Optional Memorial of St. Robert Bellarmine, bishop and doctor
Today is the optional memorial of St. Robert Bellarmine. The third of ten children, Robert was born at Montepulciano, Italy, in October 4, 1542. His mother, Cinzia Cervini, a niece of Pope Marcellus II, was dedicated to almsgiving, prayer, meditation, fasting, and mortification of the body.
In 1560 Robert Bellarmine entered the Society of Jesus, finishing his studies at Louvain, Belgium. He easily ranks among its greatest men, illustrious for learning as well as for piety, humility, and simplicity of heart. He defended the Apostolic See against the anti-clericals in Venice and against the political tenets of James I of England. His most famous work is The Controversies, a collection of the lectures he delivered at the Roman College. In it, he set out the teaching of the Fathers, the Councils and the Church Law to victoriously defend the dogmas of the Church which were being attacked by heretics.
He was made a Cardinal in 1599, but after a disagreement with the Pope was sent as bishop to Capua in 1602. He was a very pastoral bishop, visiting, preaching and teaching, and giving the example of a truly Christian life. He returned to Rome in 1605, and died in 1621.
He is the patron of canon lawyers; canonists; catechists; catechumens; archdiocese of Cincinnati, Ohio.
“Sweet Lord, you are meek and merciful.” Who would not give himself wholeheartedly to your service, if he began to taste even a little of your fatherly rule? What command, Lord, do you give your servants? “Take my yoke upon you,” you say. And what is this yoke of yours like? “My yoke,” you say, “is easy and my burden light.” Who would not be glad to bear a yoke that does no press hard but caresses? Who would not be glad for a burden that does not weigh heavy but refreshes? And so you were right to add: “And you will find rest for your souls.” And what is this yoke of yours that does not weary, but gives rest? It is, of course, that first and greatest commandment: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart.” What is easier, sweeter, more pleasant, than to love goodness, beauty, and love, the fullness of which you are, O Lord, my God?”
~ Saint Robert Bellarmine, from The Ascent of the Mind to God