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Saint Robert Bellarmine[Patron of Catechists]
The Angelus ^ | December, 1978 | Donald R. Fantz

Posted on 09/17/2002 4:42:49 PM PDT by Lady In Blue

December 1978, Volume I, Number 12

by Donald Fantz


God, in His eternal wisdom, has seen fit to permit times of great confusion
to sweep over the Church. But in each period of heresy He raises up great men,
known not only for their holiness,but for their brilliance of intellect.

Robert Francis Romulus Bellarmine was born during the height of the Protestant revolt, on October 4, 1542. His maternal uncle was the virtuous Cardinal Cervini, who reigned as Pope Marcellus II for only twenty-two days. Robert's parents had their son educated at the college in Montepulciano, which was founded by the newly approved Society of Jesus. Young Robert pursued his childhood ambition to be a religious and was admitted to the Jesuits in 1560. His mind was attuned to the study of philosophy and theology and he took delight in studying these subjects for long hours. He taught humanities in the City of Florence and in 1569 he was transferred to the great Belgian seat of learning, Louvain, for courses in theology. The primary purpose for his studying at Louvain was that this city was located in the heart of Protestant country and it afforded the seminarian the opportunity of seeing and hearing, on a first hand basis, the results of Protestant thinking.

BELLARMINE was recognized as a keen, thorough theologian. Moreover, he possessed the ability to express himself eloquently, so much so, that he was authorized by his bishop to preach even before his ordination. The Bishop of Ghent ordained him to the Holy Priesthood in 1570 and later appointed him Professor of Theology at the University of Louvain. Here he was noted for his lectures on the Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas. Through his lectures and sermons he won many souls infected by Protestant ideas back to the Faith.

The young priest was sent to the Jesuit Roman College in 1576 and given the charge of the newly founded theological position, "Chair of Controversies". His main task was to shed the light of eternal truths on the heresies which were invading the Church at that time. For twelve years Bellarmine worked untiringly at lectures and writings and became famous throughout Europe as the leading anti-Protestant exponent. So strong and convincing were his arguments that Protestants were forbidden by their pastors to read them and special institutes were begun to try to refute his writings. The lectures he gave were put into book form, the title of which is De Controversiis. It has become his most famous work. The simplicity of his arguments came from a soul which was described by his contemporaries as singular in his freedom from sin, his spirit of humility and poverty, and Ms devotedness to work. His charity knew no bounds and he seemed to be happiest when he was working with the poorest of poor, to whom he gave not only spiritual comfort but of his own material goods as well.

De Controversiis was at first well received by the reigning Pontiff, Sixtus V. However, after Sixtus read through it and realized that Bellarmine took the position that the Holy See did indeed have temporal power, but in an indirect manner rather than direct, the Pope proposed to place the work on The Index. This deeply hurt the author, however, Providence intervened, as Sixtus died before this could take place and the succeeding Pope, Gregory XIV, gave Bellarmine's work his special approval.

OUR SAINT was appointed to several important posts. From 1588 to 1594 he was Spiritual Director and later Rector of the Jesuit College. One of the students under his direction was Aloysius Gonzaga, who died in 1591. Bellarmine later had the happiness of promoting the cause of his beatification. In 1594 Bellarmine was named Provincial of the Order in Naples. Three years later Pope Clement VIII recalled him to Rome, created him a cardinal, examiner of bishops and consuitor to the Holy Office. The Pope was so impressed with Bellarmine that he made him his own theologian, saying that "the Church of God has not his equal in learning."

O God, grant that through the intercession
of Saint Robert we may grow daily in
the love of truth and be worthy promoters
of true unity in the Church.

In 1602 the Pope and Bellarmine were involved in a theological dispute over the seemingly contradictory dogmas of man's free will versus the infallibly efficacious nature of God's grace. The Pope wished to make an infallible definition in this regard and Bellarmine thought it unnecessary. As a result Clement decided to send Bellarmine away from the Vatican. He himself consecrated the cardinal as Archbishop of Capua, to show that there was no animosity involved. Capua is an important see near the port of Naples. Here Bellannine lived for three years, during which time he made frequent visits to the families of his diocese, gave instructions in the Faith to children and adults and gave almost all his salary to the poor of the area. At this time he was instrumental in encouraging the creation of small farms to be run by the peasants and assisted in the opening of various industries for the unemployed.

Pope Clement VIII died in 1605 and was succeeded by Leo XI, whose reign lasted twenty-seven days. Pope Paul V was then elected to the papacy. One of his first acts was to return Bellarmine to Rome and to appoint him a member of the Holy Office. Cardinal Bellarmine had been on friendly terms with Galileo Galilei and it fell to him to warn the scientist to be more reserved in proposing new theories which were not yet established by sufficient proof. At the same time he begged the pope to be more understanding towards Galileo.

