St. Robert Bellarmine
North America, America
Medium and Support:
Purchase by the university, 2013
In front of entrance to Bellarmine Road, behind Donnarumma Hall
Upon its founding in 1942, the university’s name was “Fairfield University of Saint Robert Bellarmine, S.J.” Although Robert Bellarmine’s name is no longer included, he remains the university’s patron saint. Born Roberto Francesco Romolo Bellarmino in 1542, he became a member of the Order of the Society of Jesus in 1560, and gained renown as a professor of theology. Pope Clement VIII made him a cardinal in 1599, writing that “the Church of God had not his equal in learning.”
However, Bellarmine’s life was not without controversy. As counselor to Pope Paul V in the early 17th century, he was involved in the early proceedings against Galileo Galilei as well as the trial of Giordano Bruno. He died in Rome in 1621, and his subsequent reputation was based on his prolific published works of theology; in that sense, it is fitting that this bronze sculpture is located by the Dimenna-Nyselius Library. Dressed in a cardinal’s robes, Bellarmine rests his hand on books which bear the titles of his own work; draping the pedestal underneath them is a banner bearing his name and the symbol of the Jesuit Order, the letters IHS, taken from the first three letters of Jesus’ name in Greek. Although the process to seek his canonization began just a year after his death, it was completed only in 1930.
For more information about this piece, as well as the other sculpture that you can find around the Fairfield University campus, see ourOutdoor Sculpture Audio Guide on Cuseum here.