Counter Reformation

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This designation for the great spiritual revival within the Church during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries was used by Leopold von Ranke and gained a widely accepted reference value, being used both by Protestant and Catholic historians. Strictly speaking, however, the term remains a misnomer, since it implies that the undeniable revival of Catholicism that occurred in early modern Europe had its origin as a reaction to protestantism and was entirely negative in aspect. Had the Catholic notion of reform been a counterreformation in this sense only, it could not have originated before the Protestant movement; and yet it did.

Analysis of the Term. Martin Luther was but one of many who cried for reform. The Oratory of divine love, for example, one of the most influential of the early reform groups, was initiated at Genoa in 1497 through the zeal of Ettore Vernazza and St. catherine of genoa and spread to Rome (1515), Florence, Lucca, Vicenza, Naples, and elsewhere. Its origin was entirely independent of Luther and it was destined to remain an orthodox instrument of reform within the Church. Nor was this resurgence of Catholic spirit directed exclusively against or even connected with Protestantism. St. Teresa of Avila's holy life and mystical writings are not related in the usual sense of the term to the contemporary Protestant struggle with the Church, and yet she occupies an important place in the Catholic revival. Still reform efforts did touch doctrine. Protestantism championed beliefs devout Catholics judged erroneous, and the Protestant movements converted many to these beliefs. Thus, the Church declared these teachings false and actively sought to win back those who had adopted them. In this sense the term Counter Reformation retains a limited usefulness when used to describe those measures designed to combat Protestantism specifically. These negative dimensions of the movement, though, were only a small part of the whole. Consequently, scholars have more recently advocated the use of the term "Catholic Reformation" to describe the great international revival that occurred within the Church between the late fifteenth and early eighteenth centuries. This revival was not prompted by the appearance of Protestantism and was a phenomenon independent of the reformation. The terms "Counter Reformation" or counterreformation continue to be used to describe the prohibitionary measures that appeared within the Catholic Church and Catholic states, particularly in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth century, that were designed to combat Protestantism specifically.

Elements of Catholic Renewal. Administrative abuse and corruption was common to the late-medieval Church, and had long been attacked by the institution's foremost spiritual leaders. The first signs of long-term renewal, though, can be traced to the resurgence of spirit within older religious orders, particularly in the fourteenth and fifteenth-century Observant movements. These movements strove to re-establish a disciplined observance of their order's primitive monastic rules. In addition, a number of new religious orders appeared, and an intensification of devotion, witnessed in a renewed commitment to ascetical and mystical life, is evident. New types of missionary organizations emerged as well; among these, the Jesuits (1540), were eventually to exercise the greatest influence upon Catholic renewal and upon the spread of Catholicism to new areas around the globe. The clarification of doctrine and disciplinary legislation effected by the Council of trent presented the Church with a clear program for institutional and doctrinal reform. Finally, in many states the support of temporal rulers was indispensable to the revitalization of the Church and the establishment of Tridentine discipline. The renewal that flowed from all these various sources were to leave their mark upon European culture, and through colonial contact, upon large areas of the globe. And they in turn influenced literature, scholarship, education, and the fine arts.

