On Purgatory by St. Robert Bellarmine

On Purgatory: The Members of the Church suffering
On Purgatory: The Members of the Church suffering

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In the De Controversiis, St. Robert Bellarmine defends the doctrines and teaching of the Church against all comers, starting from Scripture, the Church Fathers and also reason. His work was widely read and commented on by both Catholics and Protestants and quickly became one of the standard texts in Catholic theology for centuries.
In On Purgatory, Bellarmine defends what is one of the more difficult doctrines to understand in his characteristic style beginning with Scripture and the Fathers, stopping at every step of the way to answer the objections of all the major Protestants of his day, not only Luther and Calvin, but also those less known to us such as Brenz and Peter Martyr.
Dividing his work into two books, Bellarmine shows that there is such a place as Purgatory by copious exegesis on Old and New Testament passages, and the clear consensus of the Church Fathers who witness the fact that prayer was made for the dead in the early Church.
Then, in book 2, he examines questions about the specifics of Purgatory, what souls there suffer, where it is located, how the faithful can assist the souls of Purgatory, and other questions.
This treatise, translated into English for the first time, is the best and most in depth treatise on this subject available, and is just as relevant today as when it was first penned.

Sample Chapter

Book II, ch. 9, How long will Purgatory Endure?

NOW on the time, in which Purgatory will remain, there are two extreme errors. The first error is that of Origen, who extended the times of Purgatory beyond the day of the resurrection, so that he has in homily 14 in Luke: “I think that even after the resurrection from the dead we need the sacrament to wash and cleanse us, for no man can rise again with filth.” Nevertheless, this error has been explored, for St. Augustine (lib. 21 de civitate Dei, cap. 16) says: “We suppose that there will be no Purgatorial punishments except before that last and tremendous judgment.” And the reason is, because the Lord says that in the judgment there will be only two ranks of men, one of the blessed, the other of the damned (Matth. 25).
But someone will say: The soul alone did not sin, but once with the body, therefore it should be purged then with the body, hence, after the resurrection men will be purged. I respond: if that would conclude the argument, it would also prove that the soul cannot be separated to be punished in hell, nor enjoy the delights of heaven, which is against the Gospel, “I am tortured in this flame” (Luke 16:24), and “Today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).

Therefore, I say the soul is duly punished even by itself, because it is the subject and efficient cause of sin; for there are certain human acts which cannot be done except from the whole composite, nor received except in the whole composite, such as all those which are done by organic potencies, e.g. to speak, see, hear, etc., and such things, after the dissolution of the composite, are no longer found. And if indeed such were a sin, it would clearly conclude the argument. But it is not so, for sin is an act of free will, and therefore properly said to come into being by the will alone and found formally in the will alone. Consequently, after the dissolution of man, the whole sin is only found in the will, and by that fact, in the soul, but not in dead flesh; moreover, it ought to be punished or purged in that place where it is found.

Add also, that the flesh is punished in its mode; for as the separated soul is punished with the penalty of loss, because it lacks the vision of God, and the punishment of sense, because it is tortured in fire, so the flesh is punished by the fire of loss, because it lacks life and the punishment of sense, although improperly, because it rots little by little and is reduced to ash; nevertheless, the first answer is better, for even the bodies of the saints that do not need purgation suffer this.

The second error is of Luther, who on the contrary makes Purgatory too short. He would have it that anyone who dies in faith has the remainder of his sins purged by the sorrow of death, and so there is no further Purgatory than death itself. This error can be easily refuted. By the remaining sins, either the fomes are understood, or bad habits that were contracted, or the undergoing of temporal punishments and venial sins. These alone, and all others can remain in a man that has been justified, which pertain to sin and hence can be said to be the remainder of one’s sins. First, the fomes is certainly abolished in death, because then sensuality is extinguished, but we do not constitute Purgatory due to the fomes, otherwise even baptized infants that die would need to suffer the punishments of Purgatory, since Baptism does not wash away the fomes. But Augustine, in the cited passage of City of God, teaches precisely that children of this sort do not suffer any purgatorial punishments. Now in regard to bad habits, those which exist in the will are not necessarily extinguished by death, seeing that they are in the powers that are not bound to an organ. Nevertheless, on account of habits of this sort we constitute Purgatory since otherwise it would follow that adults who are baptized after they have contracted bad habits, and immediately die, or certainly are killed for Christ, could not be saved except by Purgatory because neither Baptism nor Martyrdom dissolves habits of this kind. We see the baptized still have these same wicked inclinations which they had before, and it is necessary for them to abolish habits of this sort little by little with contrary acts.

Therefore, it is believable that all these habits are abolished by the first contrary act of the separated soul, which it elicits immediately from the separation. For, even if this habit, contracted in one act, cannot be destroyed by many acts nevertheless, there it will be able to be because that act will be much more forceful, seeing that then the soul will be more powerful in regard to spiritual acts and it will not have the contrary fomites and resistance as it has here.

Thus, it remains to speak of suffering punishment and venial sin, which can properly be called the remainder of sin, which is the reason why Purgatory exists. Moreover, it is certain that sometimes these remnants are purged in death, and at other times it is certain they are not, whereas, at other times there is a doubt as to whether this happened and it is very probable that it was partly purged and partly not.

I will prove these individually. For the first, a violent death received for Christ, which is called martyrdom, without a doubt cleanses all remnants of this sort. Cyprian clearly says that all sins are cleansed in passion (lib. 4 epist. 2); that he is not speaking about mortal sins is obvious because in the same place he says that without charity martyrdom is of no benefit whatsoever. St. Paul taught this before Cyprian in 1 Cor. 13. Therefore, the Church never prays for martyrs, because, as St. Augustine says on the words of the Apostle: “It is an injury to pray for a martyr, to whose prayers we ought to be commended.”

I prove the second: Those who die against their will or without the use of reason, such as the insane, those who die in their sleep and those who die instantly cannot be purged by that death in any mode; for either death itself absolutely purges, or by reason of some voluntary concomitant act itself. Not the former because death is, according to what it is, natural, at least after the sin of our first parents. This is why it is common to both the good and the bad, nay more to men and beasts; but by natural things which necessarily must come about we do not merit or lose merit, nor can we dissolve debts contracted voluntarily, so if death purges, it happens by reason of a voluntary concomitant act. But we are speaking in this place about those men who die without any act of this sort. Besides, we often see the best men suffer a very hard death, and those that are not good suffer a very light one. But if in death the remnants of sin should be purged, then necessarily the contrary ought to happen.

I prove the third: There are many who bear death with equanimity, whose patience without a doubt helps to make satisfaction, but whether those sufferings are equivalent to the debts contracted from sin, nobody can know for certain.

Apart from these errors there was an opinion of Domingo de Soto that no one in Purgatory remains beyond ten years (4 Sent. dist. 19 quaest. 3, art. 2). His reasoning is that if here on earth we can be freed from all punishments in a short time by certain punishments, why not more quickly in Purgatory since those punishments are infinitely more serious punishments and more intense than the former? Besides, here punishments are extended because they cannot be very intense or they would destroy the subject; but after this life they can be as intense as possible, because the subject is incorruptible. Thus, it is believable that God purges those souls gasping for glory in the shortest time by the most intense punishments. But these reasons do not conclude the matter.

To the first it can be said that here is the time of mercy and there is the time of justice.
To the second I say, God can compensate extension with intension, but he refuses; otherwise it would follow that souls do not remain in Purgatory for one hour, because God can, by increasing the intensity, redirect the punishments of ten years to one hour.

Besides, his opinion is opposed to approved visions of the Saints. Bede writes that the punishments of Purgatory were shown to a certain man, and it was said to him that souls which abide in Purgatory are all going to be saved on the day of judgment, although some will be assisted with prayers and almsgiving of the living, and above all the sacrifice of the altar, so that they will be freed even before the day of judgment (lib. 5 hist. cap. 13). There, he clearly shows some men that already died will remain in Purgatory even to the day of judgment. We can advance many similar visions from Dennis the Carthusian and others.

The custom of the Church is also opposed to this opinion, which celebrates an anniversary Mass for the dead, even if it is certain they died a hundred or two-hundred years ago. Certainly the Church would not do that if she believed that souls are not punished beyond ten years. Consequently, the matter is still uncertain and cannot be defined without temerity.

