Counter Reformation: Diocesan reform and new orders

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  • Counter Reformation: Diocesan reform and new orders
    • Reform initiatives originated at Trent
      • would redefine and rejuvenate Catholic doctrine and practice
    • Reform at level of diocese
      • new breed of reforming bishops aimed to raise moral and educational standards
        • achieve this whilst tightening ecclesiastical discipline and regulating forms of lay piety which had been allowed freer rein in later Middle Ages
      • According to Headley and Tomaro
        • Model was Charles Borromeo, archbishop of Milan (1564-84)
          • His Acta Ecclesiae Mediolanensis (Acts of the Church of Milan) set out an ambitious reform programme
      • Due to Charles Borromeo
        • In Milan and elsewhere, traditionally strong quasi-independent bodies such as Fraternities and lay devotional groups were subsumed within revitalised diocese
      • Religious education
        • Trent deemed it parental duty to send children to parish priest for catechism classes on Sundays and holy days
        • Previously lax
      • Stronger expectation all laity should attend mass on Sundays and holy days and receive sacraments - only from their parish priest - at least once a year at Easter
      • Practice of confession in particular became stricter
        • especially with invention (attributed to Borromeo) and rapid diffusion of secret and secure confessional box
      • Secular uses of churches and churchyards
        • Were discouraged
      • Local religious celebrations banned if they contained 'superstitious' elements of which reforming clergy disapproved
      • Bossy argues
        • Trent's regulation of lay participation in devotional practices served to extinguish much of vitality of medieval Christianity
      • Sheer exuberance and emotional intensity of much of religious art and architecture of Catholic reform period points to new possibilities for lay experience of the sacred
    • New Orders
      • Required to promulgate the Tridentine canons across Europe
        • New religious orders proved invaluable for this
        • Not enough people in dioceses or parishes to achieve this
      • Included:
        • Reformed branch of Franciscans known as Capuchins
        • Lazarists
          • founded by Frenchman, Vincent de Paul (1581-1660)
      • Missions to rural France and Italy (according to Hsia)
        • Regularly undertaken throughout C17th
        • Undertaken by Lazarists and other orders
        • Descended into groups on villages to rouse religious sensibilities of the inhabitants with:
          • dramatic processions
          • religious plays
          • emotional preaching
      • female orders revived
        • new orders of nuns
          • e.g. Ursulines and Visitandines
          • founded to nurse poor and sick
        • ecclesiastical authorities became uneasy with concept of public female ministry
          • strict enclosure was forced on female orders in course of C17th
      • Jesuits
        • Society of Jesus
        • By far most influential of new orders
        • Founded by Spaniard Ignatius Loyola (1491-1556) in 1534
          • Key figure in emergence of militant Catholic Reformation
          • His 'Spiritual Exercises' (1548) both taught a technique of meditative prayer and instilled an unquestioning obedience to authority of Church
        • Sanctioned by Paul III in 1540
        • Combining discipline of traditional religious orders with commitment to itinerant activism in world
          • Jesuits excelled in preaching, teaching and missionary activity
        • Particularly influential in education
          • First school opened in 1548, and by 1615 there were 370 such institutions
          • Jesuits provided free education to poor
          • Also served as educators in elite
            • e.g. philosophers, Justus Lipsius and Rene Descartes were graduates of their college
        • Linked to Pope by special oath of loyalty
          • Jesuits would serve as confessors to monarchs and emperors
            • often arousing jealousy and resentment from fellow Catholics as well as hatred of Protestants


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