Condition of the Church. The Council of con stance (141418) had ended the Great western schism (13871417) within Christendom but it did not accomplish its second great task, namely, that of reform. Longstanding abuses persisted. Authority, revenues, and the care of souls were held by autonomous groups and individuals whose jurisdictions often geographically over-lapped and who were loosely held together only by their obedience to the pope. The result was confusion and corruption. Many parish appointments were in the hands of clerical patrons; in Lyons, a particularly notorious example, the archbishop controlled only 21 of the 392 parishes in his diocese. The plight of bishops was made more difficult by the exemptions from their jurisdiction often granted by the Holy See. Thus, within his diocese a bishop often lacked effective control over the cathedral chapters, collegiate churches, monasteries, religious orders, and clerical patrons. Furthermore, there was a fragmentation of jurisdiction among the monastic orders. This was illustrated in the unsuccessful attempts by the general chapters of Cluny, Cîteaux, and Prémontré to command their monasteries. Various national rulers regarded ecclesiastical positions in their realms as rewards for those who served them well and made appointments with disregard of spiritual qualifications. An office with its authority began to be regarded as a source of income, a piece of property. Money thus improperly channeled often led to financial privation. Clerical patrons, though collecting tithes, did not always provide for the needs of parish priests, and thus forced them to seek money through such practices as charging for the administration of the Sacraments. Moreover, the literacy of the lower clergy was poor since proper education was beyond their means. Monasteries that were held incommendam fell into ill repair because of inadequate funds. Since particular benefices yielded insufficient revenue, the practice of pluralism (necessarily involving absenteeism) became common. Moreover, bishops and even the papacy itself suffered financial want. For example, the pope was continually in debt from 1471 to 1520 and as a remedy sold offices and the privileges of religious exemption. The many jurisdictions caused an increasing emphasis upon nepotism as a means to protect and increase power. The papacy, surrounded by a tumultuous Italy, relied upon relatives for loyalty. As a further administrative complication, the papacy was surrounded by Catholic princes who, although religious subjects, were political enemies. This gave rise to yet another disedifying spectacle, the use of military force and diplomatic statecraft to ensure the security of those temporal papal possessions that in turn ensured the pope's spiritual independence. From the simony, pluralism, absenteeism, nepotism, and the lack of efficient discipline in the Church's structure moral decline often followed as in the reigns of the pontiffs inno cent viii (148492) and alexander vi (14921503).

Martin Luther was officially excommunicated by the bull Decet romanum pontificem of Jan. 3, 1521, and throughout the 1520s and 1530s reform movements proliferated throughout Northern Europe. In 1525 the grand master of the Teutonic Knights, albrecht of branden burg, became Lutheran and secularized the territory of his jurisdiction. By 1528 areas won or nearly won for Protestantism in the empire were Brunswick-Lüneburg, Mansfeld, Silesia, Hesse, Brandenburg, and Electoral Saxony. In Switzerland Ulrich Zwingli fashioned a reform movement that was even more puritanical and extreme than the reforms advocated by Martin Luther. It soon was adopted at Zürich (1523), Bern (1528), Basel (1529), and Schaffhausen (1529), and would eventually spread throughout most of the German-speaking cantons. In Sweden Lutheranism triumphed at the Rikstag of Västerås in 1527. England broke from the Church through the Act of Supremacy in 1534. Denmark under King Christian III made Lutheranism its state religion in 1536 and imposed it upon conquered Norway the next year. Another of Denmark's subject areas, Iceland, would see its first Lutheran bishop, Gizzur Finarsson, elected in 1540. Livonia proclaimed Lutheranism in 1554. The same year Transylvania's national assembly decreed religious freedom for all faiths. In 1555 Sigismund II Augustus granted freedom of worship to all Protestants, the very year in which the Peace of augsburg granted legality to Lutheran princedoms within the empire. In 1560 the parliament of Scotland rejected papal authority. France declared its first act of Protestant toleration by the edict of January 1562. The following series of religious wars ended in a more permanent act of toleration, the Edict of Nantes in 1598. The Dutch Netherlands secured its Calvinist religion by 1609. Also during this period Protestantism had made great strides in Austria, Hungary, and Bohemia. see reformation, protestant (on the conti nent); reformation, protestant (in the british isles); reformed churches; scotland, church of; ireland, church of.

