Bellarmine, Robert (Roberto Francesco Romulo Bellarmino), was born at Monte Pulciano, Tuscany, Oct. 4, 1542, being nephew, on his mother's side, of Pope Marcellus II. His father, intending him for civil life, sent him to the University of Padua; but the bent of his mind was toward theology, and in 1560 he entered the society of the Jesuits. His remarkable talents and progress in knowledge induced his superiors to order him to preach while
'a yet he was only a deacon; and at Mondovi, Florence, Padua, and Louvain, his talents as a preacher were first known. In 1569 he was admitted to the priesthood, and in the year following lectured on theology at Louvain, being the first Jesuit who had done so. He preached also in Latin with great repute. Upon his return to Rome in 1576, Pope Gregory XIII appointed him lecturer in controversial divinity in the new college (Collegium Romanum) which he had just founded; and Sixtus V sent him with Cardinal Cajetan into France, in the time of the League, to act as theologian to that legation, in case any controversy should arise with the Protestants, for which his studies during his residence in the Netherlands had eminently fitted him. In 1598 he was elevated to the purple by Clement VIII, and in 1601 he was made archbishop of Capua. This see he held only four years, and resigned it on being appointed librarian of the Vatican, refusing to retain a bishopric at which he could not reside. He would have been elected pope had not the cardinals feared the degree of power which the Jesuits might have attained with one of their body on the papal throne. Bellarmine died on the 17th of September, 1621, aged sixty-nine, with the reputation of being one of the most learned controversialists in Europe. It is curious that the favorite maxim of such an acute and learned controversialist was, "that an ounce of peace is worth a pound of victory." The chief work of Bellarmine is his Body of Controversy ("De Controversiis Christianae fidei," etc.), first printed at Ingoldstadt, in 3 vols. fol., 1587-88-90. Another edition, corrected by himself, appeared at Venice, which was reprinted at Paris in 1602. In 1608 another edition (that of the Triadelphi) was put forth at Paris, corrected and augmented upon a Memoir published by the author at Rome in 1607, entitled Recognitio librorum omnium R. B. ab ipso edita. In this celebrated work Bellarmine generally lays down the positions of his adversaries fairly, without concealing their strength — a candor which, as Mosheim says, has exposed him to the reproaches of many writers of his own communion; and as, at the same time, he states the claims and dogmas of Rome unreservedly he is a much better source of information as to real Roman doctrine than such advocates as Bossuet and Mohler. Of this celebrated work vol. 1 contains three general controversies:
(1.) On the Word of God, which, he says, is either written or unwritten; the written word is contained in the New and Old Testaments, the canonicity of which he defends. He maintains that the Church alone is the lawful interpreter.
(2.) Of Jesus Christ, the Head of the Church; in which he proves the divinity of our Lord against the Arians; defends the Trinity; establishes the Procession of the Holy Spirit, and justifies the addition of the word Filioque to the Creed.
(3.) Of the Sovereign Pontiff, where he maintains that the government of the Church is purely monarchical; that St. Peter was the head of the Church, and that the popes succeed him in that quality; that they are infallible in their dogmatic judgments; that they have an indirect power over the temporal authorial of kings, etc.
Vol. 2 contains four heads:
(1.) Of the Councils and the Church: among general Councils he reckons eighteen approved, eight disapproved, and six only partly approved (among which are Frankfort, Constance, and Basle), and one (Pisa, 1509) neither approved nor disapproved. He gives to the pope the authority to convoke and approve councils, and makes him superior to a general council. In the third book he treats of the visibility and indefectibility of the Church, and of the Notes of the Church.
(2.) Of the Members of the Church, viz., clerks, monks, and laymen.
(3.) Of the Church in Purgatory: in this he states, and endeavors to prove, the Roman doctrine of purgatory.
(4.) Of the Church Triumphant, relating to the beatitude and worship of the saints. Vol. in relates to the sacraments in general and in particular; and vol. 4 treats of original sin; the necessity of grace, free-will, justification; the merit of good works, especially of prayer, fasting, and alms-giving; various matters disputed among the scholastic theologians, etc. Besides these works, we have of Bellarmine 3 vols. fol. of Opera Diversa, published at Cologne in 1617, containing,
1. Commentaries on the Psalms, and Sermons: —
2. A Treatise of Ecclesiastical Writers (often reprinted): —
3. Treatises on the Translation of the Empire; on Indulgences; the Worship of Images (against the synod of Paris); and on the judgment on a book entitled the "Concord of the Lutherans." Also,
4. Four Writings on the Affairs of Venice: —
5. Two Writings against James I of England: —
6. A Treatise, De potestate summi pontificis in rebus temporalibus, against William Barclay, condemned in 1610 by the Parliament: —
7. Some Devotional Pieces: —
8. Treatises on the Duties of Bishops (reprinted at Wurzburg in 1749, 4to): —
9. His Catechism, or Christian Doctrine, which has been translated into many different languages: it was suppressed at Vienna by the Empress Maria Theresa. In his treatise De potestate summi Pontificis contra Barclaium (Romans 1610, 8vo), he maintains the indirect temporal authority of the pope over princes and governments. The best edition of his whole works is that of Cologne, 1620 (7 vols. fol.). The De Controversiis was reprinted at Rome, 1832-40 (4 vols. 4to). A good Life of Bellarmine is given in Rule's Celebrated Jesuits (Lond. 1854, 3 vols. 18mo). An Italian biography of Bellarmine, based on his autobiography, was published by Fuligatti (Rome, 1624). See also Frizon, Vie du Cardinal Bellarmine (Nancy, 1708, 4to); Niceron, Memories, vol. 31; Bayle, Dict. Crit. s.v.; Bellarmine's Notes of the Church Refuted (Lond. 1840, 8vo); Hoefer, Blog. Generale, 5, 222 Herzog, Real-Encyklopadie, s.v.; Landon, Eccles. Dict. 2, 128.