17 September – St. Robert Bellarmine – Doctor and Pot Scrubber of the Church

Today, 17 September, is the anniversary of the death of St. Robert Bellarmine, “hammer of heretics”.  In the traditional calendar he is celebrated on 13 May.

This mighty Doctor was a true Jesuit. He was a scholar, a good teacher, and a humble servant. As Cardinal and head of the Roman Inquisition he would wash pots with the novices in the kitchen. He was deeply involved in the Galileo Affair. He wrote a Catechism worthy of use even today. He had a catechesis for children that would make our modern suburban RCIA instructors screw up their faces, curl and suck their thumbs. He was a mentor and then devotee of St. Aloysius Gonzaga. His hymn for St. Mary Magdalene is in the Roman Breviary.

I honor this great Robert today, in honor especially of his namesake, quondam Jesuit, the late Extraordinary Ordinary, Robert C. Morlino, Bishop of Madison who was.

Here is an interesting photo.

Last October, during the Pachamama Synod, I dragged a few newsies who when the come to Rome never really venture out away from the Vatican swamp and into Rome – real Roma – to visit a few necessary churches.  I took them to a few needful places, San Luigi, Sant’Agostino, etc.  One of them was Sant’Ignazio, where we find the tomb of Doctor St. Robert.

On the left, there is a Catholic commentator famous among other things for his distinctive hair.  These guys were terrific.  They were so prayerful at each of the altars of the saints whom we visited.

I mentioned the Saint’s great works.  His writings are being translated into English from Latin, at long last.  This is an opus arduum.

Behold Controversies of the Christian Faith translated by the erst-while of Homiletic and Pastoral Review Fr. Kenneth Baker, SJ.  US HERE probably unavailable– UK [nope]

It’s hardcover only, I believe.  But… look at the size of this thing!

The pages, from fairly subtle paper, are jammed with text.

“But Father! But Father!”, you terrified liberals are quaking, “Ho… ho… how long is this book?!?  How many pages of so-called ‘sound teaching’ are there?  If you are happy about this book, it must be rigid and ossified and … and… AGAINST VATICAN II!  JUST LIKE YOU!”

To which I respond: Tremble, heretics, women’s ordination fans, and Fishwrap schismatics.

Next, available also on Kindle (don’t have a Kindle yet? US HERE – UK HERE), Doctrina Christiana: The Timeless Catechism of St. Robert Bellarmine translated by Ryan Grant with an introduction by the great Bp. Athanasius Schneider. US HERE – UK HERE

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. acardnal says:

    Recently, “Keep the Faith” HERE has also published other works by St. Bellarmine and translated by Fr. Ken Baker, SJ, for example, there are two books of Bellarmine’s sermons! Available HERE order via Father Z’s link.

  2. xavier says:


    Are his works available in Latin as well or in a bilingual text a la Loeb’s classical library?


  3. JakeMC says:

    Oh, I weep. So many wonderful books, such teeny-tiny print that damaged eyes can no longer read.
    Seriously, I love hardcover books. Nothing beats their ambience. Before my eyes were damaged, given the choice between the less expensive paperback and (sometimes VERY) expensive hardbacks, I’d take the hardcover every time, even if I had to save for months to be able to afford it. But now, my need for large print means I’ve had to switch to e-books. While I can still curl up in my comfortable armchair with a tablet computer, it’s just not the same.

  4. Grant M says:

    The patron of my parish church. Most of the priests around here seem to have SJ after their name. I guess the Jesuits were the first Catholic clergy to arrive in this part of the world, for better or worse.

  5. Charivari Rob says:

    Father, we were talking here at home and puzzling over “His writings are being translated into English from Latin, at long last.”.
    Surely his writings had already been published in English at some point in the past. Or is this a case of older publications being translations from other translations (German, French?) and this is the first published translation direct to English from the original Latin?

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