Catholic Reformation

The reformation first came about in the 14th century as the Catholic church attempted to centralize its power.

This map provides a general idea of how vast the Roman Catholic states were during the beginning of the Reformation.

It became fairly obvious to the Papacy that consolidation was necessary in order to establish peace among the Catholic states. However local Kings strongly rejected this notion. They wanted a less powerful Pope, who was less likely to check their power.

What is also evident in the map above, is that this is after the Protestant Reformation. As we can see the rapid growth of Lutherans and Calvinists. In retaliation to this, the Catholic church began their own reformation.

This "Counter-Reformation" was lead by Ignatius Loyola, who wrote the doctrine 'Spiritual Exercises'

There were four main elements to the Reformation which were referred to in the 'Spiritless Exercises'.

  • Empty oneself of pride and desires
  • Remove individual personality
  • Imitation of Christ under suprevision
  • Ethical goal to teach humanity

These elements played in to the broader movements across the entire Roman Catholic Church which were:

  • Restructuring of Religious Orders
  • Spiritual Movements
  • Structural Restructuring (including Doctrines)
  • Defining Political Dimensions

The two most important factors of the Reform movement could possibly be the Council of Trent which took place in the mid 16th century and helped ignite the Reform movement, as well as the Spiritual Movement involved in the Reformation. This is incredibly important, because it allowed the Catholic Church to achieve a more religious (spiritual) grounding, rather than be caught up in politics as it had been for centuries (and therefore susceptible to corruption). This aspect of the movement I think is what relates most similarly to today's Papacy.

The Council of Trent, which took place from 1545 to 1563

The most important thing to come out of the Council of Trent, was the recognition of many that some form of change was needed (even if many were resigned to change at all). The most significant of these changes being the need for better education, both in theology and art for the priests and public in general.

  1. Fernandez-Armesto, Felipe The World Vol II, 3rd edition. Pearson Education, 2016
  2. The Counter-Reformation. (n.d.). Retrieved February 06, 2017, from
  3. Counter-Reformation. (n.d.). Retrieved February 06, 2017, from


Created with images by Jim, the Photographer - "Confirmation, June 21, 2010"

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