St. Robert Bellarmine

Today is the memorial of St. Robert Bellarmine, SJ. He is my patron saint, along with St. Thomas More, and St. Dominic.

Bellarmine was born on October 4, 1542 and was a nephew of Pope Marcellus II. He entered the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) on September 20, 1560. He studied philosophy at the Roman College aka the Gregorian University in Rome, then studied theology at Padua finishing at Louvain. After ordination, he became a distinguished professor and preacher.

Bellarmine’s loyalty to the Holy See was intense. He was the Spiritual Father at the Gregorian University. He was involved in Church politics of the time. He later became rector of the Gregorian, became the personal theologian of the pope, and made a cardinal.

He was involved in the Galileo controversy, advocating a moderate approach to scientific theories that seemed to contradict Scripture. Bellarmine argued that scientific theories that are insufficiently proved should be advanced only as a hypothesis; but if, as was the case of Galileo’s heliocentric theory, such a theory was solidly demonstrated, then Scripture must be interpreted carefully with the theory in mind. Unfortunately, his argument did not convince the Holy See, and Bellarmine had the sad responsibility to ask Galileo for a retraction.

Bellarmine was noted for his spirit of prayer, his understanding of conscience and freedom from sin, his humility and his poverty. He gave lavishly to the poor.

He was canonized a saint by Pope Pius XI in 1930, and declared a Doctor of the Church in 1931. He is the patron saint of catechists.

About Deacon Bob

Moderator: Deacon Bob Yerhot of the Diocese of Winona-Rochester, Minnesota.
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