St. Robert Bellarmine
Doctor of the Church
Yesterday (Sept. 17), the Church celebrated the Feast of St. Robert Bellarmine. St. Robert Bellarmine is one of just 33 people who have received the title “Doctor of the Universal Church.” (See the introductory post to my series on the Doctors of the Church.)
St. Robert is the patron saint of catechists. This is because of his extraordinary work in creating two catechisms: one for scholars and one for teachers. These were produced at the order of Pope Clement VIII. They served the Church as the model for future catechisms, such that the First Vatican Council recommended them as the model for the proposed Universal Catechism.
I note this for two reasons:
- I will be teaching the Confirmation Preparation classes for Our Lady Queen of All Saints this year, again (so, I’ll need his intervention – St. Robert Bellarmine, pray for me!);
- catechism classes for OLQAS will begin on Sept. 28, which will coincide with VPCYG’s monthly meeting. Catechism students will attend the VPCYG meeting in lieu of class.
Born in 1542, St. Robert Bellarmine was a wonderful Jesuit whose fame grew from combatting the Protestant heresies that had sprouted up across (northern) Europe during the Reformation. Consequently, he was given the nickname “The Hammer of Heresy” by Pope Benedict XV (a man who deserves a post for himself in the future). St. Robert died on Sept. 17, 1621.
His best known, most influential work was Di Controversiis (or The Controversies), in which he defended the doctrine of the Catholic Church under attack by Protestants. The Catholic Encyclopedia at New Advent says that work was so immense and great that it has not yet been surpassed. The website Tradition In Action notes that it was so effective at converting Protestants that it was forbidden under penalty of death by Queen Elizabeth.
St. Robert Bellarmine’s life also coincided with the (in)famous case of Galileo Galilei. The whole story of Galileo goes much deeper than his involvement with St. Robert, and there are a wealth of resources for understanding the actions, motives, and reactions of Galileo and the Church. A good place to start is at Evangelization Station, which includes a wonderful amount of resources.