Tuesday 27th January 2015

Home » saints » Currently Reading:

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Robert Bellarmine

May 13, 2014 saints No Comments

By CAROLE BRESLIN

Two days a week I attend Mass in Flushing, Mich., at the Parish of St. Robert Bellarmine. The altar is beautiful, but nothing prepared me for the beauty of the decorations for Easter with an empty tomb on one side, the risen Christ on another, and across to the back side draped in white linen all surrounded with beautiful, fragrant flowers. There was much more with which the patron, St. Robert Bellarmine, must have been so pleased. St. Robert has not been as universally popular as the Little Flower, but he certainly offers much to write about since he is one of the few who have been designated as a doctor of the Church.
In 1542, the Protestant Reformation or Revolt was well on its way, drawing many of the Catholics in Europe away from the folds of Holy Mother Church. Into this controversial era Vincenzo Bellarmino and Cinzia Cervini — half-sister to Pope Marcellus II — welcomed their son, Roberto Francesco Romolo Bellarmino, known to us as St. Robert Bellarmine.
The Jesuit school recognized him as “the best of our school, and not far from the Kingdom of Heaven.” He was 17 at the time, being devout, brilliant, and articulate. Even at this young age he impressed his superiors with his debating skills.
Robert found his experiences at the Jesuit school very rewarding and decided he wanted to enter the Jesuit order. However, as happens with saints, his father was opposed to the idea since he had other plans for his promising son.
His mother, again like most saints, finally won over his father so that Robert left for Rome in 1560. So impressed was the father general of the order with Robert’s abilities that his novitiate was shortened so that he could enter more quickly into the studies for the priesthood.
After Robert spent three years studying philosophy, health reasons made it necessary for him to move back to Tuscany, where he began teaching. Not long afterward he went to Monrovia to teach Greek to the students — a subject that he had to teach himself since he knew no Greek. Similar to John Bosco, Robert Bellarmine did not approve of the flogging of young boys.
When he began preaching, crowds would flock to hear him. When his provincial superior heard his sermon, he promptly transferred the young man to Padua where he was to prepare for Ordination.
However, the father general, Francis Borgia — not one of the more infamous and corrupt Borgia family — sent him to the Louvain in Belgium to complete his studies. Borgia sent him there to counteract the many heresies and controversies propagated by the Protestants.
Bellarmine stayed there for seven years, once again drawing crowds despite his plain appearance and short stature. His heart burned within him during his sermons so that his face glowed with the joy of the Holy Spirit.
After his Ordination in 1570, he became a professor at the University of Louvain, lecturing on the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas. These lectures on the Summa Theologiae became the channel by which the Truth of the Church was taught and errors refuted.
His zeal led him to teach himself Hebrew in order to better study Holy Scripture. Thus he also became an expert on the Bible as well as on the Fathers of the Church. A side benefit of this study was that Robert published a Hebrew grammar book, which became widely popular.
Again his health broke down. He traveled to Italy where St. Charles Borromeo sought to get him assigned to Milan, but to no avail. Robert ended up at the chair of controversial theology at the Roman College. While there, he wrote his unequaled Disputations on the Controversies, refuting the claims of the Protestants that they were the true Church established by Christ.
The four volumes were so thorough with such a grasp of Scripture, dogmatic teachings of the Church, and the writings of the Church Fathers that the Protestants insisted that not one man, but many Jesuits, cooperated to write them. Their demand, even in England where they were forbidden, continued for centuries and hold great importance even to this day.
In 1589, he went to France under obedience to arbitrate between Henry of Navarre and the Catholic League. The mission failed, but Robert learned much of suffering. He returned to Rome at the death of Pope Sixtus V. The new Pope, Clement VIII, assigned him to prepare the Latin Vulgate for publication as a follow-up to the Council of Trent.
While working in Rome he provided spiritual direction to the youthful St. Aloysius Gonzaga, requesting that when he died he wanted to lie at the feet of Aloysius, who died very young. Then, in 1592, he became rector of the Roman College. Two years later he was made provincial of Naples before returning to Rome to become a theological adviser to the Pope.
Under the authority of Pope Clement VIII he wrote his two catechisms, which became the most widely published catechisms ever written. In 1598, having been nominated cardinal, he tried to elude the office, but Pope Clement VIII raised him under order of obedience. Though Robert stayed in the cardinals’ palace, he lived simply, giving food to the poor and maintaining his previous austere lifestyle. He allowed no fires in winter and subsisted on bread and garlic. The luxurious hangings in his residence were taken down to make clothes for the poor.
In 1602, he left for Capua to become a pastor and leave the life of academia behind. He evangelized and tended his flock tirelessly. Catechizing, visiting the parishes, exhorting the priests to live holy lives now became his work. However, once again he was recalled to Rome, by Pope Paul V.
He entered the fray with those denying the authority of the Pope. His stinging retort to King James I of England demolished the king’s rationale for his stance. His booklet denying the divine right of kings was burned by the leaders in France, but he was also denounced by others when he said the papal jurisdiction over foreign rulers was indirect.
He was also an associate of Galileo, whom he admonished for his unproved theories. His last years in Rome were spent writing more spiritual commentaries than apologetics. The popularity of these volumes became evident when they were translated into several different languages, including English.
As Bellarmine’s health deteriorated, the Jesuits allowed him to return to the novitiate of St. Andrew. On September 17, 1621 he died — a date he requested be established as the Feast of the Stigmata of St. Francis. In 1930 he was canonized. The very next year, he was declared a doctor of the Church. Although his feast is now celebrated in September, in the old calendar his feast was celebrated on May 13.
Dear St. Robert, how we need champions of the faith to refute the errors of our day! Obtain for us the grace to study our faith, to learn our faith so that we too may lovingly proclaim the Truth which alone can bring joy to the world. Amen.

