This quote reveals one of Cardinal Bellarmine's "secrets" to his pursuit of holiness.
In reply to a friend who asked him, some
years afterwards, by what means he made him
self so good an Archbishop during his residence
of three years in Capua, he gives this account :
"As when one looks into a mirror, I set my
mind to consider intently the life and conduct of
the most admired Bishops that had been in the
Church before me; endeavouring, by God's help,
to throw off all that was imperfect in myself,
and assume a new exterior, resembling theirs as
nearly as possible, that so I might adapt my
actions thereunto. Therefore read constantly
the histories of those Bishops, perusing in order
the volumes of Surius; and I read, especially,
the lives of the holy Popes Ambrose, Martin,
Augustine, Germanus, Anselm of Canterbury,
Antonine of Florence, Lawrence and others. But
I derived the greatest advantage from the narratives
of those most holy Prelates who went before me in
Capua, Ansbertus and Andoenus ; for both of them
perfectly sustained the name and office of Pastor,
nourishing the souls of their subjects with the
constant preaching of the word of God, their
bodies with liberal charities, and themselves with
the wholesome food of prayer."
Here is the exact scripture quote where
St. Robert Bellarmine based this practice of
imitating the lives of the saints.
1Cor.11 Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.