Opera Omnia of St. Robert Bellarmine vol. 2: On the Church

De Controversiis Volume 2 On the Church
De Controversiis Volume 2 On the Church
Contains On Councils, On the Church Militant and On the Marks of the Church

The first volume on the Church is finally here! We have at last completed the first volume of Bellarmine’s treatise on the Church to accompany the one volume on the Roman Pontiff.
This volume contains Bellarmine’s treatise on Councils, on the Church Militant and on the Marks of the Church. These books constitute a marvelous treatise in Ecclesiology which lays down the principles made use of by all subsequent theologians. The first book is on the nature of Councils, which traces the history of Councils, who calls them, etc. The second book deals with the Authority of Councils, and treats that one essential question of whether a Council is above a Pope. In book three, Bellarmine takes up the question of who constitutes the Church Militant, whether the Church is visible, and whether evil members are still members? Lastly, he takes up the Marks of the Church, expanding the four marks of the Creed into 15 marks discernible in the Church throughout her history which prove the Catholic Church is true and the churches of the Protestants are false.
This tour de force is absolutely necessary for a proper understanding of Catholic ecclesiology. We have attached a sample chapter!

Sample Chapter:

Book 2 ch. 12: Whether the authority of a Council is greater than Scripture

WE spoke on the authority of Councils considered absolutely, now we must speak on the same by a comparison to other principles of faith, i.e. the written word of God (and for traditions the reasoning is the same), and the Pope. The heretics of this time everywhere cry out that we subject Scripture to Councils. Calvin, in the Institutes, book 4, cap. 9 §14, says: “To subject the oracle of God in this manner to the censure of men that it would be ratified because it pleases men is an unworthy blasphemy which is commemorated.” Similar things are discovered everywhere in the writings of the others. Moreover, this is not our blasphemy, but is their strawman. For Catholics do not subject the Sacred Scripture to Councils, but places it before them; nor is there any controversy on this point. But if some Catholics sometimes say scripture depends upon the Church, or a Council, they do not understand this in regard to its authority, or according to what it is, but in regard to the explanation and in regard to us.
Therefore, it must be observed that there is a manifold distinction between Sacred Scripture and the decrees of Councils, from which it is understood that Scripture is put before Councils. 1) Scripture is the true word of God, immediately revealed, and in a certain measure at God’s dictation according to what we read in 2 Peter 1:21 “Inspired by the Holy Spirit the holy men of God spoke,” and in 2 Timothy 3:16 “All Scripture is divinely inspired.” Nevertheless, it is not so understood to mean that all the sacred writers had new revelations and wrote things of which they were ignorant beforehand. It is certain that the Evangelists, Matthew and John, wrote those things which they saw while Mark and Luke wrote those things which they heard, as Luke himself declares at the beginning of his gospel: “Just as they handed it down to us who saw from the beginning.” (Luke 1:2).
Therefore, the Sacred Writers are said to have had immediate revelation, and wrote the words of God himself, because either some new and previously unknown things were revealed by God, according to that in Psalm 50 (51):8, “You have made known to me the uncertain and hidden matters of your wisdom”; God immediately inspired and moved the writers to write the things which they saw or heard and directed them so that they would not err in some matter. Just like an epistle may truly said to be of a prince and dictated by the prince, even if he that transcribed the dictation already knew what he was going to write, so it is said to be and really is the immediate word of God which was written by the Evangelists at God’s inspiration and direction, even if they wrote the things which they saw or heard. But Councils do not have, nor write immediate revelations, or the words of God, rather they only declare what indeed the word of God is, written or handed down, and how it ought to be understood; besides, they deduce conclusions from it by reasoning. Consequently, when Councils define what are the canonical and divine books, they do not cause them to be of infallible truth, but only declare that they are such.
So even the Council of Trent, in session 13, c. 1, when it defines that those words: “This is my body” must be understood properly, not figuratively, it did not publish but declared the word of God. And when the Council of Nicaea defined that Christ is homoousion (consubstantial) with the Father, it drew the conclusion from the Scriptures in which it is precisely contained that there is one God, and the Father is God, as well as the Son, from which it necessarily follows that the Father and the Son are of the same substance and divinity. Likewise, in the sixth Council, when it defines that Christ had two wills, divine and human, it drew the conclusion from Scripture in which it is contained that Christ is perfect God and perfect man.
The second distinction arises from this first, and is that the sacred writers ought not labor much in in producing these books; for it was enough if they would labor by writing or dictating if they were giving prophecies; or to the chief point by recalling to memory what they had seen or heard, and thought the words which they should write, if they were writing histories or epistles or something similar. But the Fathers in Councils ought to seek the matter itself, i.e. to investigate conclusions by disputation, reading and reflection. For that reason, we read in Acts 15 in the first Council that there was a great deal of questioning. Ruffinus witnesses about the Council of Nicaea in book 10, cap. 5, hist. Ecclesiasticae, in regards to Acts 15 the fathers of the Council say: “It has been seen by the Holy Spirit and us,” i.e. the Holy Spirit assists our industry and diligence. But the sacred writers only attribute the things which they write to God and this is why the prophets so often repeat: “Thus speaks the Lord.”
The third is that in the Scripture there is no error whether it is treated on faith or on morals, and whether some general thing is affirmed, even common to the whole Church, or some particular thing pertaining to one man. But it is both certain and of the faith that without the grace of the Holy Spirit no man is saved, and Peter, Paul, Stephan and certain others truly had the Holy Spirit and were saved, seeing that the same Scripture witnesses that both are most true, but Councils can err in particular judgments.
The fourth is that in Scripture not only teachings, but even each and every word pertains to faith. We believe no word in Scripture is in vain or not correctly placed, but in Councils the greater part of the acts does not pertain to faith. For disputations that are prefaced, or reasons which are added, or the things that are advanced to explain and illustrate matters are not de fide, rather only the bare decrees and not even all of these, but only those which are proposed as de fide. Sometimes Councils define something not as a decree but as probable, such as when the Council of Vienne decreed that it must be held as more probable that grace and the virtues are infused into infants at Baptism, as it is contained in Clem. uni. de Summa Trinitate et fide Catholica. But when a decree is proposed as de fide, it is easily discerned from the words of the Council because they usually say they explain the Catholic faith or they must be held as heretics who think the contrary; or what is most common, they say anathema and exclude anyone from the Church that thinks the contrary. But when they say none of these, the matter is not certain de fide.
Next, in the very decrees on faith, not the words but only the sense pertains to faith. It is not heretical to say that in canons of Councils some word is superfluous or not correctly placed, except perhaps the decree were formed from the word itself, such as when in the Council of Nicaea they decreed the word o`moou,sion must be received, and in Ephesus the word Qeoto,kon.
The fifth is, that Scripture does not need the approval of the Pope to be authentic, but only that its authority would be known; but Councils, even legitimate and general ones, are not ratified until they are confirmed by the Pope, as we showed in a previous question.
But certain men object. Gratian, in d. 19, can. In canonicis, affirms the decretal epistles of Popes ought to be numbered among the canonical Scriptures, and in d. 20, can. Decretales, says the canons of Councils are of the same authority with the decretal epistles, therefore even the canons of Councils are numbered among the canonical Scriptures; consequently the Scriptures are not placed before Councils. Besides, St. Gregory says that he venerates the first four Councils as the four books of the Gospels (lib. 1 epist. 24).
I respond twofold to Gratian.
Firstly, he was deceived from a corrupted codex which he held to be of St. Augustine, for he attributed that canon to Augustine (lib. 2 doct. Christiana, cap. 8); but the true and corrected codices of St. Augustine do not have what Gratian relates but differ by far. Augustine does not say that the epistles that the Apostolic See usually gives or receives are canonical Scripture, as Gratian read, but a judgment on holy writings that pertain to the Churches and chiefly to those which are Apostolic Sees or merit to receive epistles, such as are Rome, in which Peter sat and to which Paul wrote; Ephesus, in which John sat and to which the same Paul wrote, and certain others.
I say secondly, with this error posited, Gratian did not mean to say that decrees of the Popes are properly sacred and canonical Scriptures like the Gospels or the Psalms, but that they are holy writings so as to distinguish them from profane writings, and canonical so as to distinguish them from the sacred writings of the Fathers, which are not rules nor have the authority to oblige. Although the canons of Popes and Councils are distinguished and placed after the divine Scripture, nevertheless they may and must be called sacred writings as well as canonical, just as the seventh Council, in act. 3, calls decrees of Councils divinely inspired constitutions. Nay more, Innocent, cap Cum Marthae extra de celebratione Missarum, calls the teaching of St. Augustine a sacred writing: “He does a martyr an injury that prays for him,” serm. 17, from the words of the Apostle. Moreover, that Gratian felt the decrees of Councils must not be equated with the divine scriptures properly so called, is clear from 36 caussa, quaest. 2 can. Placuit, where he placed the opinion of Jerome, because it was fortified with the testimony of divine Scripture, ahead of a decree of a Council.
I respond to that of Gregory: it sounds like a similitude, not equating, as that of Matthew 5:48, “Be perfect just as your heavenly father is perfect.” Or if it would sound like equating, it will need to be said that Gregory does not compare the Councils with the Gospels in all things, but only in the same certitude whereby it is spoken of in the Scriptures as well as in the decrees of Councils. Since both are of infallible truth, they can be said to be equally certain; but just as Councils are not of a greater authority than the Scripture, it remains that we explain at least whether the authority of an ecumenical Council were greater than that of the Supreme Pontiff.