First Signs of Revival in the Later Middle Ages. In the two centuries preceding the Reformation a number of new religious groups appeared, such as the Order of the Blessed Savior, inaugurated by St. bridget of swe den in 1346, which established 80 houses within a century; the Alexians, originated in the Low Countries in 1348; the jesuati, instituted in Italy by Bl. john colombini c. 1366; the influential brethren of the common life, established shortly before the death of their founder, Gerard groote, in 1384 (see devotio moderna); the hierony mites (los jerÓnimos) of Spain and Portugal organized by Pedro Fernandez Pecha and approved by Gregory XI in 1373; the Oblate Congregation of Tor de' Specchi, founded by St. frances of rome in 1436. In the same year the Order of minims was founded by St. francis of paola and was to spread to 450 houses in 100 years. Great devotional literature appeared, notably the imitation of christ and the work from which it borrowed material, the Life of Christ by the Carthusian lu dolph of saxony. Among the numerous saints were vincent ferrer (13571418), john capistran (13931456), antoninus (13891459), and Catherine of Genoa (14471510). Although these figures may not have given rise to reform movements as pervasive as those of Sts. Dominic or Francis, they demonstrated a spiritual continuity that would eventually produce extensive reform. This revival began through the combined influence of Christian humanists, reform-minded prelates, and new religious societies. Among the Christian humanists who kept the best of the classical past and used their learning to serve the cause of religion were Marsilio fi cino, Gasparo contarini, Jacopo sadoleto, Desiderius erasmus, and most notably St. Thomas More. Also the work and example of conscientious bishops encouraged this restoration. Thus the diocesan reform of Bb. Gian Matteo giberti of Verona (14951543) became a model throughout Italy. Cardinal ximÉnez de cisneros, Primate of Spain (14951517), initiated a wide program that included monastic reform, the establishment of the University of alcalÁ for the education of the clergy, attacks against absenteeism, and pressure on the clergy to care properly for souls under their charge. He also personally directed to completion the great Complutensian Polyglot Bible, a six-volume edition of the Scriptures. New religious societies came into being at the end of the fifteenth century, stemming from the influence of St. Catherine of Genoa. One of these was the Roman Oratory of Divine Love. Its membership, composed of laymen and clergy, sought as the first task the reform of their own lives through frequent Confession and Communion, works of charity, common prayer, meditation, and study. The Oratory is important because in its membership were effective Christian humanists and reformers, such as Sadoleto and Gian Pietro Carafa (paul iv).

Renewal within the Religious Orders. The religious orders, with their wide-ranging activities in education, prayer, scholarship, defense of the faith, charity, and pastoral care, had been in the past a mighty arm of the Church. However, they had suffered spiritual decline during the period of increasing darkness prior to the great resurgence within the soul of Catholicism. Their important role in the Church's apostolate made their revitalization valuable. At the same time it was symptomatic of the general transformation taking place elsewhere. The old orders were directed toward reform under the guidance of the Church, but their zeal was stimulated principally by numerous saintly members. Among the Camaldolese the movement began during the reign of Leo X (151321) through the efforts of Bl. Paolo giustiniani and his successor as superior general, Giustiniano da Bergamo. The Capuchins, inspired by Matteo Serafini da bascio, began as a reform within the Franciscans and date their foundation from the bull of Clement VII, Religionis zelus, July 3, 1528. This order was conspicuous in the years of struggle with Protestantism, and its reputation was brightened by Saints felix of cantalice, lawrence of brindisi, and fidelis of sigmaringen, who was martyred by Calvinists in the Swiss Grisons in 1624. The revival of the Augustinians had begun prior to the time of Luther, in the person of the scholarly Giles of Viterbo, who was vicar-general from 1506, and in the thorough visitations ordered by the general Girolamo seripando in 1539. The Dominican Order was purged of heretical elements by visitations in 1543 and 1547 during the reign of Paul III. The saintly Dominican Antonio (Michele) Ghislieri, as commissary-general of the Roman Inquisition and later as pius v (156672), brought austerity and integrity to the Holy See in these crucial years. The outstanding reformers of the Carmelite Order were Saints Teresa of Avila (d. 1582) and john of the cross (d. 1591). Their importance was derived not only from their organizational skill but also from their holiness and mystical writings.

