ROBERT BELLARMINE, SJ. (1542–1621), theologian and controversialist. Roberto Francesco Romolo Bellarmino was born at Montepulciano in Tuscany. In 1560 he joined the Jesuits and was ordained priest in 1570. As professor of theology at Louvain (1570), where he came into contact with non-Roman thought, he soon gained a reputation for learning and eloquence; but, partly owing to the cold climate of the N., he moved to Rome in 1576 where he became professor of controversial theology at the newly founded ‘Collegium Romanum’. He was made a cardinal in 1599 and from 1602 to 1605 was Archbishop of Capua. His later years were spent in the composition of works of spirituality.

His life was largely devoted to scholarship and controversy. He proved himself a vigorous and successful opponent of the Protestants, whom he sought to vanquish by reason and argument rather than by dogmatic assertion and abuse; and James I of England engaged in controversy with him. His chief work was the Disputationes de Controversiis Christianae Fidei adversus hujus temporis Haereticos (3 vols., Ingolstadt, 1586–93), a systematic and clear apologia for the RC position. He also took a prominent part in the production of the revised edition of the Vulgate, known as the Sixto-Clementine, in 1592. As regards the Papacy, he supported Paul V in his struggle against Venice and wrote a book against that of W. Barclay of Aberdeen (c.1547–1608) denying the temporal authority of the Pope; but Bellarmine held that the Pope had only an indirect, not a direct, power in temporal matters, a view which had previously brought him into disgrace with Sixtus V. Finally his sympathetic interest in G. Galileo reflects his reasonableness.

He became entitled to the appellation of ‘Venerable’ in 1627, but further recognition was long delayed, despite frequent attempts to secure it, owing to his minimizing view of Papal authority. He was eventually canonized in 1930 and declared to be a Doctor of the Church in 1931. Feast day, 17 Sept. (formerly 13 May).

Collected edn. of his works pub. in 7 vols., Cologne, 1617–21, vol. 7 being ed. by S. Rychius; modern edns., 12 vols., Paris, 1870–4, and 8 vols., Naples, 1872; suppl. to his works ed. X. M. Le Bachelet, SJ, Auctarium Bellarminianum (Paris, 1913); Opera Oratoria Postuma, adiunctis Documetis Variis ad Gubernium Animarum Spectantibus, ed. S. Tromp, SJ (11 vols., Rome, 1942–1969). G. Galeota, SJ, Bellarmino contro Baio a Lovanio: Studio e Testo di un inedito Bellarminiano (Aloisiana. Scritti Pubblicati sotto la direzione della Pontificia Facoltà Teologica Napoletana ‘S. Luigi’, 5; Rome, 1966). Eng. tr. of some of his spiritual writings by J. P. Donnelly, SJ, and R. J. Teske, SJ (Classics of Western Spirituality, New York [1989]). His autobiography, written in 1613, was pr. at the time of his attempted beatification, Rome, 1676; repr. Louvain, 1753. The primary authorities for his life are the biographies of J. Fuligatti, SJ (Rome, 1624), D. Bartoli, SJ (ibid., 1678), and N. Frizon, SJ (Nancy, 1708). X. M. Le Bachelet, SJ, Bellarmin avant son cardinalat, 1524–1598 (1911); id., Bellarmin et la bible sixto-clémentine (1911), both with docs. Modern Life by J. Brodrick, SJ (2 vols., London, 1928; abridged in 1 vol., 1961). F. X. Arnold, Die Staatslephhre des Kardinals Bellarmin (Munich, 1934). E. A. Ryan, SJ, The Historical Scholarship of Saint Bellarmine (Université de Louvain. Recueil de Travaux publiés par les Membres des Conférences d’Histoire et de Philologie, 2nd ser. 35; 1936). T. Dietrich, Die Theologie der Kirche bei Robert Bellarmin (1542–1621) (Konfessionskundliche und Kontroverstheologische Studien, 69; Paderborn, 1999). P. Godman, The Saint us Censor: Robert Bellarmine between Inquisition and Index (Studies in Medieval and Reformation Thought, 80; Leiden, 2000). G. Galeota (ed.), Roberto Bellarmino (Atti del Convegno Internazionale di Studi, Capua … 1988; 2 vols., Capua, 1990), with systematic bibl. by A. Mancia, 2, pp. 805–72. A. M. Artola, CP, De la Revelación a la Inspiración: Los orígenes de la moderna teologia católica sobre la Inspiración biblica (Bilbao, 1983), pp. 30–6, 41–51, 62–5, and 79 f. Sommervogel, 1 (1890), cols. 1151–254; Polgár, 1 (1990), pp. 234–59. P. Dudon, SJ, in DHGE 7 (1934), cols. 798–824, s.v. ‘Bellarmin’; G. Galeota, SJ, in Dict. Sp. 13 (1988), cols. 713–20, s.v. ‘Robert (3) Bellarmin’.


Sommervogel Augustin de Backer, SJ, Aloys de Backer, SJ, and A. Carayon, SJ, Bibliothèque de la Compagnie de Jésus, ed. C. Sommervogel, SJ (12 vols., 1890–1932; repr., Louvain, 1960).

Polgár L. Polgár, SJ, Bibliographic sur l’Histoire de la Compagnie de Jésus 1901–1980, 3: Les Personnes (3 vols., Rome, 1990).

Dict. Dictionnaire de Spiritualité, ed. M. Viller, SJ, and others (16 vols. + index, 1937–95).

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