Preview: First ever translation of St. John Chrysostom’s homily on Galatians 2:11

[What follows is a preview of a few pages of the first translation ever made of Chrysostom’s sermon on Galatians 2:11, where St. Paul declares he “resisted Cephus [Peter] to the face.” The translation was made from Greek by the scholarly Johnathan Arrington, an excellent Classicist. We look forward to getting this into print! – Editor]


A note about the sort of English that you will read in this translation.

There is a movement afoot in the rarified air wherein the translators of classical works move and breathe.  We are encouraged by some to translate all Latin and Greek as if they were the colloquial speech of the latest Tweet, a Facebook post, or even an article in Reader’s Digest.  This is the twenty-first century, so we’re told.

I’m not convinced: I’m not talking about the century, of course; rather, about this mode of reasoning (there’s an undisclosed and barely apparent enthymeme in their sorites, if you prefer an Aristotelian charge).  There is a gradation in Latin and Greek style, and Saint John Chrysostom’s eponym (in one sense, a nick-name or a name given on account of one’s [de]merits) is derived from his literary prowess; so, we do him justice when we render his original with English that is at least somewhat befitting his name and even his chronographical and geographical placement: he flourished during what some call a Third Sophistic – in Antioch and Constantinople, no less! – a period and two places known to posterity for their many glorious orators and authors.

PG 51 Preface: Monitum ad Homiliam in illud “In faciem ei restiti”

An admonition in regard to the Homily “I resisted him to his face”

Hanc concionem post peractam lectionem epistolae ad Galatas Antiochiae habuit Chrysostomus. Veritus enim ne tantilla, quae hic apparet inter Petrum et Paulum Ecclesiae, ait ille, columnas, dissensio, piorum animos interturbaret, longa locum illum oratione explanare nititur. Multis statim explicat, quanta hinc incommoda sequantur, si vere et objurgandi animo, plurimis praesentibus, apostolorum coryphaeum Paulus sit adortus. Hinc duas circa hunc locum sententias aperit, statimque refutat: quarum prior est, Petrum de quo hic agitur, non apostolorum principem, sed alium esse cognominem: altera veram statuit esse reprehensionem, sed simulate factam. Deinde vero suam profert ille opinionem: nempe apostolos Petrum et Paulum ad hanc piam simulationem paratos meditatosque venisse; exque pacto et convento inter ambos inito, cum se a gentibus segregasse Petrum, ne in Judaeorum offensionem incurreret, tum Paulum ei in faciem restitisse, illo non reluctante, quia amborum ea mens erat, ut legis jugum gentibus non imponeretur. Caeterum Chrysostomi opinio, quae ab Origene manasse creditur, ab Hieronymo primum propugnata, ab Augustino refutata est, asserente veram nec simulatam fuisse Pauli reprehensionem, ita ut ejus argumentis cederet vel ipse Hieronymus. Non desunt tamen, qui priorem sententiam, quae Petrum ab apostolo alium asserit, nec qui posteriorem a Chrysostomo propugnatam hodieque defendant.

Chrysostom preached this sermon after a reading from the Letter to the Galatians. He feared lest the seemingly ever so slight disagreement between Peter and Paul – the Church’s pillars, Chrysostom would say – should disturb the devout souls; he makes efforts to explain this passage with a lengthy sermon. He straightway makes it abundantly evident, by means of what troubles would follow is Paul truly insulted the head of the Apostles in a spirit of reproach and with many present. Hence, he puts on display two interpretative approaches to the passage – which he quickly refutes – the first of which is that the Peter of whom we here speak was not the prince of the Apostles but an homonymous someone; secondly, that there was a true reprimand but that it was simulated. Yet then he offers his own opinion, to wit, that the Apostles Peter and Paul had come prepared with forethought for this holy simulation – and from a commonly agreed upon plan: once Peter had kept himself from the Gentiles, lest he should offend the Jews, then Paul would resist him to his face, and Peter would not fight back, because their common accord was that the onus of the Law should not be imposed upon the Gentiles. Besides this, Chrysostom’s opinion is believed to have come from Origen, and was first promoted by Jerome and then impugned by Augustine, the latter of whom said that Paul’s rebuke was true and not simulated, such that Jerome himself would have seemed to accede to Augustine’s argumentation. Still, there is no lack of those who – even today – defend that earlier hypothesis, which would understand all this of another Peter; there are also those who support the latter stance, Chrysostom’s own.



Τῇ προτέρᾳ συνάξει ἐν τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ τῇ καινῇ συναχθεὶς μετὰ τοῦ ἐπισκόπου, ταύτην ἐν τῇ παλαιᾷ εἶπεν εἰς τὴν περικοπὴν τοῦ Ἀποστόλου- Ὅτε δὲ ἦλθε Πέτρος εἰς Ἀντιόχειαν, κατὰ πρόσωπον αὐτῷ ἀντέστην- καὶ δείκνυσιν, ὅτι οὐκ ἀντίστασις ἦν, ἀλλ’ οἰκονομία τὰ γινόμενα.
After a prior liturgical con-celebration with the bishop in the new church, he [Chrysostom] gave this homily in the old church, on the excerpt from the Apostle [Paul, Galatians 2:11ff.] “But when Peter came to Antioch, I resisted him to his face”, and he shows that what transpired was not an opposition but an (arranged) dispensation.

Captatio benevolentiae

α – 1

Μίαν ὑμῶν ἀπελείφθην ἡμέραν, καὶ ὡς ἐνιαυτὸν ὁλόκληρον ὑμῶν χωρισθεὶς, οὕτως ἀσχάλλων καὶ ἀλύων διετέλουν. Καὶ ὅτι ἀληθῆ ταῦτα, ἴστε ἐξ ὧν καὶ ὑμεῖς ἐπάθετε.

Καθάπερ γὰρ παῖς ὑπομάζιος τῆς μητρικῆς θηλῆς ἀποσπασθεὶς, ὅπουπερ ἂν ἀπενεχθῇ, πυκνὰ περιστρέφεται, περιβλεπόμενος τὴν ἑαυτοῦ μητέρα· οὕτω δὴ κἀγὼ τῶν κόλπων τῶν μητρικῶν ἀπενεχθεὶς ποῤῥωτέρω, πυκνὰ περιεσκόπουν, πανταχοῦ τὴν ἁγίαν ὑμῶν ἐπιζητῶν σύνοδον.

Πλὴν ἀλλ’ εἶχον ἱκανὴν τούτων παραμυθίαν, τῷ πατρὶ φιλοστόργῳ πειθόμενος ταῦτα πάσχειν, καὶ ὁ τῆς ὑπακοῆς μισθὸς τὴν ἀκηδίαν τὴν ἐπὶ τῷ ξενισμῷ γινομένην ἀπεῖργε.

I was away from you all for one day and I was so distressed and distraught that it was as if I had been separated from you for an entire year. You, too, know that this is an accurate account, based on what befell you yourselves.

For, just like a babe who is being weaned from his mother’s breast, who is ever turning around – no matter where he is carried – in search of his mother; so, too, I myself had been carried far away from the maternal bosom: I looked about here and there, in earnest search of your holy company.