New orders also developed and intensified the spiritual awakening. Out of the Oratory of Divine Love grew the theatines, founded by St. cajetan (Gaetano da Thiene) in 1524. These clerks regular, following the example of the Oratory, kept their membership small to act as a healthy cell in the body of the secular clergy. The Clerks Regular of somaschi, founded c. 1532 by St. Jerome emiliani, devoted themselves especially to the aid of orphans and the poor. The barnabites, or Clerks Regular of St. Paul, owed their origin to St. Anthony zac caria in 1530. As missionaries they spread throughout Italy, preaching, hearing confessions, and giving retreats; they quickly established themselves in France, Germany, and Bohemia. St. Angela merici founded the ursulines for service to young girls in 1535. The Ursuline Order shared the Jesuit emphasis upon "practicality" in the field of education. All of these new orders adapted themselves to the needs of an active service outside the cloister.

The Society of Jesus. The jesuits were among the most important organizations defending and propagating the Catholic faith. The society's many saints and martyrs testified to its dedication, and its enormous success demonstrated the suitability of its methods. St. ignatius of loyola, wounded in 1521, had undergone a personal spiritual transformation during his convalescence. In 1534 Francis xavier, Peter faber, Diego lainez, Alfonso Salmeron, Nicolás de Bobadilla, and Simón Rodriquez joined him in solemn vows, thus forming the nucleus of the Jesuit Order. On Sept. 27, 1540, Paul III confirmed the order by his bull Regimini militantis Ecclesiae. The stated purpose of the order at its inception was the propagation of the faith; later the terminology was changed to propagation and defense of the faith. In this task it placed itself at the disposal of the pope in absolute obedience. The order's success was due to its flexibility and practicality. Thus, the Jesuits adopted the innovation of not saying the Office in choir, thereby freeing members to perform their active apostolate. St. Ignatius wrote the Spiritual Exercises (printed in 1548) as a practical guide by which the will could be trained to achieve complete dedication to God. The Jesuit Constitutions constantly stressed efficiency; they prohibited acceptance of benefices or episcopal office except at papal command; submitted its members, who were recruited with extreme care, to lengthy and thorough training; barred pious works that detracted from primary duties; and disapproved of extremes in mortification that might hinder health and competence. The order was structured to avoid controversy and delay and constantly stressed discipline and unhesitating obedience. Great power was given to the general; he was elected for life and nominated men to all important posts throughout the order. The general congregation made up of the order's elite was to be summoned only in exceptional cases. The growth of the Society of Jesus was remarkable: in the year of its foundation there were ten members; when St. Ignatius died (1566), there were 1,000; in 1580 the order had grown to 5,000. Seventy-six years after its foundation the Jesuits numbered 13,112 in 436 houses scattered through 37 provinces.

The activities of the order became diverse as it expanded but finally centered upon missions and education. In missionary work vigorous efforts were launched to hold and win back various areas of Europe for the Church. Inspired by St. Francis Xavier's example, the Society also spread the Catholic faith around the world. The ratio studiorum was issued during the generalate of Claudius acquaviva (15811615) to regulate a plan of studies and teaching method for the great number of Jesuit colleges scattered throughout Europe and in non-Christian lands. In the Holy Roman Empire alone 155 colleges were established between 1551 and 1650.

Devotional Revival. A renewal of Catholic piety took place in Europe even as religious unity was being shattered. Inspirational and mystical writings appeared, whose influence is still felt. St. John of the Cross wrote The Ascent of Mount Carmel, The Dark Night of the Soul, The Spiritual Canticle, and The Living Flame of Love. St. francis de sales gave to Catholicism his Introduction to the Devout Life and Treatise on the Love of God. Pierre de bÉrulle, founder of the French Oratory, is known for the Brief Discourse of Christian Abnegation but chiefly for The Greatness of Jesus. St. Teresa of Avila wrote her inspirational Autobiography, The Way to Perfection, and The Interior Castle. The Spiritual Fight is ascribed to Lorenzo scupoli. John Baptist Carioni wrote Concerning Knowledge and Victory over Oneself.