+    +    +

(Carole Breslin home-schooled her four daughters and served as treasurer of the Michigan Catholic Home Educators for eight years. Mrs. Breslin’s articles have appeared in Homiletic & Pastoral Review and in the Marian Catechist Newsletter. For over ten years, she was national coordinator for the Marian Catechists, founded by Fr. John A. Hardon, SJ.)

Share Button

Comment on this Article:

Notre Dame theologian known for books, liberal stands, dies

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — The Rev. Richard McBrien, a University of Notre Dame theologian known for his unabashed liberal stands on various church teachings and his popular books on Catholicism, died Sunday in his native Connecticut, according to the…Continue Reading

Bankruptcy case brings financial fears for Catholic schools

As president of an inner-city Catholic grade school that depends critically on donations, Helen Dahlman admits to an unconventional fundraising strategy. “We believe in miracles, so we pray a lot,” said Dahlman, who leads Risen Christ School in south Minneapolis,…Continue Reading

Cardinal: No pro-life victory without reaching the marginalized

Washington D.C., Jan 22, 2015 / 03:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- For the pro-life movement to truly succeed, it must fight not only abortion, but also the broader “throwaway culture” wherever life is being discarded, said Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston…Continue Reading

70 Churches Destroyed in ‘Anti-Charlie Hebdo’ Protests

The Christian community in Niger says it is in shock in the wake of weekend violence that has claimed the lives of 10 people and led to the destruction of dozens of places of worship and Christian homes. The protest,…Continue Reading

ITALY: Muslims smash, urinate on statue of Mary

A man was kneeling in prayer before the statue of the revered Madonna, with the photograph of a loved one in hand, in the small chapel of St. Barnabas in Perugia (Italy), when he was attacked by five “immigrants.” The…Continue Reading

At new in-flight press conference Francis says good Catholics are not required ‘to be like rabbits’

Catholics fail to practise “responsible parenthood” when they have too many children, Pope Francis has said during an in-flight press conference on the way home from Manila. He also denounced the teaching of “gender theory” in schools, likening it to…Continue Reading

CRUX’s “spirituality columnist” is “devastated” the Pope upholds Catholic teaching

Margery Eagan appears to be angling for a job as editor of National “Catholic” Reporter. Or perhaps spokesman for the LCWR: The news that Pope Francis has strongly defended the Church’s ban on artificial birth control left me, in a word, devastated. Goodness. Even…Continue Reading