Albeit, I nevertheless had sufficient relief from all this, trusting as I did that I suffered such things out of obedience to a dearly affectionate father; and, that the recompense for obedience warded off the weariness attached to stranger-hardship[1] (hardship due to travel, Lampe).


Τοῦτο γὰρ ἐμοὶ καὶ διαδήματος παντὸς λαμπρότερον, καὶ στεφάνου σεμνότερον, τὸ πανταχοῦ μετὰ τοῦ γεγεννηκότος περιάγεσθαι· τοῦτο ἐμοὶ καὶ κόσμος, καὶ ἀσφάλεια·κόσμος μὲν, ὅτι οὕτως αὐτὸν ἐχειρωσάμην, καὶ πρὸς τὸν ἔρωτα ἐπεσπασάμην τὸν ἐμὸν, ὡς μηδαμοῦ μηδέποτε ἀνέχεσθαι χωρὶς τοῦ παιδὸς φαίνεσθαι· ἀσφάλεια δὲ, ὅτι παρὼν καὶ ἀγωνιζόμενον βλέπων, πάντως καὶ τὴν παρὰ τῶν εὐχῶν συμμαχίαν ἡμῖν παρέξει.

Καὶ καθάπερ πλοῖον κυβερνητῶν χεῖρες, καὶ οἴακες, καὶ ζεφύρου πνοαὶ μετὰ ἀσφαλείας εἰς λιμένα παραπέμπουσιν·οὕτω δὴ καὶ ἡ εὔνοια τούτου, καὶ ἡ ἀγάπη, καὶ ἡ τῶν εὐχῶν βοήθεια, καὶ ζεφύρου καὶ κυβερνήτου κρεῖττον καὶ τῶν οἰάκων κατευθύνει τὸν λόγον ἡμῶν.

This, you see, is to me even more resplendent than any diadem, and more august than any crown: to travel around everywhere with the one who begot you; that is my adornment and my security. Adornment, I’ll explain: because I have so mastered him and caused him to love me, such that he never wishes to be seen without his child, anywhere; and then there’s security: because whenever he is present and sees [me] struggling in a contention, he especially offers to us his auxiliary forces from his prayers.

And just as the hands of the captain, the handle of the rudder, and the favorable westerly winds lead the ship to port with security; so, too, do his benevolence and charity, his aid by prayer – better than any westerly winds, helms, helmsman – guide and prosper our speech.

Ἐμὲ δὲ πρὸς τούτοις κἀκεῖνο παρεμυθεῖτο, τὸ λαμπρᾶς ὑμᾶς ἀπολαῦσαι τότε τραπέζης, καὶ φιλότιμον καὶ πολυτελῆ τὸν ἑστιάτορα σχεῖν.

Ἔγνωμεν δὲ τοῦτο οὐκ ἐξ ἀκοῆς μόνον, ἀλλὰ καὶ ἐξ αὐτῆς τῆς πείρας.

Καὶ γὰρ ἦσαν οἱ διακομίζοντες ἡμῖν τὰ εἰρημένα, καὶ ἀπὸ τῶν λειψάνων ὁλόκληρον τὴν εὐωχίαν ἐστοχασάμεθα.

Ἐπῄνεσα μὲν οὖν τὸν ἑστιάσαντα, καὶ ἐθαύμασα τῆς πολυτελείας καὶ τοῦ πλούτου·

ἐμακά ρισα δὲ καὶ ὑμᾶς τῆς εὐνοίας, καὶ τῆς ἀκριβείας, ὅτι μετὰ τοσαύτης φυλακῆς τὰ εἰρημένα κατέχετε, ὡς καὶ ἑτέρῳ διακομίσαι.

∆ιὰ τοῦτο καὶ ἡμεῖς πρὸς τὴν ὑμετέραν ἀγάπην προθύμως διαλεγόμεθα.

Ὁ γὰρ καταβάλλων ἐνταῦθα τὰ σπέρματα, οὐ ῥίπτει αὐτὰ παρὰ τὴν ὁδὸν, οὐδὲ εἰς τὰς ἀκάνθας ἐκχεῖ, οὐδὲ ἐπὶ τὴν πέτραν σπείρει·

οὕτω λιπαρὰ καὶ βαθύγειος ὑμῶν ἐστιν ἡ ἄρουρα, καὶ πάντα εἰς τοὺς οἰκείους δεχομένη κόλπους, πολυπλασιάζει τὰ σπέρματα.

Furthermore, it consoled me that you were then able to delight in such a sumptuous table and to enjoy such a munificent and honorable liturgical host.

And we know this not only from what we have heard, but also from experience itself: for, there were those who carried the words to us, and from those remnants we made a conjecture about the entire feast.

Therefore, I have certainly praised your entertainer, and I marveled at his magnificence and treasure; but I also called you blessed for your goodwill and diligence because with such care you retain what was said so as to report this to someone else, too.

On this account we too gladly converse in the presence of your charity.[2]

For, whoever throws his seeds here does not cast them beside the road, and neither does he pour them out among the thorns, nor is he seeding the rocks (cf. Lk. 8, Mk. 4, Mt. 13):  your tilled ground is so rich and productive, and all the seedlings that it welcomes into its bosom are multiplied many-fold!

Ἀλλ’ εἴπερ ποτὲ προθυμίαν μοι παρέσχετε καὶ πολλὴν σπουδὴν ἐπὶ τὴν ἀκρόασιν, ὥσπερ οὖν ἀεὶ παρεσχήκατε, ταύτην αἰτῶ καὶ τήμερον ἐμοὶ δοῦναι τὴν χάριν. Οὐδὲ μὲν ὑπὲρ τῶν τυχόντων ἡμῖν ἐστιν ὁ λόγος, ἀλλ’ ὑπὲρ μεγάλων πραγμάτων.

∆ιόπερ ὀφθαλμῶν δέομαι πανταχόθεν ὀξὺ βλεπόντων, διανοίας διεγηγερμένης, διανεστηκότος φρονήματος, συντεταμένων λογισμῶν, ψυχῆς ἀγρύπνου καὶ ἐγρηγορυίας. Καὶ γὰρ ἠκούσατε τοῦ ἀναγνώσματος πάντες τοῦ ἀποστολικοῦ καὶ εἴ τις ὀξέως προσέσχε τοῖς ἀναγνωσθεῖσιν, οἶδεν ὅτι μεγάλοι ἡμῖν ἀγῶνες καὶ ἱδρῶτες πρόκεινται τήμερον.

Ὅτε γὰρ ἦλθε Πέ τρος, φησὶν, εἰς Ἀντιόχειαν, κατὰ πρόσωπον αὐτῷ ἀντέστην.

Nevertheless, if you have ever shown me your studious alacrity of spirit to listen – as indeed you have shown perpetually – I ask that you grant me that same grace today as well.  And our discussion is not about some trifles, rather, about some weighty matters.

For this very reason, I have need of sharp eyes from all corners, an attentive intelligence, awakened senses, vigorous rational capacities, and roused and watchful souls.  Of course you too have listened to the reading from the Apostle, and if one paid close attention to what was read, he knows that a great contest confronts us and that what is prescribed for today will elicit the sweat of our brow.[3] The reading says: “For when Peter came to Antioch, I resisted him to his face”.


