Today We Celebrate the Feast Day of the Patron Saint of Fairfield University, St. Robert Bellarmine, S.J.
Today the Fairfield University community celebrates the feast day of St. Robert Bellarmine, S.J. the Patron Saint of Fairfield University. We'll celebrate with a special lunch at a later date!
The following short biography was written by the late Rev. Joe MacDonnell, S.J. (RIP) former member of the Math Department.
Saint Robert Bellarmine, S.J. (1542-1621) was a Cardinal and Doctor of
the Universal Church and is the Patron Saint of Fairfield University. He was
one of the most learned men of his time and his books were such a powerful
vindication of the Catholic Church that Queen Elizabeth forbade her subjects
from publishing or selling them under
pain of death. He had the ability to simplify the great truths of
theology and put them within range of ordinary people. He wrote a catechism
that was translated into 62 different languages and was used up until the last
century. A very popular orator, he could memorize an hour-long Latin sermon by
reading it over once. Bellarmine confronted the Protestant Reformers and
justified the right of the Catholic Church to defend herself and the faith, to
meet moral issues and to somehow guide and correct the temporal order.
In spite of his protests, the Pope made him a Cardinal "because he was
without equal for learning in the Church of God." From this new vantage point
he set about to root out the abuses which gave the Reformers grounds for their
criticisms of the Church and he presented to Pope Clement VIII a denunciation
of the major abuses prevalent in the Pope's own Roman Curia. He also pointed
out that the Pope was not the Church's overlord but its administrator. Only
Pope Sixtus V's death prevented Sixtus from putting some of Bellarmine's
writings on the list of forbidden books because Bellarmine opposed the Pope's
theory of direct papal power over civil authority. In the 1605 conclave for
the chioce to succeed Pope Leo XI Bellarmine found himself as one of the
leading candidates for the papacy, so he prayed daily "from the papacy deliver
me O Lord!"
His concern for education was apparent from the letters he wrote urging
careful training of mathematics teachers. Galileo invited Bellarmine to see
the new-found wonders of the sky in his telescope and later Bellarmine turned
to Jesuit scientists to confirm Galileo's findings.
This resulted in Bellarmine's gentle treatment of Galileo at his trial - which
did not please the Holy Office. More can be discovered about this fascinating
academic from the book Robert Bellarmine Saint and Scholar by James Brodrick
It is hard to imagine anyone with better qualifications to be the
patron of Fairfield University not only because of his brilliant scholarship
offered freely in the service of others, but also his commitment to
intellectual integrity. He was not to be intimidated by anyone either inside
or outside the Church.
For more information, contact Jim Fitzpatrick / x2378 / firstname.lastname@example.org