Profile Third of ten children on Vincenzo Bellarmine and Cinzia Cervini, a family of impoverished nobles. His mother, a niece of Pope Marcellus II, was dedicated to almsgiving, prayer, meditation, fasting, and mortification. Suffered assorted health problems all his life. Educated by Jesuits as a boy. Joined the Jesuits on 20 September 1560 over his father's opposition; he wanted Robert to enter politics. Studied at the Collegio Romano from 1560 to 1563, Jesuit centers in Florence in 1563 and Mondovi, Piedmont; the University of Padua in 1567 and 1568, and the University of Louvain, Flanders in 1569. Ordained on Palm Sunday, 1570 in Ghent, Belgium.
Professor of theology at the University of Louvain from 1570 to 1576. A the request of Pope Gregory XIII, he taught polemical theology at the Collegio Romano from 1576 to 1587. While there he wrote Disputationes de Controversiis Christianae Fidei adversus hujus temporis hereticos, the most complete work of the day to defend Catholicism against Protestant attack. Spiritual director of the Roman College from 1588. Taught Jesuit students and other children; wrote a children's catechism, Dottrina cristiana breve. Wrote a catechism for teachers, Dichiarazione piu copiosa della dottrina cristiana. Confessor of Saint Aloysius Gonzaga until his death, and then worked for the boy's canonization. In 1590 he worked in France to defend the interests of the Church during a period of turmoil and conflict. Member of the commission for the 1592 revision of the Vulgate Bible. Rector of the Collegio Romano from 1592 to 1594. Provincial of the Jesuit province in Naples from 1594 to 1597. Theologian to Pope Clement VIII from 1597 to 1599. Examiner of bishops and consultor of the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Roman and Universal Inquisition in 1597; strongly considered with discipline among the bishops. Created Cardinal-priest on 3 March 1598 by Pope Clement VIII; he lived an austere life in Rome, giving most of his money to the poor. At one point he used the tapestries in his living quarters to clothe the poor, saying that "the walls won't catch cold."
Defended the Apostolic See against anti-clericals in Venice, and the political tenets of James I of England. Wrote exhaustive works against heresies of the day. Took a position fundamentally democratic - authority originates with God, is vested in the people, who entrust it to fit rulers, a concept which brought him trouble with the kings of both England and France. Spiritual father of Saint Aloysius Gonzaga. Helped Saint Francis de Sales obtain formal approval of the Visitation Order. Noted preacher. Archbishop of Capua on 18 March 1602. Part of the two conclaves of 1605. Involved in disputes between the Republic of Venice and the Vatican in 1606 and 1607 concerning clerical discipline and Vatican authority. Involved in the controversy between King James I and the Vatican in 1607 and 1609 concerning cntrol of the Church in England. Wrote Tractatus de potestate Summi Pontificis in rebus temporalibus adversus Gulielmum Barclaeum in opposition to Gallicanism. Opposed action against Galileo Galilei in 1615, and established a friendly correspondence with him, but was forced to deliver the order for the scientist to submit to the Church. Part of the conclave of 1621, and was considered for Pope. Theological advisor to Pope Paul V. Head of the Vatican library. Prefect of the Sacred Congregation of the Rites. Prefect of the Sacred Congregation of the Index. Proclaimed a Doctor of the Church on 17 September 1931. Born 4 October 1542 at Montepulciano, Tuscany, Italy as Roberto Francesco Romolo Died in the morning of 17 September 1621 at Rome, Italy of natural causes; buried in Rome; relics translated to the church of Saint Ignatius, Rome on 21 June 1923