controversy between King James I and the Vatican in 1607 and 1609 concerning control of the Church in England. Wrote Tractatus de potestate Summi Pontificis in rebus temporalibus adversus Gulielmum Barclaeum in opposition to Gallicanism. Opposed action against Galileo Galilei in 1615, and established a friendly correspondence with him, but was forced to deliver the order for the scientist to submit to the Church. Part of the conclave of 1621, and was considered for Pope. Theological advisor to Pope Paul V. Head of the Vatican library. Prefect of the Sacred Congregation of the Rites. Prefect of the Sacred Congregation of the Index. Proclaimed a Doctor of the Church on 17 September 1931.

Born

Died

Venerated

Beatified

Canonized

Patronage

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Writings

  • The 15 Marks of the Catholic Church
  • De Laicis: Treatise on Civil Government
  • De Controversiis: Disputations on the Controversies of the Christian faith
  • On the Art of Dying Well
  • On the Ascent of the Mind to God (1615)
  • On the Seven Words of Christ (1618)

Readings

Charity is that with which no man is lost, and without which no man is saved. - Saint Robert Bellarmine

“Sweet Lord, you are meek and merciful.” Who would not give himself wholeheartedly to your service, if he began to taste even a little of your fatherly rule? What command, Lord, do you give your servants? “Take my yoke upon you,” you say. And what is this yoke of yours like? “My yoke,” you say, “is easy and my burden light.” Who would not be glad to bear a yoke that does no press hard but caresses? Who would not be glad for a burden that does not weigh heavy but refreshes? And so you were right to add: “And you will find rest for your souls.” And what is this yoke of yours that does not weary, but gives rest? It is, of course, that first and greatest commandment: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart.” What is easier, sweeter, more pleasant, than to love goodness, beauty, and love, the fullness of which you are, O Lord, my God?” Is it not true that you promise those who keep your commandments a reward more desirable than great wealth and sweeter than honey? You promise a most abundant reward, for as your apostle James says: “The Lord has prepared a crown of life for those who love him.” What is this crown of life? It is surely a greater good than we can conceive of or desire, as Saint Paul says, quoting Isaiah: “Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, nor has it so much as dawned on man what God has prepared for those who love him.” - from On the Ascent of the Mind to God by Saint Robert Bellarmine

MLA Citation

  • “Saint Robert Bellarmine“. Saints.SQPN.com. 26 August 2014. Web. 3 September 2014. <>