β – 2

Ἆρα οὖν οὐ θορυβεῖ ἕκαστον τῶν ἀκουόντων τοῦτο, ὅτι Παῦλος ἀντέστη τῷ Πέτρῳ, ὅτι οἱ στῦλοι τῆς Ἐκκλησίας συγκρούονται καὶ ἀλλήλοις προσπίπτουσι; Στῦλοι γὰρ ὄντως εἰσὶν οὗτοι, τὴν ὀροφὴν τῆς πίστεως ἀνέχοντες καὶ διαβαστάζοντες, καὶ στῦλοι, καὶ πρόβολοι, καὶ ὀφθαλμοὶ τοῦ σώματος τῆς Ἐκκλησίας, καὶ πηγαὶ τῶν ἀγαθῶν, καὶ θησαυροὶ, καὶ λιμένες, καὶ πᾶν ὅπερ ἂν εἴποι τις, οὐδέπω τῆς ἀξίας αὐτῶν ἐφίξεται· ἀλλ’ ὅσῳπερ ἂν ᾖ μεγάλα αὐτῶν τὰ ἐγκώμια, τοσούτῳ πλείων ἡμῖν ὁ ἀγών. ∆ιανάστητε τοίνυν· ὑπὲρ πατέρων γὰρ ἡμῖν ἐστιν ὁ λόγος, ὥστε ἀποκρούσασθαι τὰ κατ’ ἐκείνων φερόμενα ἐγκλήματα παρὰ τῶν ἔξωθεν, καὶ τῶν τῆς πίστεως ἀλλοτρίων.
Now, does it not trouble everyone who hears this, to wit, that Paul withstood Peter? that the Church’s columns collided and fell in with one other? That’s right, these two are truly columns which sustain and contain the summit of faith: columns, bulwarks, and the eyes of the Church’s body; of good things they are, too, founts, receptacles, and havens, and anything else one might say, he still won’t reach their merits; however, to the extent that their praises are lofty, so much greater then will our struggle be. Rouse your attention accordingly! You see, our reckoning is for the fathers’ sake, so that accusations brought against them by outsiders and those who are foreign to the faith might be refuted.[4]


Ὅτε δὲ ἦλθε Πέτρος εἰς Ἀντιόχειαν, κατὰ πρόσωπον αὐτῷ ἀντέστην, ὅτι κατεγνωσμένος ἦν. Εἶτα καὶ ἡ αἰτία τῆς καταγνώσεως· Πρὸ τοῦ γὰρ ἐλθεῖν τινας ἀπὸ Ἰακώβου, μετὰ τῶν ἐθνῶν συνήσθιεν· ὅτε δὲ ἦλθον, ὑπέστελλε καὶ ἀφώριζεν ἑαυτὸν, φοβούμενος τοὺς ἐκ περιτομῆς. Καὶ συνανεκρίθησαν αὐτῷ καὶ οἱ λοιποὶ Ἰουδαῖοι·

ὥστε καὶ Βαρνάβας συναπήχθη αὐτῶν τῇ ὑποκρίσει.

Ἀλλ’ ὅτε εἶδον, ὅτι οὐκ ὀρθοποδοῦσι πρὸς τὴν ἀλήθειαν τοῦ Εὐαγγελίου, εἶπον τῷ Πέτρῳ ἔμπροσθεν πάντων.

Καὶ ἄνω λέγει, ὅτι Κατὰ πρόσωπον·

καὶ ἐνταῦθα, Ἔμπροσθεν πάντων.

Παρατηρεῖτε τοῦτο, τὸ εἰπεῖν, Ἔμπροσθεν πάντων.

But when Peter came to Antioch, I withstood him openly to his face, because he was charged*.  And then what occasioned the accusation: because, before some people had come from James, he was eating with the gentiles; but when they had come, he started to withdraw and separate himself, fearing the circumcision-clan*. And the rest of the Jews even consented to the feigned show*,

so that Barnabas too was lead away by their outward show.

But when I saw that they were not proceeding in an upright way, in accord with Gospel’s truth, I said to Peter in the presence of everyone.

So, above he says, “openly, to his face”, and then, “in front of everyone”. Pay close attention to this statement: “in front of everyone”.


Εἰ σὺ, Ἰουδαῖος ὑπάρχων[5], ἐθνικῶς ζῇς, καὶ οὐχὶ Ἰουδαϊκῶς, τί καὶ τὰ ἔθνη ἀναγκάζεις ἰουδαΐζειν;
“If you – given that you are a Jew – live after the manner of the Gentiles – and not that of the Jews – why do you force the Gentiles too to live like Jews?”


Τάχα ἐπῃνέσατε τὸν Παῦλον τῆς παῤῥησίας, ὅτι οὐκ ᾐδέσθη τὸ ἀξίωμα τοῦ προσώπου, διὰ τὴν ἀλήθειαν τοῦ Εὐαγγελίου οὐκ ἠρυθρίασε τοὺς παρόντας. Ἀλλ’ εἰ καὶ Παύλου ἐγκώμιον τοῦτο, ἡμετέρα δὲ αἰσχύνη γίνεται. Τί γὰρ, εἰ Παῦλος καλῶς ἐποίησεν, ἀλλ’ ὁ Πέτρος κακῶς, εἴγε οὐκ ὠρθοπόδει; Τί οὖν ἐμοὶ τὸ ὄφελος, ὅταν τῆς ξυνωρίδος θάτερος ἵππος χωλεύῃ; Οὐ γὰρ πρὸς Παῦλόν μοι νῦν ὁ λόγος, ἀλλὰ πρὸς τοὺς ἔξωθεν. ∆ιὰ τοῦτο καὶ παρακαλῶ προσέχειν. Καὶ γὰρ αὔξω τὴν κατηγορίαν, καὶ μείζονα ποιῶ, ἵνα ἐπιτείνω ὑμῶν τὴν σπουδήν. Ὁ γὰρ ἀγωνιῶν νήφει, καὶ ὁ δεδοικὼς ὑπὲρ πατρὸς, προσέχει· ὁ ἀκούων τῆς κατηγορίας, ἐπιθυμεῖ δέξασθαι τὴν ἀπολογίαν.
Perhaps you sang Paul’s praises for his frankness*, since he was not timid when faced with the person’s rank and reputation, that for the sake of Gospel Truth, he did not blush before those present. If this is Paul’s honor, however, then it’s our dishonor. What does it serve if Paul did well but Peter acted badly – if he was not walking aright? So, how does it benefit me when either one of a chariot’s horse is lame? My inquisition is not aimed at Paul, but at those outside* [the Church]. And for that reason, I am begging you to pay close attention. I shall even augment the accusation and make it broader, to stretch your studiosity to its maximum, since the one who is anxious is awake, and the one who is alarmed for his father’s sake is attentive. Whoever hears this accusation longs to receive the defense.
Ἂν τοίνυν ἄρξωμαι αὔξειν τὴν κατηγορίαν, μὴ ἀπὸ γνώμης τῆς ἐμῆς νομίσητε εἶναι τὰ λεγόμενα. Βαθύνω γὰρ ὑμῶν τῷ λόγῳ τὴν διάνοιαν, διασκάπτω τὸν νοῦν, ἵνα ἐν τῷ βάθει τὰ νοήματα καταθέμενος, ἄσυλον αὐτῶν ἐργάσωμαι τὴν φυλακήν. Ἀλλὰ καὶ τῆς πόλεως ὑμῶν ἐγκώμιον τὰ ῥηθησόμενα. Αὕτη γὰρ τὸν ἀγῶνα ἐδέξατο, αὕτη τὴν μάχην, μᾶλλον δὲ οὐ τὴν μάχην, ἀλλὰ τὴν δοκοῦσαν μὲν εἶναι μάχην, πάσης δὲ εἰρήνης γενομένην χρησιμωτέραν. Οὐ γὰρ οὕτως ἡμῶν τὰ μέλη πρὸς ἄλληλα συνέσφιγκται ταῖς τῶν νεύρων περιβολαῖς, ὡς οἱ ἀπόστολοι πρὸς ἀλλήλους ἦσαν συνδεδεμένοι τοῖς τῆς ἀγάπης δεσμοῖς.
Therefore, if I actually begin to raise the charges, do not begin thinking that these are my own thoughts on the matter!  Actually, I am raising your thoughts with my words, I am deepening your sentiments, so that once your understanding is deeply planted I may render it a guarded sanctuary. But what I am about to say is an encomium of your city, for the city herself received this action[6], she saw the combat – which, rather, was not combat, but what seemed to be a battle – a battle that became much more useful than any peace, because not even the members of our bodies are so intimately clothed with nerves as were the Apostles so strictly bound together by the bands of mutual charity.


[1] Bishop as Father of the Diocese/Eparchy: compare another Antiochian’s thoughts and words on the matter, viz., St. Ignatius of Antioch in Magn. 6:1; Smyrn. 8:2; Trall. 2:1-2; Eph. 3:2; Rom.

[2] Agape, or “charity”, is a word rich in meaning and with many connotations in regard to early Christian life and practice; it brings to mind the Eucharistic liturgy for love of which the congregants came together, from the time of the Apostles (cf. the few chapters of Acts; Jude 1:12; 1 Cor. 11), through St. Ignatius of Antioch (To the Smyrn. 8:2), Clement of Alexandria (Paedag. 2:1) and Origen (passim).

