|| St. Robert Bellarmine - Patron
When Robert Bellarmine was
ordained in 1570, the study of church history and the Fathers of the Church was
in a sad state of neglect. A promising scholar from his youth in Tuscany, he
devoted his energy to these two subjects, as well as to Scripture in order to
systematize church doctrine against the attacks of the Reformers. He was the
first Jesuit to become a professor at Louvain (Belgium).
famous work is his three-volume Disputations on the Controversies of the
Christian Faith. Particularly noteworthy are the sections on the temporal power
of the pope and the role of the laity. He incurred the anger of both England
and France by showing the divine-right of-kings theory untenable. He developed
the theory of the indirect power of the pope in temporal affairs. Although he
was defending the pope against the Scottish philosopher Barclay, he also
incurred the ire of Pope Sixtus V.
Bellarmine was made a Cardinal by
Pope Clement VIII on the grounds that he had not his equal for
learning. While he occupied apartments in the Vatican, Bellarmine relaxed
none of his former austerities. He limited his household expenses to what was
barely essential, eating only the food available to the poor. He was known to
have ransomed a soldier who had deserted from the army; Bellarmine used the
hangings of his rooms to clothe poor people, remarking, The walls
wont catch cold.
Among many activities, he became
theologian to Pope Clement VIII, preparing two catechisms which have had great
influence in the Church.
The last major controversy of
Bellarmines life came in 1616 when he had to admonish his friend Galileo,
whom he admired. Bellarmine delivered the admonition on behalf of the Holy
Office, which had decided that the heliocentric theory of Copernicus was
contrary to Scripture. The admonition amounted to a caution against putting
forward -other that as hypothesis - theories not yet fully proved. It was an
example of the fact that saints are not infallible.
Bellarmine died on
September 17, 1621. The process for his canonization was begun in 1627 but was
delayed until 1930 for political reasons, stemming from his writings. In 1931,
Pius XI declared him a Doctor of the church.