In His Divine Providence, God raised up St. Robert Francis Bellarmine (1542-1621) as one of the Church’s most learned men of the Faith during one of the most pivotal of ecclesiastical times, the era of the Council of Trent (1545-1563).
Having entered the Society of Jesus at the age of eighteen, he quickly gained a reputation as a preacher and theologian, even before being ordained to the priesthood. He was then assigned to the University of Louvain in Belgium, one of many eminent posts he would hold during his lifetime, culminating with the office of papal theologian before his death.
Latin and Greek were a particular expertise of his, along with Hebrew, the three languages necessary for a deeper understanding of Sacred Scripture. It was only natural that the future Cardinal Bellarmine would eventually compose not one, but several exegetical works on the subject, such as De Scriptoribus Ecclesiasticis (published in 1615), De Editione Latinae Vulgatae, quo sensu a Concilio Tridentino definitum sit ut ea pro authentica habeatur (posthumously in 1749), and the very book under consideration, In omnes Psalmos dilucida expositio (1611).
The latter’s title was later changed to Explanatio in Psalmos (rendered in English as A Commentary on the Book of Psalms) and this work was upheld as one of the most erudite works on the Psalms, even by his severest contemporary critics, such as Protestants who only a few years previous had been dealt a decisive apologetic blow by St. Bellarmine’s monumental Disputationes de controversiis christianae fidei.
Over three hundred years later, enthusiasm for Cardinal Bellarmine’s Commentary on the Book of Psalms was still being copiously expressed, as Benedictine Dom Matthew Britt stated within his preface to A Dictionary of the Psalter (first published in 1928):
“And it might be remarked in passing that an adequate exposition of the psalms did not await the advent of the modern philologist and Biblical critic as may be ascertained from a study of Bishop Agellius’ Commentarii in Psalmos et in divini Officii Cantica (Rome, 1606), or Blessed Cardinal Bellarmine’s Explanatio in Psalmos (Rome, 1611). For profound insight, for wealth and aptness of illustration, for lucidity and felicity of expression, combined with an innate reverence for the Sacred Scriptures, it is doubtful if these two holy prelates have been excelled by any commentators ancient or modern….”
Passing away in Rome at the age of seventy-nine in 1621, Cardinal Bellarmine was finally canonized in 1930 by Pope Pius XI, who one year later declared the saint a Doctor of the Church.
Despite fact that The Commentary on the Book of Psalms was composed over three hundred years ago during the post-Tridentine era, its continual usefulness even in the twenty-first century has been demonstrated by the fact that it has been reprinted several times within the last decade.
This spiritual goldmine of nearly 400 pages by an erudite Church Doctor opens up the Psalms, the heart of liturgical prayer, to a simple, but profound understanding.
This beautiful edition includes an elegant maroon cloth hardcover with gold embossing on the cover and spine, sewn binding, fine natural colored paper, a burgundy and black dust jacket, and burgundy satin marking ribbon.
Hardcover, 382 pp.