The devotional revival manifested great variety. On the one hand, St. vincent de paul emphasized asceticism; on the other, St. Teresa accented mysticism. St. Philip neri's cheerfulness was in contrast to Pierre de Bérulle's somberness. The Italian devotional school differed from the Spanish by being less speculative, more tuned to action. St. John of the Cross's writings were directed especially to the cloistered and seemed severe by ordinary standards, while St. Francis de Sales's books were addressed particularly to the laity and were leavened with "spiritual sweetness."

Moreover, interest in St. Joseph was revived by Saints Teresa and Francis de Sales; perpetual adoration was originated by St. Anthony Zaccaria; devotion to the Child Jesus, the Sacred Heart, the Eucharist, the Holy Family, the angels and the guardian angels, and the Angelus were popularized.

Papal and Ecclesiastical Reformers. Because abuse and corruption had stemmed from faulty administration and unworthy administrators, thorough reform could not be achieved until the Church's hierarchy accepted corrective measures. Pope adrian vi (152223) was the first pontiff vigorously to attempt such reform. Antagonism toward him as an "uncultured" northerner and the shortness of his reign prevented any appreciable results. paul iii (153449) appointed to the cardinalate members of the reform party, Carafa, Pole, Giberti, and Sadoleto, and after two unsuccessful attempts succeeded in convening the Council of Trent. In the person of paul iv (155559) reform fervor reached flood tide. A strict moralist and a former inquisitor general, he personally undertook thorough reform, beginning with the Curia, from which unnecessary bishops were sent home to their dioceses. Fiscal abuses were prohibited. Life in Rome itself came under Paul's stern discipline. Under pius iv (155965) the Council of Trent was successfully concluded, and its measures began to be put into effect. Pope Pius practiced nepotism, but this was to issue in the Church's good fortune through the appointment of St. Charles borromeo to the Curia. pius v, the first pope in 272 years destined to be canonized, took many actions to strengthen the Church. For example, whereas Thomistic philosophy had been severely criticized by Protestant reformers, St. Pius upheld it by naming St. Thomas a Doctor of the Church. Moreover, Pius's personal holiness removed the stigma attached to the papacy by the religious secularism of the Renaissance popes. By the end of his reign, it was clear that the papacy was irrevocably committed to reform. After Pius V the popes followed the program laid down by the Council of Trent. In the hierarchy there were many eminent men, among them: St. Francis de Sales, Otto truchsess, St. Charles Borromeo, Stanislaus hosius, David Rothe, Pierre de Bérulle, and William Damasus Lindanus. Of special significance was St. Robert bellarmine, who not only demonstrated the quality of Jesuit education and the moral caliber of the hierarchy, but by his great work, Disputationes de controversiis Christianae fidei, showed that Catholic polemicists could again defend doctrine with assurance.

The Council of Trent. Meeting at a time of crisis, the Council of Trent took up issues of moral, doctrinal, and administrative reform that had long plagued the Church. Moreover, through its doctrinal decrees, it cleared the theological atmosphere that had been clouded with confusion consequent to the many doctrinal assertions of Protestant leaders. Because of national interests, it was difficult to convene, to continue, and to implement the council. Emperor charles v wished no interference with his own policies toward Protestants within the empire. Francis I, King of France, desired to maintain control over the Church within his state. Struggles between national rulers affected this international meeting. The unsuccessful attempts by Pope Paul III to convene the council and the fluctuation in the numbers of those present at the sessions are evidence of the national rivalries. There were at most 72 present at the first meeting (154548), 59 at the second (155152), and 235 at the third (156263). Nevertheless, in spite of difficulties, the council succeeded in reaffirming the traditional teaching of the Church and clarifying controversial points. Papal primacy was upheld: Trent submitted its decrees to the Pope for confirmation. The definition of the Catholic position on justification was approved during the very first meeting, thus giving the Church's position on the basic difference between itself and Protestantism. Protestant positions on such matters as the number and nature of the Sacraments were denied. The effect of Tridentine reforms was to strengthen the power of the bishop to combat abuse. The bishop was to have authority in granting benefices, in allowing preaching, in conducting visitations including those of religious houses not visited by the head of the order, in regulating women's convents by sending them confessors, in appointing parish priests to hear confessions. No longer were exemptions and appeals to Rome to interfere with the bishop's control, nor were benefices to be bequeathed. Also, action was taken against pluralities, provisions, expectancies, and the simoniacal acquisition of benefices. To safeguard the clerical office clerical dress was required, severe penalties were enacted against concubinage, and diocesan seminary education was to be provided for the priesthood. The laity was to be protected through prohibition of improper use of indulgences and by a revised index of forbidden books.

