Today We Celebrate the Feast Day of the Patron Saint of Fairfield University, St. Robert Bellarmine, S.J.

Date: 09-17-2020

            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

(BX4700.B25  B73).

        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 /