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September 17

Saint of the day:

Saint Robert Bellarmine

Patron Saint of canonists; canon lawyers; catechists; catechumens

Saint Hildegard of Bingen

Saint Robert Bellarmine’s Story

When Robert Bellarmine was ordained in 1570, the study of Church history and the fathers of the Church was in a sad state of neglect. A promising scholar from his youth in Tuscany, he devoted his energy to these two subjects, as well as to Scripture, in order to systematize Church doctrine against the attacks of the Protestant Reformers. He was the first Jesuit to become a professor at Louvain.

His most famous work is his three-volume Disputations on the Controversies of the Christian Faith. Particularly noteworthy are the sections on the temporal power of the pope and the role of the laity. Bellarmine incurred the anger of monarchists in England and France by showing the divine-right-of-kings theory untenable. He developed the theory of the indirect power of the pope in temporal affairs; although he was defending the pope against the Scottish philosopher Barclay, he also incurred the ire of Pope Sixtus V.

Bellarmine was made a cardinal by Pope Clement VIII on the grounds that “he had not his equal for learning.” While he occupied apartments in the Vatican, Bellarmine relaxed none of his former austerities. He limited his household expenses to what was barely essential, eating only the food available to the poor. He was known to have ransomed a soldier who had deserted from the army and he used the hangings of his rooms to clothe poor people, remarking, “The walls won’t catch cold.”

Among many activities, Bellarmine became theologian to Pope Clement VIII, preparing two catechisms which have had great influence in the Church.

The last major controversy of Bellarmine’s life came in 1616 when he had to admonish his friend Galileo, whom he admired. He delivered the admonition on behalf of the Holy Office, which had decided that the heliocentric theory of Copernicus was contrary to Scripture. The admonition amounted to a caution against putting forward—other than as a hypothesis—theories not yet fully proven. This shows that saints are not infallible.

Robert Bellarmine died on September 17, 1621. The process for his canonization was begun in 1627, but was delayed until 1930 for political reasons, stemming from his writings. In 1930, Pope Pius XI canonized him, and the next year declared him a doctor of the Church.






St Robert Bellarmine

(d. 1621, Rome, Italy) (Relics: Rome, Italy)


Sant’Ignazio (Saint Ignatius)

Via del Caravita 8/a

Rome, Italy

*This church is east of the Pantheon.

*The body of St Robert Bellarmine rests under the altar in the third chapel on the right side of the nave.

*The remains of St Aloysius Gonzaga (d. 1591) rest under the altar in the right transept.

His rooms are next to the church and can be visited by appointment.

*The remains of St John Berchmans (d. 1621), the patron saint of altar servers, rest under the altar in the left transept.


Churches of Honor in Rome


San Roberto Bellarmino

(Saint Robert Bellarmine)

Via Panama 13

Rome, Italy

*This church is north of Villa Borghese. It is dedicated to St Robert Bellarmine.





We are celebrating with Italian recipes because our Saint was from Italy.




  • 1 lb. Russet potatoes, unpeeled

  • 1 1⁄4 cups semolina flour, sifted

  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten

  • 1 cup Genovese pesto (see below)

  • Grated parmesan, for serving


  1. Put potatoes into a 4-qt. pot of salted water; boil.

  2. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer until potatoes are tender, 25 minutes.

  3. Drain; let cool.

  4. Peel potatoes; pass through medium plate of a food mill into a bowl.

  5. Add flour and eggs; using a fork, stir until dough forms.

  6. Transfer dough to a work surface; knead briefly to combine.

  7. Divide the dough into 6 portions.

  8. Roll each portion into a 1⁄2″-thick rope.

  9. Cut ropes into 1⁄2″-wide pieces; using the back of a fork, roll pieces along tines to imprint them with ridges.

  10. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and working in batches, add gnocchi and cook until just tender, about 5 minutes.

  11. Using a slotted spoon, transfer gnocchi to a large bowl and toss with pesto until evenly coated, adding a couple spoonfuls of cooking water, if needed, to create a smooth sauce.

  12. Transfer to a large serving platter or bowls and serve with more freshly grated parmesan.



  • 4 cups packed basil, blanched briefly in boiling water and shocked in ice water

  • 1⁄2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1⁄2 cup finely grated parmesan

  • 1⁄4 cup pine nuts

  • 3 tbsp. finely grated pecorino

  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

  • Coarse sea salt, to taste


  1. Process basil, oil, parmesan, pine nuts, pecorino, and garlic in a food processor until smooth; season with salt.





Ricotta Pie with Amarena Cherries



  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, slightly cooled,
    plus more for pan

  • 1 cup slivered almonds

  • ⅓ cup all-purpose flour

  • ⅓ cup sugar

  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt

  • 2 large egg yolks

Filling and Assembly

  • 12 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

  • 1½ cups whole-milk fresh ricotta

  • ¾ cup sour cream

  • 2 large egg yolks

  • 1 large egg

  • ¾ cup sugar

  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt

  • ¾ teaspoon almond extract

  • ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract

  • ½ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

  • ½ teaspoon finely grated orange zest

  • Amarena or Italian maraschino cherries (for serving)

Special Equipment

  • A 9-inch-diameter springform pan



  1. Place a rack in middle of oven and preheat to 325°.

  2. Generously butter pan and set aside.

  3. Pulse almonds, flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor until almonds are finely ground and mixture is combined.

  4. Add egg yolks and pulse to incorporate.

  5. Add 3 Tbsp. butter to mixture and pulse until dough is the consistency of wet sand.

  6. Press crust into the bottom and ¾" up the sides of prepared pan using a straight-sided measuring cup.

  7. Chill until firm, about 10 minutes.

  8. Bake crust until evenly golden brown and set, 12–14 minutes.
    (If it slumps during cooking, you can always press it back into place with the measuring cup while it’s still warm.)

  9. Transfer pan to a wire rack and let crust cool.

  10. Do Ahead: Crust can be baked 1 day ahead. Store tightly covered at room temperature.

Filling and Assembly

  1. Keep oven at 325°. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat cream cheese in a medium bowl until no lumps remain, about 1 minute.

  2. Add ricotta and sour cream and beat until well incorporated.

  3. Add egg yolks and egg one at a time, beating well between each addition.

  4. With the motor running, gradually add sugar and salt and beat until filling is creamy and smooth, about 2 minutes.

  5. Add almond extract, vanilla extract, lemon zest, and orange zest and mix just to incorporate.

  6. Set pan with prepared crust on a large sheet of foil and fold up foil tightly around sides of pan (you can turn 2 small sheets of foil into 1 large sheet by folding their edges together several times, then opening up like a book). Repeat with several more pieces of foil to create a waterproof seal around the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Set inside a large roasting pan or baking dish and pour filling into crust (it will go above the crust).

  7. Set roasting pan on oven rack and carefully pour in very hot water to come about halfway up the side of the springform pan.

  8. Bake ricotta pie until the top is set and dry to touch but the filling still wobbles underneath (it will firm as it cools), 65–75 minutes.

  9. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill until cool and firm, 3–4 hours.

  10. Slice ricotta pie and serve topped with amarena cherries.

  11. Do Ahead: Ricotta pie can be made 3 days ahead. Keep chilled.

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