The Seven Last Words from the Cross
By St. Robert Bellarmine, S.J. | Introduction by Christian D. Washburn, Ph.D.
The Seven Last Words from the Cross, first published in 1618 amidst the Catholic Counter-Reformation, is a powerful reflection on the final words of Jesus Christ. In its pages, St. Robert Bellarmine, S.J., provides a profound guide for meditation on the way of the cross and the mystery of our redemption. These seven words, the “last sermon” of the world’s Redeemer, comprise everything that the prophets foretold about Christ: his preaching, prayers, sufferings, and miracles. The Seven Last Words from the Cross holds a wealth of insight for the whole of the Christian life, pointing always to Christ, who was lifted up on the cross so “that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”
“True to his spiritual father St. Ignatius, Bellarmine invites us to enter into relationship with Christ and his passion so we can be changed by it. Christian Washburn has done a great service to the Church in making this spiritual treatise available to a modern audience.”
~Most Reverend Andrew Cozzens, Auxiliary Bishop, Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis
St. Robert Bellarmine, S.J., was an eminent Jesuit theologian and cardinal. He authored numerous theological works, foremost amongst them The Controversies, a sweeping, three-volume refutation of Protestant errors, as well as several devotional works. He was canonized in 1930 and declared a Doctor of the Church in 1931.
Christian D. Washburn, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Dogmatic Theology, at the Saint Paul Seminary School of Divinity, in St. Paul, Minnesota. His articles have appeared in The Thomist, Nova et Vetera, and Gregorianum. He is also a member of both the National Lutheran–Roman Catholic Dialogue and the International Lutheran-Roman Catholic Commission on Unity.
“St. Bellarmine devoted most of his late life to retreat in Rome. The Seven Last Words from the Cross is one of the fruits of this journey. Since its publication, the work has been served generations of Catholic priests to prepare their sermons on Good Friday. Enriched with biblical, patristic and Ignatian spiritual sources, it is indispensable for anyone who wants to understand Catholic spirituality. Dr. Washburn’s informative introduction of the saint’s life and the historical background provides readers a way to fully appreciate the richness of this spiritual classic.”
~Yilun Cai, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow, Shanghai University, China
“This classic lends credence to Bellarmine’s title “Doctor of the Church.” It places its reader, not only within the thought world of the Counter-Reformation, but at the foot of the Cross. Bellarmine brings a vast understanding of the theological tradition and Scripture into a careful consideration of Christ’s last words. His interpretations show great sensibility and he approaches difficulties with edifying ingenuity. Christian Washburn capably orients the reader to this work and its context. In a clear biographical sketch, he suggestively juxtaposes Bellarmine’s humility with his impressive intellectual achievements. Dr. Washburn allows the reader to appreciate this work with insight and enthusiasm.”
~William Brownsberger, S.T.D., Academic Dean and Professor of Theology, Conception Seminary College