26. St. Andrew Bobola, Fairfield University of St. Robert Bellarmine

St. Andrew Bobola
Fairfield University of St. Robert Bellarmine

Fairfield, Connecticut

Andrew Bobola was born near Cracow, Poland in 1591, to a distinguished Catholic family of lesser nobility. Many of the family members held high positions in the State. Many also had been educated by the Jesuits, and were significant donors of Jesuit houses and chapels. Andrew went to the Jesuit school in Northern Poland, and entered the Society of Jesus in 1611.

After Andrew was ordained a priest in 1622 he engaged in various ministries in Vilna where he was pastor of a parish, visited prisoners and the poor, served plague victims and taught catechism to children. Andrew’s Catholic fervor and his Jesuit duties as preacher were noted by the Cassocks who invaded Poland in the 1650’s, and who hated Catholics and especially Jesuits. He was particularly marked out for his work with victims of the invasion. In 1657 the Cossacks found, tortured and killed him. He has been known as “the martyr of Poland,” for his extraordinary faithfulness in staying with the people, knowing what would eventually happen to him.

Andrew is depicted with his right hand raised in blessing. In his left hand he holds a scimitar with a long S-shaped guard, and a long chain reaching down from around his waist, indicating some of the means of torture and death used on him. Below the figure is a metropolitan cross with an extra cross bar slanted down from right to left, representing an attempt to force him to abandon his Catholic faith.

Fairfield, as its full title indicates, is dedicated to Saint Robert Bellarmine, and its shield contains the pine cones of the arms of Bellarmine, three in gold, partly concealed, and three others in gold on a red ground. In the top of the shield are two bunches of blue grapes and between them a hart crossing a stream, part of the coat of arms of the diocese of Hartford, Connecticut in which the University is situated. The hart bears a golden banner divided by a red cross; and below, on a scarlet field, is a blue medallion with the Jesuit crest, IHS, and the Jesuit symbol of a cross and three nails within a crown of thorns. The inscription in smaller letters reads: “Fairfield University of St. Robert Bellarmine, A.D. 1932,” the date of its foundation. The school colors are red and white.

Andrew Bobola - Fairfield University