Patron of Canonists
Born at Montepulciano, Italy, on October 4, 1542. St. Robert Bellarmine was the third of ten children. His mother, a niece of Pope Marcellus II, was dedicated to almsgiving, prayer, meditation, fasting, and mortification.
Robert entered the newly formed Society of Jesus in 1560 and after his ordination went on to teach at Louvain (1570-1576) where he became famous for his Latin sermons. In 1576, the Saint was appointed to the chair of Controversial Theology at the Roman College, becoming Rector in 1592; he went on to become Provincial of Naples in 1594 and Cardinal in 1598.
Robert defended the Apostolic See against the anti-clericals in Venice and against the political tenets pf James I of England. He composed an exhaustive apologetic work against the prevailing heresies of his day. In the field of Church-State relations, he took a position based on principles now regarded as fundamentally democratic—authority originates with God, but is vested in the people, who entrust it to fit rulers.
This Saint was the spiritual father of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, helped St. Francis de Sales obtain formal approval of the Visitation Order, and in his prudence apposed severe action in the case of Galileo. He has left many important writings, including works of devotion and instruction, as well as controversy. He died in 1621, was canonized in 1930 by Pope Pius XI and named a Doctor in 1931 by the same Pontiff.
PRAYER: God, in order to vindicate the faith of Your Church You endowed St. Robert, Your Bishop, with wondrous erudition and virtues. Through his intercession, grant that Your people may ever rejoice in the integrity of that faith. Amen.