Pope Pius IV confirmed the Tridentine decrees in 1564, and the papacy fulfilled the council's wishes by issuing new editions of the Index (1564), a catechism (1566), a Breviary (1568), and the Missal (1570). Implementation of the council's decrees was handicapped by politics. Although Portugal and the Polish King Sigismund II Augustus accepted them in 1564, Spain would do so only after reserving rights previously held by the crown. The French government did not recognize the decrees, although they were accepted by the French clergy in 1615. In the empire they were received by Catholic princes in 1566 but never were approved by the Emperor. In spite of resistance, the council was a substantial advance toward spiritual and doctrinal reform. Still, the campaign against administrative abuse, clerical concubinage, and other corruption within the Church, while prescribed at Trent, required several generations of vigorous efforts upon the part of local bishops to accomplish. These reform efforts were, of course, most successful in those states in which the prince actively supported the cause of reform. But by 1700, the Tridentine programwith its emphasis on clerical discipline, sacramental religion, and diocesan authorityhad achieved a degree of success throughout most of Catholic Europe.

Foreign Missions. The intensified zeal of Catholicism flowed from Catholic Europe to carry the Church's teachings around the world. Missionaries went also to those parts of Europe that had been lost to the Church and were thus now "foreign" to Catholic Christendom. St. Francis Xavier, only one year after the foundation of the Jesuit Order, traveled to India, Malaya, the East Indies, and Japan, and after converting hundreds of thousands, died as he prepared to evangelize China. Long before the official establishment of the Congregation for the propa gation of the faith (1622) or any significant Protestant missionary effort, vast numbers were baptized. More people would be gained in distant parts of the world than were lost to Protestantism in Europe. In 1529 the Flemish Franciscan lay brother Peter of Ghent spoke of 14,000 daily Baptisms in the Mexican mission. By 1594 the saintly Turibio Alfonso de mogrovejo, Archbishop of Lima, had already confirmed 500,000 people. There were about two million conversions in the Philippines by 1620. Between 1647 and 1651 Felix de Viler baptized more than 600,000 in the Congo. Notable efforts would be made as well in Brazil, Paraguay, Japan (200,000 converts, 240 churches, and two Jesuit colleges by 1587), Canada, India, Indo-China, China, Constantinople, Syria, Ethiopia, Morocco, Persia, West Indies, and South Africa. In many of these places, though, indigenous elements of pre-Christian religions were to survive in tandem with Catholicism for many centuries to come. Sometimes new syncretic religions resulted from the contact with Catholic missionaries, too. Among the many other missionaries were Matteo ricci, Jean de Brébeuf, Roberto de nobili, Alexandre de rhodes, José d'Anchieta, and Domingo de salazar. In Europe many risked their lives to maintain or replant the faith in areas under Protestant control. Colleges were founded to train clerics for European mission fields. The English college, for example, founded at douai by Cardinal William allen, sent 488 priests to England prior to 1603. Between 1577 and 1603, there were 123 priests, in addition to about 60 of the laity who assisted them, put to death. (see england, scotland and wales, martyrs of.) Although England did not return to Catholic Christendom, the faith survived. Another example, one that could have had far-reaching consequences, was Sweden. Here Laurentius nielsen secretly began his work for the conversion of Sweden in 1576. Two years later Antonio possevino privately received King John III into the Church. The Swedish mission eventually failed, but the enterprise remained one of extraordinary daring.

