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Counter-Reformation facts for kids

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The Counter-Reformation was a movement within the Roman Catholic Church. Its main aim was to reform and improve it. It was initiated in response to the Protestant Reformation at the time.

It began with the Council of Trent (1545–1563) and largely ended with the conclusion of the European wars of religion in 1648.

Its first period is called the Catholic Reformation. It had many features. They covered the following five areas:

  1. Doctrine
  2. Ecclesiastical or Structural Reconfiguration
  3. Religious Orders
  4. Spiritual Movements
  5. Political Dimensions

The Counter-Reformation began after Martin Luther's reformation, which made the many Protestant Churches. Its name was the Protestant Reformation. In reaction to it, the Catholics did two things. They doubled their efforts, and they also stressed some points of faith that the Protestants' objections had put in danger such as the reinforcement of the seven sacraments and their beliefs on transubstantiation.

Key events

Key events of the period include:

Council of Trent

Council Trent
A session of the Council of Trent, from an engraving

Pope Paul III (1534–1549) is considered the first pope of the Counter-Reformation. He initiated the Council of Trent (1545–1563) to address the problems of the Catholic Church.

The council:

  • recommended that the form of Mass should be standardised, and this took place in 1570, when Pope Pius V made the Tridentine Mass obligatory;
  • rejected all compromise with Protestants,
  • restated basic tenets of the Catholic Faith,
  • reaffirmed the traditional fundamentals of the Church.

At the same time, the council made some noticeable changes. For example, it was decide to give better education to parish priests and to teach them Latin.

The Council of Trent attempted to improve the discipline and administration of the Church. The appointment of bishops for political reasons was no longer tolerated.

The Council of Trent gave bishops greater power to supervise all aspects of religious life. Zealous prelates, such as Milan's Archbishop Carlo Borromeo (1538–1584), later canonized as a saint, set an example by visiting the remotest parishes and instilling high standards.

Titelkupfer Index librorum prohibitorum
This 1711 illustration for the Index Librorum Prohibitorum depicts the Holy Ghost supplying the book burning fire.

Baroque art

The Catholic Church was a leading arts patron across much of Europe. The goal of much art in the Counter-Reformation was to restore Catholicism's predominance. This was one of the drivers of the Baroque style that emerged across Europe in the late sixteenth century.

The Council of Trent proclaimed that architecture, painting and sculpture had a role in conveying Catholic ideas about God. Any depiction of Christ's suffering and explicit agony was desirable and proper. While some Protestant reformers were destroying images of saints and whitewashing walls, Catholic reformers reaffirmed the importance of art. They especially encouraged creating the images of the Virgin Mary.

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Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Contrarreforma para niños

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