Saint Robert Bellarmine is one of my favorite saints. I read The Art of Dying Well and The Mind's Ascent to God years ago; I've studied his involvement in the Galileo crisis; and recently I've noticed his efforts to explain the power of both popes and monarchs. As Franciscan Media describes his life's work:
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. . . .
John M. Vella reviewed two books by theologian Stefania Tutino in a 2012 post for Homiletic & Pastoral Review. One book, Empire of Souls: Robert Bellarmine and the Christian Commonwealth published by Oxford University Press, explores Bellarmine's theories of papal power and the Divine Right of Kings:
Stefania Tutino offers the first full-length study of the impact of Bellarmine's theory of the potestas indirecta in early modern Europe. Following the reactions to Bellarmine's theory across national and confessional boundaries, this book explores some of the most crucial political and theological knots in the history of post-Reformation Europe, from the controversy over the Oath of Allegiance to the battle over the Interdetto in Venice. The book sets those political and religious controversies against the background of the theological and institutional developments of the post-Tridentine Catholic Church. By examining the violent and at times surprising controversies originated by Bellarmine's theory, this book challenges some of the traditional assumptions regarding the theological shape of post-Tridentine Catholicism; it offers a fresh perspective on the centrality of the links between confessional affiliation and political allegiance in the development of the modern nation-states; and it contributes to our understanding of the development of 'modern' notions of power and authority.
The other book, which Professor Tutino translated, edited, and annotated, is a collection of St. Robert Bellarmine's works on power and authority: On Temporal and Spiritual Authority: On Laymen or Secular People; On the Temporal Power of the Pope Against William Barclay; On the Primary Duty of the Supreme Pontiff, is published by Liberty Fund.
Vella commented on Bellarmine's influence at the end of his reivew:
St. Robert Bellarmine, Pray for Us!