Lives of the Saints

Our Models and Protectors

May 13
  September 17

Saint Robert Bellarmine

Doctor of the Church, Cardinal
(1542-1621)

Saint Robert Bellarmine
Saint Robert Bellarmine

Saint Robert Bellarmine was born at Montepulciano, Italy in 1542, the third of ten children. After being educated by the Jesuits, he joined the Society of Jesus in 1560, and as a young man taught Greek, Hebrew and theology. While at Louvain University he became famous as a controversialist, and never afterwards did he cease to defend Catholic doctrine against its adversaries. He has enriched the Church with a large number of learned and valuable writings, among which are his Course of Controversy, his famous Commentary on the Psalms, and a treatise on The Seven Last Words of Jesus Christ.

In 1598 Saint Robert was made a Cardinal and in 1602 was raised to the archbishopric of Capua. In 1605 he was recalled to Rome and appointed head of the Vatican Library. He served as theologian and counselor to five Popes: Sixtus V, Innocent IX, Clement VIII, Paul V, and Gregory XV. He died in October of 1621, greatly mourned by the people of Rome as well as by the hierarchy, and was canonized by Pope Pius XI in 1930. The following year the same Vicar of Christ declared him a Doctor of the Church. His tomb is in the Jesuit Church, the Gesù, in Rome.

Heavenly Friends: a Saint for each Day, by Rosalie Marie Levy (Saint Paul Editions: Boston, 1958); Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 11