That the Sacrifice of the Mass is propitiatory both for the living and the dead.And forasmuch as, in this divine sacrifice which is celebrated in the mass, that same Christ is contained and immolated in an unbloody manner, who once offered Himself in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross; the holy Synod teaches, that this sacrifice is truly propritiatory and that by means thereof this is effected, that we obtain mercy, and find grace in seasonable aid, if we draw nigh unto God, contrite and penitent, with a sincere heart and upright faith, with fear and reverence. For the Lord, appeased by the oblation thereof, and granting the grace and gift of penitence, forgives even heinous crimes and sins. For the victim is one and the same, the same now offering by the ministry of priests, who then offered Himself on the cross, the manner alone of offering being different.

-The Council of Trent: The Twenty-Second Session

Bellarmine was also convinced of the need of a real destruction for sacrifice. However, he fails to find this in the consecration. For he was not convinced by Gaspard do Casal’s theory that saw Christ suffering diminishment in acquiring sacramental being. For Bellarmine, the destruction takes place in losing it, in the eating of the sacramental species by the priest. According to Bellarmine, the Sacrifice of the Mass has two essential parts: (1) the consecration, and (2) the communion/consumption. But the consecration alone does not suffice to make the Eucharist a sacrifice for, in the consecration, the immolation is entirely mystical; sacrifice, as he pointed out from his analysis of Old Testament sacrifice, requires a real destruction.

“…and all things are entirely taught in Scripture that sacrifices of necessity were to be destroyed: if living, by slaughter; if lifeless solids, […], by burning; if liquid, such as blood, wine, and water, by pouring” (Bellarmine, Disputationes de controversiis fidei [Ingolstadt, 1586–1593; Paris, 1608], De missa, 1. V., c.xxvii, t. III, col. 792).


Bellarmine emphasized: “The consumption of the sacrament, as done by the people, is not a part of the sacrifice. As done by the sacrificing priest, however, it is an essential part, but not the whole essence. . . . For the consumption carried out by the sacrificing priest is not so much the eating of the victim [what the people do] as it is the consummation of the sacrifice. It is seen as properly corresponding to the combustion of the holocaust.”


He followed the Thomistic line in seeing the sacrifice as a mystical rite, as an action circa rem oblatam. He was apparently convinced that his whole theory was in accord with the teaching of Aquinas. In the end, although his great authority as a theologian helped solidify the idea that a true sacrifice required a real destruction of the victim, hardly anyone followed him in seeing that destruction in the sacramental consumption of the species.


Next time a Roman tells you that the word “immolation” in the Council of Trent’s teachings with regards to the Sacrifice of the Mass doesn’t involve a destruction, Saint Cardinal Bellarmine is your man.

The Sacrifice of the Mass: Where Roman priest re-slaughters and destroys Christ’s body over and over again.

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