[3] Clearly, this is not primarily in regard to the legal sense of this idiom; however, there is, perhaps, a hint of the language characteristic of the Adamic curse.

[4] See in the following paragraph the clarification regarding the “aim” of this discourse.

[5] Τί οὖν Στωϊκὸν λέγεις σεαυτόν, τί ἐξαπατᾷς τοὺς πολλούς, τί ὑποκρίνῃ, [ Ἰουδαῖος ὤν, Ἕλληνας ] Ἰουδαῖον ὢν Ἕλλην; οὐχ ὁρᾷς, πῶς ἕκαστος λέγεται Ἰουδαῖος, πῶς Σύρος, πῶς Αἰγύπτιος; καὶ ὅταν τινὰ ἐπαμφοτερίζοντα ἴδωμεν, εἰώθαμεν λέγειν “οὐκ ἔστιν Ἰουδαῖος, ἀλλ’ὑποκρίνεται”.  Epicteti Ab Arriano Dissertationes ii, 9.19,20 ]

[6] In the sense of legal or military action.

Defense of the Catholic Priesthood against Martin Luther – St. John Fisher

Defence of the Priesthood - Fisher
Defence of the Priesthood - Fisher

To the extent that St. John Fisher is remembered at all, he is remembered as the one Bishop that refused to pinch incense to Henry VIII. Yet, he was also a holy Bishop and an expert Theologian. Those familiar with the Mediatrix Press reprint of the Life of St. John Fisher by E.E. Reynolds, will know that St. John Fisher was a model for all Bishops. Yet his theological writings, which are mostly in Latin, had not been translated at all until the 1930’s. Fr. Hallet translated the shortest but no less important of St. John Fisher’s works, his defense of the priesthood against Martin Luther.

In these pages we see that it is Fisher, not Luther, who is the true witness to the gospel, defending the Catholic priesthood by the Scriptures, the Fathers and reason, while quoting Luther directly in his refutation.

While responding to Luther, Fisher lays out several Axioms and proves them one by one in

order so that as the pages turn, it is abundantly clear that Fisher is following the Scripture completely, while Luther’s position is increasingly indefensible. It is no wonder that Fisher was the only opponent of Luther that that the latter did not and could not answer.

Given that it is the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, what better work could be published, to help dispel some of the confusion engendered by those who wish to celebrate Luther in ignorance of what the great heresiarch had actually taught. Anyone seeing this will immediately see that it is Fisher who is the witness to the Gospel.

On Councils: Their Nature and Authority – Bellarmine

On Councils
On Councils

In On Councils: Their Nature and Authority, St. Robert Bellarmine answers the attack of the early Protestant Reformers on by treating on all matters pertaining to Councils. Beginning with definitions and terms, Bellarmine explores in summary all the Councils approved in his day, as well as those only partially approved and those not approved at all. Then he examines their purpose and foundations in Scripture, the Fathers, and history. In the second book, Bellarmine examines the authority of Councils according to the same standard, proving especially that the Pope is above Councils and is the one to summon and confirm them. To prove his case he musters his considerable scholarship and answers not only the arguments of Luther and Calvin, but of each early Protestant to show that approved Councils do not contradict each other, and the Church does not put Councils above the Word of God.

Sample chapter:

On the utility or even the necessity of celebrating Councils

Therefore, with all of this noted, we must explain in what things legitimate Councils consist, and these can be reduced to four: 1) the end; 2) efficiency; 3) matter and; 4) the form of Councils. Now let us begin with the end, which is the first of these reasons. It will be the first reason that must be briefly explained on account of which Councils are usually celebrated; then from those it will be determined whether a gathering of Councils is necessary or merely useful. Moreover, the particular reasons on account of which Councils are celebrated are usually numbered as six.
a) The first reason is a new heresy, i.e. something that had never been judged before, which is the very reason the first seven Councils were convened. The Church always so dealt with the danger of new heresies that she did not think it could be resisted otherwise than if all or certainly a great many leaders of the Churches, once their strength was joined as if it were made into a column of soldiers, would rush upon the enemies of the faith.
b) The second reason is schism among Roman Pontiffs; for a Council in the time of Pope Cornelius was celebrated for this very reason. Likewise, another in the time of Pope Damasus and again in the times of Symmachus, Innocent II and Alexander III, as well as Pisa and Constance in the times of Gregory XII and Benedict XIII, for there is no more powerful remedy than a Council as has so often been proved.
c) The third is resistance to a common enemy of the whole Church; in this manner Councils were convened by Urban II, Calixtus II, Eugene III, and other Popes, for war against the Saracens. Likewise, to depose an emperor, Gregory III celebrated Councils against Leo III the Iconoclast, as did Gregory VII against Henry IV, and Innocent IV against Frederick II.
d) The fourth reason is suspicion of heresy in the Roman Pontiff, if perhaps it might happen, or if he were an incorrigible tyrant; for then a general Council ought to be gathered either to depose the Pope if he should be found to be a heretic, or certainly to admonish him if he seemed incorrigible in morals. As it is related in the 8th Council, act. ult. can. 21, general Councils ought to impose judgment on controversies arising in regard to the Roman Pontiff—albeit not rashly. For this reason we read that the Council of Sinvessano in the case of St. Marcellinus, as well as Roman Councils in the cases of Pope Damasus, Sixtus III, and Symmachus, as well as Leo III and IV, none of whom were condemned by a Council; Marcellinus enjoined penance upon himself in the presence of the Council, and the rest purged themselves (See Platina and the volumes of Councils).
e) The fifth reason is doubt about the election of a Roman Pontiff. For if the cardinals could not or would not create a Pope, or certainly if they all died at the same time, or a true doubt should arise for another reason to whom an election of this sort would pertain, would look to a general Council to discern in regard to the election of a future Pope, although it does not seem to be realistic to expect this would ever happen.
f) The sixth reason is the general reformation of abuses and vices which crept into the Church; for even if the Pope alone can prescribe laws for the whole Church, nevertheless, it is by far more agreeable for matters to be done with the approval of a general Council when the Pope prescribes laws of this sort. Hence, we see nearly all general Councils published canons on reformation (See Juan Torquemada, lib. 3, cap. 9 &10).

The Public Life of Our Lord Jesus Christ (vol. 2)

The Public Life of Our Lord Jesus Christ vol. 2
An Inerpretation
Rev. Alban Goodier, S.J.


Public Life of Our Lord Jesus Christ
Vols. 1 and 2 Set Discount

$61.00 $50.00

By popular demand, and thanks to a generous benefactor, Mediatrix Press is pleased to nearly have ready the second volume of The Public Life of Our Lord Jesus Christ

The second volume continues where the first left off in Our Lord’s life and continues the same original commentary and discussion all the way to passion week. The wonderful thing of Bishop Goodier’s narrative is that it does not make use of secondary sources or copious quotes, rather he simply quotes the Scriptures and organizes the teaching of the Gospels into the sequential occurrence of events. If you want to know more about our Lord and understand the places he is going to, what he is doing and why, this is the perfect work. The new edition includes wonderful depictions of events from Renaissance art. We also have it available in hardcover:

The Public Life of Our Lord Jesus Christ (Hardcover)
Vol. 2
Bishop Alban Goodier, S.J.


The Public Life of Our Lord Jesus Christ
Vols 1 & 2

$100 $80.00

The Autobiography of St. Robert Bellarmine!