IT SEEMED that controversy hounded Bellarmine. He was heavily involved in the dispute between the Vatican and the British monarchy. He wrote several tracts condemning the forcing of Catholics to take the oath of supremacy. English Catholics were torn in conscience because of the wording in the oath which attributed formerly recognized rights of the Church in England as "damnable heresy". This same controversy spread to France and was known as the Gallican theory. In essence, it stated that papal primacy was limited by the temporal power of kings which was inviolable; it also confirmed that papal authority was limited by the authority of the general council of bishops, who alone could give to the pope's pronouncements the authority of infallibility. Cardinal Bellarmine who had had several personal disagreements with the supreme pontiffs of his time, nevertheless remained staunchly loyal to the papacy and to the authority of the pope when properly exercised. He had a clear vision of the truth which the Church has always held of the office of the Vicar of Christ. We are indebted to him for the following statements which was published in his work, De Romano Pontifice (Book II, Chapter 29): "Just as it is licit to resist a pontiff who attacks the body, so it is licit to resist him who attacks souls, or who disturbs the civil order, or above all, who tries to destroy the Church. It is licit to resist him by not doing what he orders and by impeding the execution of his will. It is not licit, however, to judge him, to punish him, or to depose him, for such acts belong to a superior."

TOWARDS THE END of his life, Cardinal Bellarmine wrote several devotional works, among them Ascent of the Mind to God, On the Seven Words of Christ, The Sighing Dove, and The Art of Dying Well He took part in several papal elections and, at one time, was considered as a prime candidate for that office. Shortly after the election of Pope Gregory XV his health began to fail and he retired in the summer of 1621 to the Monastery of Sant' Andrea in Rome. He edified all those around him by his complete resignation to the Will of God and died peacefully at the age of seventy-nine years, September 17, 1621.

After his death those who knew him best remarked about his heroic sanctity, his sense of mortification and selflessness in the service of God. Although long recognized as a saint, he was officially beatified on May 13, 1923, by Pope Pius XI. The same pope canonized him on June 29, 1930, and declared him a Doctor of the Church in 1931. His remains rest today in the Jesuit Church of St. Ignatius Loyola, next to his spiritual son, Saint Aloysius Gonzaga.

DONALD R. FANTZ, a former seminarian with the Redemptorist Fathers, is one of the Founders of the Holy Innocents School and a member of the Society of St. Pius X Parish in Concord, California.


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The 15 Marks of the Catholic Church


Developed by St. Robert Bellarmine,1542-1621, Doctor of the Church and Cardinal...

 1. The Church's Name, Catholic, universal, and world wide, and not confined to any particular nation or people.

2. Antiquity, in tracing her ancestry directly to Jesus Christ.   

3. Constant Duration, in lasting substantially unchanged for so many centuries.

4. Extensiveness, in the number of her loyal members.

5. Episcopla Succession, of her Bishops from the first Apostles at the Last Supper to the present hierarchy.

6. Doctrinal Agreement, of her doctrine with the teaching of the ancient Church.

7. Union, of her members among themselves, and with their visible head, the Roman Pontiff.

8. Holiness, of doctrine in reflecting the sanctity of GOD.

9. Efficacy, of doctrine in its power to sanctify believers, and inspire them to great moral      achievement.

10. Holiness of Life, of the Church's representative writers and defenders.

11. The glory of Miracles, worked in the Church and under the Church's auspices.

12. The gift of Prophesy found among the Church's saints and spokesmen.

13. The Opposition that the Church arouses among those who attack her on the very grounds that Christ was opposed by His enemies.

14. The Unhappy End, of those who fight against her.

15. The Temporal Peace and Earthly Happiness of those who live by the Church's teaching and defend her interests.


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1 posted on 09/17/2002 4:42:49 PM PDT by Lady In Blue
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To: nickcarraway
Was the other patron of catechists - St. John Eudes?
2 posted on 09/17/2002 4:44:46 PM PDT by Lady In Blue
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To: *Catholic_list; father_elijah; Salvation; NYer; JMJ333; SMEDLEYBUTLER; BlackElk
3 posted on 09/17/2002 4:47:05 PM PDT by Lady In Blue
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To: Lady In Blue
I think it was one of the early church fathers.
4 posted on 09/17/2002 4:52:49 PM PDT by nickcarraway
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To: nickcarraway
It was? I'll have to think some more on it.I still can't remember who it was.
5 posted on 09/17/2002 4:57:15 PM PDT by Lady In Blue
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To: Lady In Blue
"12. The gift of Prophesy found among the Church's saints and spokesmen."

