Via del Caravita 8A, 00186 Roma

Roberto (Robert) Bellarmino

[Montepulciano, October 4, 1542 – Rome, September 17, 1621] Born to a rich and numerous Tuscan family and grandson of a pope (his mother was the sister of Marcello II), Robert Bellarmine in 1560 he entered the Society of Jesus, giving up any hope career human. Yet he went very far. He studied theology at Padua and Leuven and in 1576 became the first holder of the chair “de controversiis”, ie of apologetics or defense of Catholic orthodoxy at the Gregorian University, which at that time was called the Roman College. In those years among his pupils there was St. Aloysius Gonzaga. Appointed Cardinal and Archbishop of Capua in 1599, probably to keep him away from Rome at the height of the controversy over grace, the death of Clement VIII was able to return to the city of Peter, where he exercised great influence as the official theologian of the Church, with her doctrine and example of his charity and simplicity of life, that people admired. He wrote many exegetical works, pastoral and ascetic; fundamental for apologetics are the bulky books “De controversiis”. After his death, the beatification process, begun shortly thereafter, lasted for three centuries. Then in one year alone, in 1930, by Pope Pius XI had the triple glorification of blessed, holy and Doctor of the Church. Brought instinctively admire the skillful polemicist in skirmishes of the word or script, but not to love him because we represent it as a man of superior intelligence, we discover with amazement in the learned Jesuit very human side. In the first three years of religious life he suffered from excruciating pain to the head and yet the completion of theological studies he supported the defense of his thesis for three consecutive days, before a fascinated audience. The school commitments not distracted him from ever prayer. Recalled to Rome, among the various positions had also to spiritual director, and as such was next to St. Aloysius Gonzaga until the last moments of life. If his vast erudition and vigorous dialectic at the service of Catholic doctrine earned him the title of “the hammer of heretics”, a simple in structure but rich in wisdom as his Catechism earned him the title of “master” of many generations of children that in that little book-shaped box have learned the fundamental truth of the faith professed by baptism. Having filled a whole shelf of theological works, he wrote “The art of dying well”, that is the way to say farewell to the life with serenity and detachment.


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