Pages Menu
Categories Menu

Posted by on Sep 17, 2008

St. Robert Bellarmine – September 17

St. Robert Bellarmine – September 17

Once again, the feast of St. Robert Bellarmine is upon us. Last year, Randy wrote a post about Bellarmine’s life and contributions. This year, I thought it would be interesting to hear what a few Jesuits might have to say about him. I wrote to several schools and other institutions named after Robert Bellarmine and to the Jesuit communities at several Jesuit universities. I received responses from people at many of them. Not all had comments they wanted to share, but these men did.  I offer their responses in order received, with my thanks to all those who took the time to respond.

From Alan Yost, SJ – Formerly of Bellarmine Preparatory School in Tacoma, now working in a parish in Yakima, WA.

I don’t necessarily WANT people to know this about Roberto Belarmino, but since it’s true, and in a spirit of transparency, he was one of the main protagonists in the whole Galileo affair, arguing for the Church and against Galileo regarding the earth-centered vs. sun-centered model of the universe. In retrospect, it’s a little embarrassing, but we have to remember that he was a man of his time and that he was ardent in defending his beliefs and the beliefs of the Church at the time. Recall that Pope John Paul II offered a public apology to Galileo about 400 years after the fact.

From Rev. Clyde F. Crews – University Historian, Bellarmine University

We have had as our university motto, from the very beginning of this institution, the words taken from the introit of the Feast of St. Robert Bellarmine:  In Veritatis Amore.  To be truly engaged “in the love of truth” in all its dimensions, joys, tasks, and responsibilities remains a central part of our mission.  We are also struck by the fact that St. Robert was widely known – in the context of his times – for his tolerance, fairness, kindness, and generosity – especially to those in need.

From Fred Mayovsky, SJ – Math teacher at Bellarmine Preparatory School in Tacoma

St. Robert Bellarmine defended Galileo.  OK, Bellarmine was the Pope’s man, but he handled GG with love and gentleness, guiding him (GG) as he (SRB) was telling him what he (GG) could and could NOT state.  SRB was a dove and not a hawk in bringing the Pope’s directives.  In that same vein, when I teach math and demand neatness and organized thought, I will explain HOW to do the homework and not merely expect my students to do what I “expect” but as I “direct”, so that they assimilate knowledge.

Yes, my reflections on Bellarmine, I teach at a school named after him, I teach in a spirit of which I think he would approve.  Sorry I do not have the time to ground and defend my reflections.  But they are MY reflections on a great man, and I have been trying to live by his spirit in HIS school.

From James Flaherty, SJ  Rector of the Jesuit Community at Marquette University

Bellarmine was probably the most important theologian of the Counter-Reformation era. You might check out the website of the Singapore Jesuits for further info. Just google them and look for their hagiographies on Jesuit saints.

My thanks to each of you for the insights you’ve shared. May the Lord richly bless your ministries.


Read More

Posted by on Sep 17, 2007

St. Robert Bellarmine – September 17

Saint of the Day: St. Robert Bellarmine

Roberto Francesco Romolo Bellarmino (1542 – 1621), a Jesuit who became a Cardinal and Doctor of the Church, was one of the major figures of the Counter Reformation. St. Robert Bellarmine has influenced Catholic Church positions on Protestantism, church-state relations, and the temporal power of the Church for 500 years.

St. Robert Bellarmine’s major contribution to Catholic theology was his organization and presentation of this large body of knowledge. The motivation was clearly to counter the position of the Protestant reformers. However, his work was part of a larger re-vitalization and reform movement within the Catholic Church. As the Archbishop of Capua, he implemented the reforms of the Council of Trent (1545-1563) which were to define Catholicism until the later part of the 20th century.

Although the Counter Reformation technically ended with the Thirty Years War in 1648, its general anti-Protestant thrust did not end until Protestants were admitted as observers and non-voting participants in the Second Vatican Council (1962 – 1965).

St. Robert Bellarmine’s extensive systematic writing defined a culture and world view which has not been displaced by Vatican II. His writing spells out clear boundaries and centralizes all authority, ultimately, with the Papacy. The limits of what is Catholic and Protestant are clear and all of the reasons as to why the non-Catholic position in any matter is wrong are also abundantly clear.

There is now a definite nostalgia for the security and limits of the pre-Vatican II Tridentine Catholic world, particularly among priests who have been ordained more recently. Pope Benedict XVI, who attended Vatican II as a theological adviser, has recently announced the revival of the Tridentine Latin Mass. Although the number of Catholics in the United States who support the return of the Latin Mass is only about 2%, there are substantial minority who fear that there has been too much deviation of belief and practice from the standards of the Counter Reformation.

The Vatican II Catholic Church endorsed certain points of the Protestant view that St. Robert Bellarmine and the Tridentine Church opposed. Liturgy in the language of the people, receiving the consecrated wine of communion, emphasizing the role of the laity, and simplifying or eliminating ritual were all opposed by the Council of Trent. To a great extent, Pope John Paul II occasioned the Restorationist movement by silencing dissent, forbidding discussion of the ordination of women, and training priests and appointing bishops who espoused more Tridentine views and devotional practices.

Whether one is a traditionalist or a progressive, the systematic theology of St. Robert Bellarmine forms a core of the identity of the Christian movement’s largest church.

Read More