Literary and Artistic Revival. Culture as a reflection of its times gave witness to Catholic revitalization. Writers, painters, sculptors, architects in many cases were personally affected by the new intensity of religious feeling. The musician Giovanni Pierluigi da palestrina (152594) and the writer Luigi Tansillo demonstrate this in the change that took place between their earlier and later works. The painters Il Domenechino (Domenico Zampieri; 15811641), Jacques Callot, and Bartolomé Esteban murillo, who belonged to a religious brotherhood, were men of piety. The artistic demands of patrons and the popularity of such writers as Pierre Corneille show that public values had undergone transformation as well. This new cultural outlook sometimes recoiled from the worldliness of the Renaissance and concentrated on the spiritual. The simplicity and austerity that characterized the earlier period of this revival later ceded to the exuberance of the baroque while still retaining its religious emphasis. The Council of Trent had indicated that art was to serve religion, and indeed one of the distinctive features of this cultural renewal was the emphasis upon religious purpose. Culture was not exclusively for culture's sake. Its religious use would extend to the field of apologetics. For example, in apparent defiance of the views held by Protestant leaders, Catholic artists frequently chose for their themes the most severely attacked Catholic beliefs and devotional subjects; the Real Presence, the Child Jesus, St. Joseph, the Blessed Virgin, St. Peter, Purgatory, and such contemporary figures as Charles Borromeo and Teresa of Ávila. The stress on religious utility also is seen in Church architecture. Churches were designed that could accommodate large congregations, provide good acoustics and be erected rapidly and inexpensively. Builders often dispensed with costly stained-glass windows.

In literature a choice of such themes as the repentant Saints Peter or Mary Magdalen was frequent; one of the greatest is Tansillo's Lagrime di San Pietro. Torquato Tasso believed that virtue must be stressed in poetry, and admirably carried out his idea in his epic poems Gerusalemme liberta (1575) and Il mondo creato (1590). In the field of drama the didactic drama produced by Jesuit colleges had a deep effect upon students as well as upon great writers, such as Corneille. In painting the foremost representative of reawakened Catholicism was the Bolognese school founded by the Carracci brothers. They were "eclectics" because of their combination of distinctive artistic techniques, but they chose religious themes that well illustrate the attempt of the Catholic revival to use the finest techniques in the service of religion. Their influence was widespread in Europe. In architecture the church of the Gesù built by Vignola (Giacomo Borozzi) in 1568 had a significant effect upon architectural style. The classical form of architecture accentuating horizontal lines was widely employed, but height was added to give the impression of soaring aspiration reminiscent of the Middle Ages. Giacomo della Porta achieved this in St. Peter's Basilica at Rome. In music the outstanding figure of this period was Palestrina, director of music at St. Peter's, whose services helped spiritualize church music. In sculpture less great work was done, but a worthy example of this age's ideals is Stefano Maderno's (15761636) St. Cecilia. (see church architecture, history of; liturgical music, history of.)