The Autobiography of St. Robert Bellarmine:
Along with A Guide to Composing Sermons
Sermons on the Annunciation
Translated by Ryan Grant
With a Foreword by Fr. Philip Wolfe, FSSP


The Autobiography of St. Robert Bellarmine
Along with: A Guide to Composing Sermons, Sermons on the Annunciation
by St. Robert Bellarmine, S.J.
Translated by Ryan Grant
Foreword by Fr. Philip Wolfe, FSSP

Kindle $7.50

We are proud to present St. Robert Bellarmine’s autobiography for the first time in English.
Bellarmine never set out to compose any writings, but always did so out of obedience. He wrote his autobiography for 2 of his brother Jesuits out of courtesy for their request to have an account of his life. Though he never intended it for any eyes but theirs, it was discovered and published in the 18th century, and became a great success. It is a brief and simple account of the life and travails of a great soul that loved Jesus Christ above all things.
It has value both as the only account of his life currently in English and to researchers who do not have command of Latin to read the original. We have added several footnotes and appendixes to help fill in information that everyone in Bellarmine’s time knew, and as such he felt no need to elaborate on, but today is not so well known. Bellarmine was in the thick of very serious historical events, such as the Sixth War of Religion in France, or his stormy relationship with the imperious Pope Sixtus V.
Nevertheless, to compensate for the shortness we have added another treat, St. Robert Bellarmine’s Guide to Composing Sermons and evidence of this in action, his Sermons on the Annunciation given in Italy. Neither of these have been translated before, and the sermons have scarcely ever been seen in Latin except by a few researchers.
These sermons explore the depths of the mysteries contained in the Annunciation made by the Archangel Gabriel to the Blessed Virgin, which were preached in Italy while he was a Cardinal in Rome. These explore subjects as diverse as Greek and Hebrew etymology, Angelology, Mariology and the fulfillment of the Old Covenant in Christ. We have also added pictures of the places and people St. Robert mentions when relating his life!
During another chaotic time in the Church, St Philip Neri used to tell his directees that he didn’t care what they read, as long as the author’s name began with the letters ST. That advice is just as helpful today as it was then, and with his Bellarmine Project, Ryan Grant is making the writings of one such author, the great Doctor of the Church St Robert Bellarmine, available to the English speaking public. -Fr. Philip Wolfe, from the Foreword
WHILE N. [St. Robert refers to himself with the letter “N”] was still a boy, I think of five or six years, he used to speak publicly, and, on a footstool turned upside down, clothed with a string, he began to speak on the Lord’s passion. He had no subtle and lofty genius, but was accommodated to all things that he should be equally adept to take on all disciplines. In youth, he began to love poetry, and consumed a great part of the night in reading Vergil, with whom he has such familiarity that he used no word in his poems that was not Vergilian.
The first poem he wrote was on virginity, and the capital letters rendered it, Virginitas. When he was only a youth of 16, he wrote an eclogue on the death of Cardinal De Nobili, which was recited publicly. He wrote at the same time many poems in Latin and in Italian, and especially books which he did not bring to completion because they were obstacles which were strewn before him to prevent him from entering the Society of Jesus. He not only left these books, written in Vergilian style, unfinished but he even burned them because he was ashamed to have written on such matters.
Before he left Mondovì, or Mons Regalis, a humorous incident happened to him. He was a companion of Fr. Rector to visit the Dominicans. The Prior of the Dominicans invited the Rector to drink, and when he agreed, the Prior said about N., whom he did not know: “Well, your companion, this little brother here, will be glad of a drink.
The next day, that Prior came to the college and found N. carrying out the duty of the porter at the gate, and asked him to call the preacher. N. responded that the preacher could not come, but he would faithfully relate what message his Paternity would entrust. “No,” said the Prior, “I cannot tell you what I want, but take me to the preacher, or call him to me.” “I already said,” N. replied, “The preacher will not come,” and when the Prior insisted, N. was compelled to say, “I am whom you seek, and I cannot come, because I am here.” Then the prior blushed to remember the impertinent joke of the previous day, and humbly begged forgiveness, and asked if N. would preach on Christmas, when he would publish a Papal Bull containing indulgences for almsgiving, made for the support of the general chapter of the Dominicans that was going to be held, which N. promised he would do, and did.

On Divine Tradition – Cardinal Franzelin

de_divina_traditione_cover_frontOn Divine Tradition
John Baptist Cardinal Franzelin, S.J.
Translated by Ryan Grant
With an Introduction by Fr. Chad Ripperger, PhD

The Paperback can be purchased on Amazon for $29.99.

Note: The hardcover takes 4-8 days to produce, and 5-6 to ship.

In a joint project with Sensus Traditionis Press, we are pleased to offer in Hardcover Cardinal Franzelin’s classic treatise, On Divine Tradition.

On Divine Tradition is one of the most important theological texts dealing with the notion of Tradition in the Church. Unlike other authors who wrote very well on the subject but tailored it to the issues of their day, such as Melchior Cano and St. Robert Bellarmine, Cardinal Franzelin wrote a treatise considering tradition in itself, and then applied the fruit of this discussion to refute the Protestant notion that Tradition is opposed to Scripture.

Thus, in 26 Theses, Franzelin explains for us the notion of Tradition, where we seen tradition in history; how Scripture is also a witness to it; that Christ founded a living magisterium of witnesses to guide His Church; what is infallibility and how do we see it exercised; what are the monuments; what is the authority of the Fathers of the Church as well as the Theologians? What do we make of St. Vincent of Lérin’s definition, always, everywhere and by all?

Questions such as these, are treated in depth in a serious theological study considered to be classical in theological studies, which set the discussion for every other writer on the topic, even after Vatican II. Hitherto locked away in Latin, Ryan Grant (Director of the Bellarmine Translation Project) has rendered them into a good, readable English while preserving the scholastic and Thomistic language of the original, having given a great contribution to Theology which for too long has been impoverished on account of being cut off from its Latin patrimony.

NB: The text is a heavily Thomistic text, and though great pains were taken to make it readable, still, it is a work of systematic theology and will not read like a popular theology book. Still, there are many great and important insights for those who are not particularly trained in theology, but there will be sections that are much more difficult. While all this adds to the glory of the work, we felt it necessary to warn the general reader.


Christian Doctrine: The Timeless Catechism of St. Robert Bellarmine – Now available!

Christian Doctrine:
The Timeless Catechism of St. Robert Bellarmine

Translated from the Latin edition and revised according to the original Italian by
Ryan Grant
With a foreword by His Excellency
Bishop Athanasius Schneider

$20.00 (+shipping)


Doctrina Christiana: The Timeless Catechism of St. Robert Bellarmine
Translated by Ryan Grant
With a new Introduction by Bishop Athanasius Schneider

Kindle $9.00 (Purchase on Amazon)

Doctrina Christiana: The Timeless Catechism of St. Robert Bellarmine
St. Robert Bellarmine
Translated by Ryan Grant
With a foreword by his excellency Bishop Athanasius Schneider

ISBN: 978-1-365-42981-1

This catechism can be considered as a valid and effective catechetical tool for the work of the evangelization, a work which has to be realized with a new missionary zeal towards those who don’t know the Catholic faith and as well towards those who know it defectively and insufficiently.

May those who will read this catechism and those who will use it in the noble and meritorious work of teaching Christian doctrine, may be equipped with the sure and sacred doctrine of the Catholic faith, in order to stand, having their loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;  and their feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;  above all, they shall take the shield of faith, wherewith they shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked (cf. Eph 6: 14-16). In this way they will be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks them the reason of their hope, with meekness and fear (cf. 1 Peter 3: 15-16).
-Bishop Athanasius Schneider
From the Foreword

For the first time, St. Robert Bellarmine’s long Catechism, written in the form of a dialogue, has been made available in the English Language.

This Catechism was composed by St. Robert Bellarmine in 1598 and received Papal approbation from several Popes, most notably Pope Clement VIII and one of the greatest theologians to ever sit on the throne of St. Peter, Pope Benedict XIV. It was translated into Latin for use throughout the Church and has run through a number of editions throughout the centuries. Being written as a dialogue, it goes beyond the rote memorization of other catechisms (including that of Baltimore) by giving a deep explanation of the teachings of the faith with comparisons and parables.

What is wholesome about this Catechism is not only the soundness of its doctrine, but the warmth that a great theologian that was accustomed to dealing with complicated matters of theology descends to lovingly explain the basic truths of faith in a manner that average laity can easily understand. It is not for nothing that St. Robert was made the Patron of all Catechists! Order today!

A preview:


Student. Now that we have covered that, I am eager to know how the Mass is a compendium of the whole life of Christ; is it because I am so moved to devotion and attention when it happens that I am present there?

