17 September 1621 – St. Robert Bellarmine – Doctor and Pot Scrubber of the Church – 400th anniversary of his death

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.

Today is the 400th anniversary of his death.

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.

During the Pachamama Synod, I dragged a few newsies who have a certain militant website away from the Vatican swamp and into Rome – real Roma – to visit a few necessary churches: San Luigi, Sant’Agostino, etc.

One of them was Sant’Ignazio, where we find the tomb of Doctor St. Robert.

On the far left… irony… 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

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. excalibur says:

    In case some do not know, you can buy Kindle books and then use the Amazon app to read them on computers and mobile devices.


  2. Rich Leonardi says:

    If you live in Cincinnati, the blasted shame is that when you hear the name “Bellarmine” you instinctively think of Bellarmine chapel on Xavier University’s campus. It is a font of heresy and bad taste. What a pity. That said, I love his catechism and will spend time with it this weekend.

  3. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Thank you for this!

    Wondering what – if any – audiobooks of works of Doctor St. Robert there are, I began at LibriVox.org, to find The Art of Dying Well as translated by a 19th-c. parish priest, Fr. John Dalton, as a work in progress, by a reader not certainly familiar to me, but who seems to have contributed to a number of ‘collaborative’ Catholic audiobooks, there, and both to read intelligently and (to my mind) have a pleasing voice (in the excerpt I sampled from Fr. John H. Stapleton’s Explanation of Catholic Morals).

  4. Andrew says:

    Everybody wants a translation. So disappointing. Isn’t there one person – at least one – who might want to read these works as they were written, in the language they were written? Catholics. Roman Catholics. How sad. Frustrating! Why so much sweat and so much money to squeeze a beautiful Latin text into a vulgar language? Pitiful.

  5. rkirschmann says:

    When visiting Rome several years ago, discerning a possible vocation to the Society of Jesus, a good friend of mine, and one of the most solid Jesuits I know, who teaches at the Pontifical Biblical Institute, was good enough to say a votive Mass for St. Robert Bellarmine, my patron, at his altar in Sant’Ignazio. It was the highlight of the trip.

  6. Venerator Sti Lot says:


    I suspect there are many who would rejoice “to read these works as they were written, in the language they were written” – but, in every instance, how to get ‘there’, from ‘here’, if possible, and what to do in the meantime?

    A good translation can be an aid for ‘getting into’ the Latin, if you have both (as, of course, can an interlinear ‘crib’ or ‘pony’ – but I do not imagine there are many St. Robert Bellarmine ‘ponies’ – if any).

    Even if you work to brush up or acquire Latin, and wrestle with your (probably online) original text, and resist too readily ‘checking’ the translation, is there nothing to be said for also getting a good idea of what has been written from a good translation, before you are finally ready to critically analyze that translation on the basis of the original?

  7. Today is also the feast of the new doctor of the Church, St. Hildegard of Bingen. If you have some Latin, you might find her second reading for Office of Readings interesting and timely: http://www.cultodivino.va/content/cultodivino/it/documenti/decreti-generali/decreti-generali/2021/de-indcriptione-ecclesiae-doctorum-in-calendario-romano/adnexus/latino.html Go to p. 7.

    Readers may also find interesting this article on why St. Hildegard rejected the ordination of women: https://www.jstor.org/stable/3167533

  8. Grant M says:

    St Robert Bellarmine is the patron of my parish church. I walked there the other day with the notion of making my confession after a long interval, but found the church still closed tight after 18 months. The secretary in the presbytery told me that the priests were no longer resident there.
    Fr. Z: Go to confession!
    Me: Working on it…

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