St. Paul-Mpls. archdiocese declares bankruptcy in response to abuse lawsuits

The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Friday, saying it cannot meet its financial obligations from an unprecedented wave of clergy sex abuse lawsuits. The move freezes lawsuits against the church, protecting the archdiocese…Continue Reading

Pope Francis strongly defends church teaching against contraception

Pope Francis issued his strongest defense yet of church teaching opposing artificial contraception on Friday, using a rally in Asia’s largest Catholic nation to urge families to be “sanctuaries of respect for life.” Francis also denounced the corruption that has plagued…Continue Reading

Bella Dodd, who rejected Communism in favour of faith, is a lesson for young jihadis

Her story shows how easily the best human impulses can be twisted to evil Having blogged last week about John Beaumont’s book, The Mississippi Flows Into The Tiber, with all the extraordinary, uplifting and grace-filled stories of conversion that it…Continue Reading

Fox News’ Bret Baier, actor Gary Sinise cancel on Catholic group after gay gripes

FOX News Channel’s chief political anchor, Bret Baier, has shown himself to have a thinner skin than might be guessed from his on-air persona.  Baier has caved in to pressure from the homosexual activist group ‘Good as You’ to back…Continue Reading

Federal judge strikes down South Dakota’s gay marriage ban

SIOUX FALLS – A federal judge has declared South Dakota’s same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional, but has stayed the decision pending appeal. U.S. District Judge Karen Schreier on Monday issued a summary judgment in favor of the six couples who filed…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our new website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for over 145 years in our weekly print edition. Now we are introducing the online daily version of our print journal.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to subscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 145 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.

 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

A Powerful Weapon: 15 Quotes on the Holy Rosary

We live in evil times. I hardly need elaborate the multitude of crises that fill the globe. Sadly, many are being swept away by this flood of evil and are succumbing to an overwhelming anxiety and discouragement. But no matter how tempting it is, we must not shrink back. We must pray and fast with a living faith and a firm confidence—and there is no better way to…Continue Reading

12 Ways to Become a Committed Catholic Man

There is a Catholic “man-crisis.” Large numbers of men who were baptized Catholic have left the Church and the majority of those who remain are “Casual Catholic Men”, men who do not know the Catholic faith and don’t practice it. This large-scale failure of Catholic men to commit themselves to Jesus Christ and His Church has contributed to the accelerating…Continue Reading

Today . . .

Pope Francis: Women First And Foremost In Transmitting Faith

pope714

(Vatican Radio) The primary and indispensable role of women in transmitting the faith to new generations: this was the focus of Pope Francis’ remarks to the faithful following the readings of the day at Mass on Monday morning in the chapel of the Santa Marta residence in the Vatican. On the day when the Church celebrates the memory of Saints…Continue Reading

Pope Angelus: Jesus Wanted United Christians

(Vatican Radio) On Sunday and before the Angelus, the Pope recalled the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity and its theme, “Give me a drink”, the sentence uttered by Jesus to the Samaritan woman. He told the faithful gathered that the “desire for unity” of the disciples of Jesus is part of our “thirst not only material for water, but…Continue Reading

Pope Francis: Religious who pray for Christian unity an “invisible monastery”

(Vatican Radio) The vital role that men and women religious of different Christian Churches play in the ecumenical journey was at the heart of Pope Francis’s meeting on Saturday with participants in a conference on consecrated life and the search for Christian Unity. The three day meeting, which concludes on Sunday, comes in the context of both this Week of…Continue Reading

Pope Francis: Thursday Mass in Santa Marta

pope713

(Vatican Radio) The most important thing is not the grace of a physical healing, but the fact that Jesus saves us and intercedes for us: this was the focus of Pope Francis’ remarks following the readings of the day at Mass on Thursday morning in the chapel of the Santa Marta residence in the Vatican. Commenting on the Gospel of…Continue Reading