Teacher. I will say it briefly. The Introit of the Mass signifies the desire which the Holy Fathers had for the coming of Christ. The Kyrie eleison signifies the words of these Patriarchs and Prophets who sought from God the desired coming of the Messiah at such a time. The Gloria in excelsis means the Lord’s Birth. The subsequent Oratio or Collect signifies His presentation and offering in the Temple. The Epistle, customarily said at the left side of the altar (right to us) signifies the preaching of St. John the Baptist, inviting men to Christ. The Gradual, or response to the Epistle, signifies the life arising from the preaching of St. John. The Gospel, customarily read at the right side of the altar (our left), signifies the preaching of Our Lord whereby we move from the left to the right, i.e. from temporal things to eternal ones, and from sin to grace, where the lights are carried and the incense is enkindled and the Holy Gospel illumines the whole world, and it was filled with the sweet odor of Divine glory. The Creed signifies the conversion of the Holy Apostles and of the other disciples of Christ. The Secret, which immediately follows the Creed, signifies the secret plots of the Jews against Christ. The Preface, sung in a high voice, customarily ends with the Hosanna in excelsis, and it signifies the solemn entry of Christ into Jerusalem which He made on Palm Sunday. The Canon which comes after the Preface, represents the Passion of our Lord. The Elevation of the host teaches that Christ was lifted up on the Cross. The Pater noster, the prayer of Christ hanging on the cross. The fraction of the Host shows the wound that was made upon Him by the lance. The Angus Dei signifies the weeping of Mary when Christ was taken down from the cross. The Communion of the priest signifies the burial of Christ. The chant which follows with great joy shows the Lord’s Resurrection. The Ite Missa est, signifies the Ascension. The Final Blessing of the priest relates the coming of the Holy Spirit. The Last Gospel that is read at the end of Mass, signifies the preaching of the Holy Apostles when, filled with the Holy Spirit, they began to preach the Gospel through the whole world, and began the conversion of the nations.

S. I would like to know whether the honor that we show to saints and their relics and images is opposed to this Divine Commandment, because it seems that we worship all these things, seeing that we genuflect before them and pray to them just as in the presence of God?


T. The Church is the spouse of God and the Holy Ghost her teacher;[1] for that reason there is no danger that she would deceive or would do anything or teach that something must be done that is opposed to the Commandments of God.[2] Moreover, that I might respond to you in this particular matter, we honor and invoke the saints as friends of God who can be an assistance to us by their prayers and merits; still, we do not hold them as Gods, nor do we adore them as Gods. It is also not against this commandment that we genuflect in their presence, because that worship is not proper to God alone, but even to creatures, especially if it is offered to loftier ones, such as to the Supreme Pontiff and to kings. In fact, it is in common use in many places for religious to genuflect in the presence of their superiors; for this reason, it is no wonder if we show such worship to the saints reigning with Christ in Heaven, such as we show to certain men abiding here on earth.


S. Therefore, why do we say, in regard to the relics of the saints, that even though they exert no influence, nevertheless we pray and genuflect to them?


T. By no means do we direct prayers to relics, which we rightly know are without sense; rather, we honor them because they were the instruments of those holy souls by which they sent forth both excellent works of virtues and merits of life, and the living and glorious bodies existed in their own times, but now are a precious pledge of the love which they bear toward us even now.[3] Consequently, we pour forth prayers before the relics of the saints, praying to those very saints so that through those very sweet pledges, which we hold, we might remember to call to our minds as we show that we have called to mind the honor expended to them.


S. Can the same be shown about images?


T. It is like this: because we in no way hold the images of our Lord, of the Blessed Virgin and the saints as Gods,[4] for that reason they cannot be called idols like those of the Gentiles, for they are merely images which call to our mind Christ, the Blessed Virgin, and the saints and to the extent that they are in place of books for those who do not read, because from these many Mysteries of the Catholic Faith are learned, as well as the life and death of many saints.[5] Nor do we do them honor because the images are merely made from paper, or some metal, or however skillfully they are made, rather because they represent Christ, the Blessed Virgin or other saints. And because we know these images lack all life and sense, since they were made by human hands, we ask nothing from them. Still, while praying before them, we implore the help of those whom they depict, namely, the help of Christ, the Blessed Virgin and other Saints.

[1] Ephesians 5:23.

[2] Augustine, Contra Faustum, c. 12.

[3] Ambrose, de vid. Hieron. cont. Vigil.

[4] Council of Nicaea, 11.

[5] St. Gregory I, ep. ad Serenum.


On the Roman Pontiff by St. Robert Bellarmine

De Controversiis Volume 1 On the Roman Pontiff (one volume)
De Controversiis Volume 1 On the Roman Pontiff (one volume)
De Controversiis Volume 1 On the Roman Pontiff (one volume)
De Controversiis Volume 1 On the Roman Pontiff (one volume)
Cover :

Kindle volume 1; Kindle volume 2

For the first time, St. Robert Bellarmine’s treatise on the Papacy is available in English. In this phenomenal work, St. Robert Bellarmine lays down the foundation of the Papacy by demonstrating that:

  • Monarchy is the best of all governments;
  • That Christ established a Papal Monarchy (by an exegetical commentary of Matthew XVI and John XXI);
  • That Peter succeeded in this monarchy;
  • Proving this by early Popes, Councils, the Fathers and Law;
  • What would happen were the Pope a heretic?
  • That the Roman Pontiff is not Antichrist
  • That the Pope is infallible in definitions on faith and morals as well as authoritative in Ecclesiastical laws
  • That the Pope, while he is not the lord of the world, nevertheless has indirect temporal jurisdiction in civil affairs when it is for the sake of the faith.

In this one volume edition we see Bellarmine’s splendid argumentation, based first of all in Holy Scripture, strengthened by the consensus of the Church Fathers and buttressed by arguments from later Theologians and reason.

In book 1, Bellarmine takes up whether Monarchy is the best system of government following the Aristotelian tradition because it follows that God would give the best system of government to the Church; then he proves Christ established an ecclesiastical monarchy and that He gave it to Peter. Lastly, he defends this scripturally against both Protestant and Greek Orthodox arguments.

In book 2, St. Robert proves St. Peter had successors, by proving Peter actually went to Rome, died there, and established successors there and that men have always succeeded Peter with his authority to rule the Church. He defends against Protestant arguments drawn from history such as on the 6th Council of Carthage and St. Gregory the Great’s rejection of “Universal” Bishop. Lastly, he takes up the question of what might happen were the Pope to become a heretic, where he defends the position that the Pope could never become a heretic, and in fine that the titles the Pope has been given prove that the Bishops of Rome succeed Peter in the Ecclesiastical Monarchy.

In book 3, Bellarmine shows the many contradictions and faulty reasoning used by the first Protestants in arguing that the Pope is Antichrist while also giving exposition to the authentic understanding of the passages of Scripture that speak of Antichrist. After covering presenting the testimony of Scripture and the Fathers on the signs that must precede Antichrist, Bellarmine shows how none of this agrees with the Roman Pontiff. [Note, the standalone volume Antichrist that we recently published is an abridgement of this book.] He also refutes the fable of “Pope Joan”.

In book 4, Bellarmine argues why the Pope is infallible when he defines on faith and morals and proceeds to defend Popes whom Protestants and others argued had erred while defining matters of faith. He continues to a discussion of law, and why it is not contrary to the Gospel for the Pope (or a Bishop over his diocese), to make laws that bind the faithful, refuting the teaching of John Calvin.

In book 5, Bellarmine takes up the question of the Popes power in civil affairs. Protestants had argued that the Pope tyrannously usurped the rights of sovereigns and that they meant to rule the world directly in civil affairs, while some canonists overly attached to a more medieval view were of a similar persuasion. He then proceeds to demonstrate that the Pope’s temporal is indirect, that he can intervene for the sake of the faith when excommunicating sovereigns. The protestants argued that a Bishop could not also be a temporal prince. This point is interesting in light of the fact that many, perhaps even most Catholics today hold to a position similar to the Protestant view Bellarmine refutes in this book.

It is worth noting the historical fact that the fifth book, the smallest of the entire work, actually got Bellarmine temporarily placed on the index of Forbidden books! Pope Sixtus V was a former canonist, and his friends were all canonists, and they became angry that Bellarmine argued the Pope was not Lord of the whole world. After effectively lobbying the Pope to override the decision of the Holy Office that Bellarmine’s teaching was perfectly orthodox (one member refused to tell the Pope the Fathers and saints held the same position lest the Pope put them on the index also!), Sixtus V placed St. Robert Bellarmine (as well as Francis Victoria, another holy and learned man for the same thing) on the Index of Forbidden books of 1590 until book 5 ch. 2 would be revised. The Pope died two weeks later and the next Pope, Urban VII, removed the saint from the odd company with which he had been placed.

Now is your chance to own what is not only a great treatise on theology that is foundational to today’s arguments in apologetics, but also a piece of history!

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