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JESUITICA: Bellarmine jugs

bellarminejug_01The face of St Robert Bellarmine, the 16th century Jesuit theologian, became known all over Europe, but not in a holy picture. Protestants in the Low Countries, stung by Bellarmine’s critique of the Reformers, originated a design for a drinking jug in ridicule of their great opponent. He was described as ‘short and hard-featured,’ and thus he was typified in the corpulent beer-jug shown here. The Cardinal’s face, with the great square-cut beard then peculiar to ecclesiastics, and termed ‘the cathedral beard,’ was placed in front of the jug, which was called a Bellarmine. It was so popular as to be manufactured by thousands, in all sizes and qualities of cheapness; sometimes the face was delineated in the rudest and fiercest style.