A Book Review… Dietrich Von Hildebrand’s Heroic Witness In Perilous Times

By STEPHANIE BLOCK My Battle Against Hitler: Faith, Truth, and Defiance in the Shadow of the Third Reich by Dietrich von Hildebrand. Translated and edited by John Henry Crosby with John F. Crosby, Image Books (2014); $28.00; 335 pages. My Battle Against Hitler, a posthumously published memoir and collection of essays by “20th century Doctor…Continue Reading

“I Can’t Breathe”… The Plight Of The Preborn

By REY FLORES (Editor’s Note: This article is reprinted from www.all.org, the website of American Life League. All rights reserved.) + + + This past year has seen race relations decline as a result of a well-orchestrated attempt by a corrupt government that wants to divide us at all costs. And the propaganda peddlers known…Continue Reading

“Flee Immorality,” Church Unity, & Right To Life March

By JOHN F. KIPPLEY (Editor’s Note: John F. Kippley is the author of Sex and the Marriage Covenant: A Basis for Morality and other books and articles. With his wife Sheila, he is a coauthor of Natural Family Planning: The Complete Approach and cofounder of NFP International. This commentary appeared on his January 18 blog…Continue Reading

A Book Review . . . Christianity’s Gift To The World

By JUDE DOUGHERTY Siedentop, Larry. Inventing the Individual: The Origins of Western Liberalism. Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press, 2014. Pp. viii + 434. Does it still make sense to still talk about the West in what some call a “post-Christian world”? Larry Siedentop, emeritus fellow of Keble College, Oxford, asks, “Can the West still be…Continue Reading

Author And Monk Thomas Merton Turns 100

By RAY CAVANAUGH The most famous Trappist monk of the 20th century was not originally a Catholic. Thomas Merton, born 100 years ago this January 31, was baptized first in the Church of England. Both of his parents were artists: His father was from New Zealand and his mother was from the U.S. Merton was…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

A Leaven In The World.. Papal Bloopers And Catholic Teaching

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK Pope Francis continues to grab headlines, not only by setting a new record for drawing the largest crowd in history, but also by his question and answer sessions on the planes to and from his pastoral visits. On the plane to the Philippines, the Pope responded to questions about free speech and violent responses to…Continue Reading

Mary’s Perpetual Virginity . . . The Faith Of The Early Christians

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 6 What did the Early Christians believe about the Catholic doctrine on the perpetual virginity of the Mother of Jesus? Those men, women, and children who sacrificed everything for the true faith — even their very own lives? They were imprisoned, tortured, murdered. Some were burned alive, racked, beheaded. Others were crucified, flayed alive,…Continue Reading

I Believe — We Believe

By DON FIER Over the past three weeks of this series on the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), we have been reflectively examining the characteristics of the indescribably wonderful gift of faith that Almighty God has so generously availed mankind. As so adeptly summarized in the Compendium of the CCC, we know that faith is “the supernatural virtue which…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. I remember a nun telling us back in Catholic school that after God ejected Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, He promised that He would eventually send them a Messiah. Where is that in the Bible? — M.R., Indiana. A. In chapter 3 of the Book of Genesis. Actually, the promise was made before God expelled our…Continue Reading

Joy And Fulfillment

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Fourth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR B) Readings: Deut. 18:15-20 1 Cor. 7:32-35 Mark 1:21-28 In the first reading today God makes a promise and a command. He promises that He will raise up for the people a Prophet like Moses. At the same time, He requires that the people will listen to that Prophet because…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Anthony Of Egypt, Abbot

By CAROLE BRESLIN While we can understand that God is infinite, it is difficult to comprehend the stretch of such infinity. Certainly our finite minds cannot begin to comprehend it. Hence, since our minds our finite, the more we have cluttering our minds with worldly affairs such as possessions, relationships, and activities, the less time and room we have in…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Stephen, Protomartyr

By CAROLE BRESLIN In the popular Christmas carol, The Twelve Days of Christmas, a different gift is given for each of the twelve days of Christmas. This celebration of twelve days begins with December 26, the Feast of St. Stephen, and ends with the Epiphany, traditionally celebrated on January 6. The Catholic Church celebrates the Christmas octave, eight days of…Continue Reading