This quotation attributed to St. Robert Bellarmine:

"It is granted to few to recognize the true Church amid the darkness of so many schisms and heresies, and to fewer still so to love the truth which they have seen as to fly to its embrace."

is perhaps, well-known; but I would like to ascertain the context in which it was given---to see if it relates to some sort of a great apostasy, the end times, or something else.

Does anyone know the origin of the above quotation so that I may read the context surrounding it? Preferably an online source in French or English; but Latin OK.

1 Answer 1


It comes from a 14 February 1614 letter St. Robert wrote to

A certain Benjamin Antony Carier, canon of Canterbury and chaplain in ordinary to King James I, who considered him to be the most learned theologian in England, [and who] studied the Controversies anxiously and carefully.

—James Brodrick, Robert Bellarmine: Saint and Scholar (1961), pp. 87-88

Ibid. p. 89-90 contains an English translation of an excerpt of the letter.

The context is the persecutions Canon Carier had to endure in Anglican England. This follows immediately after what you quote:

…generously despising comfort, honour and, above all, royal favour, the unfailing source of such earthly prizes. If in your voluntary exile you have to endure sorrow and want for our Lord's sake, you will be blessed indeed, being made worthy not only to believe in Christ with your whole heart, but also to suffer for His Name. As in heaven nothing will be sweeter than to resemble him in his glory, so here on earth nothing is more to our advantage than to be like him in his Passion.

  • Many thanks for this answer.
    – DDS
    Mar 25, 2023 at 18:59

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