Thursday, September 17, 2009

St. Robert Bellarmine "The Hammer of Heresies"

Since the founding of the Church until our days, Divine Providence has always called illustrious men, who by their knowledge and sanctity have conserved and defended the truths of Catholic Faith against the attacks of heretics. Among these men shines St. Robert Bellarmine (1542-1621), who was celebrated for his teachings and polemic works as well as for his virtue and zeal for the Church. In truth, it would seem that the holy Cardinal had received from God the threefold gift of teaching the people, guiding the faithful, and confounding the Protestant heretics of the 16th century, a time when Protestantism was growing and spreading. He was great as a preacher, professor and polemicist, receiving the title of “hammer of heresies” from Benedict XV. He wrote prodigiously, and to understand the worth of his books one need only read what St. Francis of Sales, his contemporary and friend, said about them: “I preached five years in Chablais with no other books than the Bible and the works of the great Bellarmine.” 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 attacked by the Protestants. Clear, balanced, and forceful, this work is so well done that many considered it insuperable. When it was published, it raised as much joy among Catholics as hatred among the Church’s enemies.

Permit me to provide another fact from his life: St. Robert Bellarmine was the spiritual director of St. Louis Gonzaga. This alone would be honor enough in the life of a man.

What can be said about St. Robert Bellarmine? He was praised as “the hammer of heresies.” There was a time, before Vatican II, when this was a great eulogy. Pope Benedict XV granted him this title. Various other great saints who worked considerable damage on the heresies received similar epithets. He wrote many books demonstrating the Catholic truth and attacking the heretics. His arguments were forceful and hard, but they converted many of them.
(Courtesy of and comments by Prof. Plinio CorrĂȘa de Oliveira, Brazillian intellectual, politician, and Catholic activist)

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