Here's a prophetic quote ( from St. Robert Bellarmine:

"For all catholics actually perceive antichrist to be one certain man but all the previously referenced heretics in a manner peculiar to them proprie teach antichrist not to be a single person but rather they teach the antichrist to be a single throne or tyrannical kingdom or the apostolic chair of those who preside over the catholic church

For it must be known that in the divine letters the Holy Spirit to have given as six sure signs concerning the coming of the antichrist: two which precede himself namely the preaching of the gospel in the whole world and the devastation of the Roman Empire; the contemporaneous men (2 witnesses) which it is to be seen prophesied Enoch and Elias and the greatest and last persecution and also that the public sacrifice (of the mass) shall completely cease; the two following signs surely the death if the antichrist after 3 and half years (after his rise to power) and the end of the world, none of which signs have we seen at this time. The 3rd demonstration arises from the coming of Enoch and Elias who live even now and and shall live until they come to oppose Antichrist himself and to preserve the elect in the faith of Christ and in the end shall convert the Jews and it is certain that this has not yet been fullfilled. But it is easily seen that by is truly this is not a childish fantasy but a most true concept the Enoch and Elias shall personally return and it is also seen that the contrary concept (that they will not personally return) is either absolutely heretical or a serious error very close to heretical

The sixth demonstration arises from the last sign, that follows antichrist which shall be the consummation of the world. After antichrist at once comes the last Judgement…the future reign of antichrist shall be one thousand two hundred and ninety days duration. Mat 24 “this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached to the whole world and then shall come the consummation (of the world). That is a little after antichrist shall come the end of the world "
6 posted on 09/17/2002 6:18:21 PM PDT by Domestic Church
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To: nickcarraway
I think that it was Saint Ephrem,also spelled Ephraim.

April 8, 2002
volume 13, no. 66

E-mail       Print
Saint Ephrem the Syrian

"Harp of the Holy Ghost" and "Column of the Church"

    The second man chronologically to be afforded the highest honor of Doctor of the Church was the Syrian born deacon Saint Ephrem. He is also known as both Ephraem or Ephraim and is also considered one of the esteemed Fathers of the Church, among 25 in the 4th Century. He was born in 306 in Nisibis, which at that time was Mesopotamia. Today it is part of Syria. Though originally thought to have born into a pagan family, enough research has collaborated that he was indeed born to Christian parents. He was baptized at the age of eighteen by Saint James of Niibis before entering into religious life. While still studying he accompanied St. James to the First Council of Nicaea. It set him on fire for his faith.

    He never became a priest, remaining a deacon all his life. Many believe it is because he did not feel worthy to be ordained. He was known for his great humility, the kind that made him distrust himself and place total trust in God. He was also a man of deep prayer and the Syrians swear that it was his prayers which delivered their city of Nisibis from the Persian occupation in 350. Historians relate that a cloud of insects, mostly flies and mosquitos menacingly hovered over the Persian troops led by Sapor II and this caused them to withdraw, sparing Nisibis. Ephrem's prayers also delivered his people from the ravages of the Roman Emperor Julian, also known as "the Apostate." However, as was the case in those times with the whim of Roman Emperors as we saw last week with Saint Athanasius, Christian Catholics could go from the frying pan into the fire, so to speak. When the Roman Emperor Jovian succeeded Julian he was only too happy to leave the people of Nisibis fending for themselves. In fact, he betrayed Ephrem and his fellow Nisibiites by ceding over to Persia the city of Nisibis, bringing on all kinds of new persecutions in the year 363.

    The harassment was so intense that Ephrem was forced to flee with many followers to the desert where the Holy Ghost greatly inspired him to write for the Syrians considered him the "Prophet of their people," the "Harp of the Holy Ghost" and the "Column of the Church." That last title derived from his association with the hermits who dwelled on plateaus, also known as pillars. Ephrem settled in a cave outside of Edessa and it was there where he first met another Doctor of the Church Saint Basil. Later he traveled to Caesarea to meet again with the saint in 370. Though there was not the persecution in Edessa that there was in Nisibis, the former was ripe with heresies, namely ten different heretical sects spreading Arianism and Gnosticism. He fiercely resisted and preached and wrote against these anathemas, gaining many converts and followers.

    St. Ephrem was a consumate poet, his homilies conveyed the truths of the Faith in verse, which in Syrian were seven-syllable gems called memre in Syriac. It was his way of reaching many and of putting it clearly for those confused by the Arian ambiguity and false teachings. Its impact in Syrian were astounding, whereas when translated into English they do not have the same impact, nonetheless retain all the truths he taught. He had a deep, abiding love for the Blessed Virgin Mary and is remembered by the Syrians as a witness to Mary's Immaculate Conception. He staunchly defended Mary's sinlessness and total purity.