Political Effects upon the Revival. The actions of secular rulers and political situations greatly influenced the results of Catholic religious fervor. The Council of Trent was temporarily hindered by French fears that, if it should be successful in ending Lutheranism within the empire, the Emperor would become too strong. Again, it was feared that there would be a loss of state control and of the use of the Church for the state's benefit. In England Queen Elizabeth's power, increased by a national dread of Spanish invasion, proved too great an obstacle for the missionaries. French support of the Swedish Protestant forces helped turn the tide against Catholic Hapsburgs in the thirty years' war, which in 1648 concluded in a political stalemate. As a result, the principle cujus regio, ejus religio or "he who rules, his religion," was reapplied in the empire. Protestantism was upheld by the states in the north, but the gains made by St. Peter canisi us and others stabilized Catholicism in the south. In Poland the stanch loyalty of the peasants combined with the activity of the Jesuits had given determined resistance to the strong Protestant party. With the aid of Sigismund III, the battle was won in total victory for Catholicism. In France Catholics were aided by influence from Catholic Spain in preventing Calvinist control of their country. Calvinism gained the right of toleration, but it ceased to be a danger because of the continuing resurgence of French Catholicism. In Hungary the support of Hapsburg rulers favored Catholicism in its gains. Spain and Italy were two of the earliest areas to experience the Catholic revival. They needed but one ingredient to insure the faith, Catholic rule. Both lands were to have this during the Protestant movement. In Scandinavia Lutheranism gained ascendancy with governmental support. Except for the brief interlude of John III and his son, Sigismund, it would retain control with the same assistance.

Conclusion. The Catholic Church faced a severe test in the 16th and 17th centuries. Its corruption had long been criticized, but it was tolerated all the same. With the coming of the Reformation these faults became grist for Protestant attacks, and in the first generation after their appearance, vast areas of Northern and Central Europe were converted to the new religions. Even at this low point, though, the Catholic Church possessed great sources of spiritual renewal. In the century before Luther these forces had gathered strength, but they had been unable to achieve any long-standing reform of the Church. Now they gained momentum during the formation of Protestantism and helped to produce a great resurgence within Roman Catholicism. Though the episcopate and the papacy did not achieve any outstanding corporate reform in the century before Luther, evidence of inner dynamism for eventual restoration had appeared and would gain momentum during the formation of Protestantism.

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[e. l. lampe/

p. soergel]


views updated May 17 2018

Counter-Reformation. Movement of revival and reform in the Roman Catholic Church during the 16th and early 17th cents. The term was used in the 19th cent. to describe that Church's response to the Reformation and the rise of Protestantism, but this is too limiting a concept. The early leaders of the Counter-Reformation (such as Cisneros in Spain, Pole or Giberti in Italy), the revival of religious orders such as the Augustinians and the Carmelites, or the foundation of new orders such as the Jesuits, owed little or nothing to the reaction to Protestantism. However, the summoning of the Council of Trent was a consequence of the spread of Lutheranism, and much of the debate at Trent, especially that on the sacraments, took place in the light of positions adopted by the Reformers. Even though the Counter-Reformation may not have owed its origin to Luther's revolt, it had the effect of hardening the schism between the two branches of W. Christianity, and it was responsible, at least in part, for the century of religious wars which ended in 1648.


views updated May 23 2018

Counter-Reformation Revival of the Roman Catholic Church in Europe during the 16th and early 17th centuries. It began as a reaction to the Protestant Reformation and was intended to strengthen the Church against Protestantism and the prevailing humanism of the Renaissance. The reforms were essentially conservative, trying to remove many of the abuses that had crept into the late medieval church and win new prestige for the papacy. The major impetus for reform emerged from the pontificate of Paul III and the founding of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits). The Council of Trent (1545–63) was the engine of the Counter-Reformation. It eradicated simony (such as the sale of indulgences), standardized Roman Catholic theology, and undertook institutional reforms. The second phase (1563–90) of the Counter-Reformation was administered by Pius V, Gregory XIII and Sixtus V. See also Campion; Vincent de Paul


views updated May 23 2018

Counter-Reformation the reform of the Church of Rome in the 16th and 17th centuries which was stimulated by the Protestant Reformation. Measures to oppose the spread of the Reformation were resolved on at the Council of Trent (1545–63) and the Jesuit order became the spearhead of the Counter-Reformation, both within Europe and abroad. Although most of northern Europe remained Protestant, southern Germany and Poland were brought back to the Roman Catholic Church.


views updated May 29 2018

Coun·ter-Ref·or·ma·tion the reform of the Church of Rome in the 16th and 17th centuries that was stimulated by the Protestant Reformation.

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