Robert Bellarmine

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Robert Bellarmine (full name in Italian: Roberto Francesco Romolo Bellarmino) (4 October 1542 – 17 September 1621) was an Italian Jesuit and a Cardinal of the Catholic Church. He was one of the most important figures in the Counter-Reformation. He was canonized in 1930 and is a Doctor of the Church.



Early years

Bellarmine was born at Montepulciano to a noble – though impoverished – family, son of Vincenzo Bellarmino and wife Cinzia Cervini who was sister of Pope Marcellus II. His abilities showed themselves early; as a boy he knew Virgil by heart and composed a number of poems in Italian and Latin. One of his hymns, on Mary Magdalene, is included in the Breviary.

His father destined him for a political career, hoping that he might restore the fallen glories of the family. His mother, however, wished him to enter the Society of Jesus, and her influence prevailed. He entered the Roman novitiate in 1560, remaining in Rome three years. He then went to a Jesuit house at Mondovì, in Piedmont, where he learned Greek.

Bellarmine's systematic study of theology began at the University of Padua in 1567 and 1568, where his teachers were Thomists. But in 1569 he was sent to finish it at Leuven, near Brussels, where he could obtain a fuller acquaintance with the prevailing heresies. There he was ordained, and he quickly obtained a reputation both as a professor and a preacher, in the latter capacity drawing to his pulpit both Catholics and Protestants, even from distant parts.

He was the first Jesuit to teach at the university, where the subject of his course was the Summa of Thomas Aquinas; he also made extensive studies in the Fathers and medieval theologians, which gave him the material for his book "De scriptoribus ecclesiasticis" (Rome, 1613), which was later revised and enlarged by Sirmond, Labbeus, and Casimir Oudin.

In Rome – The Disputations

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