    He wrote extensively on the Scriptures, much of which have been lost including his translations and commentaries on the Old and New Testaments. His exegesis was astounding for its thoroughness and his clinging to the literal sense of the Word to preserve the dogmatic integrity of Holy Mother Church. Saint Gregory of Nyssa relates that it was his writings which set him apart as the "Harp of the Holy Ghost," the "Sun of the Syrians" for he brought light into their life - the Light of Christ's truths. The 'harp' reference indicated that he introduced into the Syrian Church the use of hymns and canticles for the particular liturgical season. They have been translated from Syriac into Greek, Latin and Armenian.

    From St. Gregory of Nyssa we also discover that it was St. Basil who ordained Ephrem a deacon. He felt compelled to seek St. Basil out, saying "I whom he went to see at the bidding of the Holy Spirit, 'I am that Ephrem who have wandered from the path of Heaven." Then, as Butler's Lives of the Saints relates, he burst into tears and cried out, "O my father, have pity on a sinful wretch, and lead me on the narrow way."

    Butler's also records that as he lay near death after a great famine in Edessa in which he labored for the poor, touching souls everywhere and never expressing anger in his life, he was always humble.

    "Tears used to stop his voice when he preached. He trembled and made his hearers tremble at the thought of God's judgments; but he found in compunction and humility the way to peace, and he rested with unshaken confidence in the mercy of our blessed Lord. 'I am setting out,' he says, speaking of his own death, 'I am setting out on a journey hard and dangerous. Thee, O Son of God, I have taken for my Viaticum. When I am hungry, I will feed on Thee. The infernal fire will not venture near me, for it cannot bear the fragrance of They Body and They Blood.'"

    He died in Edessa in 373 and was greatly mourned. Twenty years after his death, the great Saint Jerome recalled his holiness and spread his work, even translating some of his works and studying them in detail when he set about translating into Latin the Vulgate edition. Ephrem is greatly honored in the Eastern Church, not as much in the Western Church though his feast day is celebrated traditionally on the day of his death June 18th. In the new liturgy it has been moved up nine days to June 9th. He was officially proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in 1920 by Pope Benedict XV.

Next Monday: Saint Cyril of Jerusalem

Note: [editor's bold, brackets and italicized for emphasis]

April 8, 2002
volume 13, no. 66
33 Doctors of the Church
Return to Current Issue

7 posted on 09/17/2002 6:38:05 PM PDT by Lady In Blue
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To: Domestic Church
Thank you for posting this prophesy of St.Bellarmine.I'd never heard of it.
8 posted on 09/17/2002 6:41:42 PM PDT by Lady In Blue
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Comment #9 Removed by Moderator

Comment #10 Removed by Moderator

Thanks very much,HDMZ for your very informative post! And for reminding me that I had read somewhere that Jefferson got his ideas for the Declaration of Independence -apparently not knowing that they came from a Catholic Saint,St.Bellarmine! God works in mysterious ways! Thanks for your links.I'll check them out.
11 posted on 09/17/2002 7:55:30 PM PDT by Lady In Blue
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To: Lady In Blue
Thank you, Lady in Blue for all this information. I also saw the notation about the Stigmata of St. Francis of Assisi today but chose to post what was put forth for Mass rather than the special Mass.
12 posted on 09/17/2002 9:52:34 PM PDT by Salvation
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To: Lady In Blue
Saint Ephrem:Doctor Of The Church
13 posted on 09/17/2002 11:00:23 PM PDT by nickcarraway
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To: HDMZ; Lady In Blue
"Thomas Jefferson became familiar with Bellarmine's writings through a third hand source, not knowing that it originated from Bellarmine or from the Catholic Church, and Bellarmine's theses formed the basis for the Declaration of Independence."

Wow!!! What a blessing for America. What a great tidbit to include in teaching American history. Do you have any links/books relative to this? I didn't know anything about this Saint until this posting...thanks!
14 posted on 09/18/2002 5:46:16 AM PDT by Domestic Church
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To: Domestic Church
Bumping on 9-17-03 St. Roboert Bellarmine!
16 posted on 09/17/2003 9:00:58 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Lady In Blue

BTTT on 09-17-04, Optional Memorial of St. Robert Bellarmine.

17 posted on 09/17/2004 7:06:33 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Lady In Blue

BTTT on the Optional Memorial of St. Robert Bellarmine, 09-17-05!

18 posted on 09/17/2005 6:59:29 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Lady In Blue
St. Robert Bellarmine, Doctor of the Church
19 posted on 09/17/2005 7:12:04 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Lady In Blue

I like these!

20 posted on 09/17/2007 9:21:17 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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