A look at some of the history and holidays on December 4
Feast of Giovanni Calabria, a 20th century Catholic Priest who dedicated his life to easing the plight of the poor and ill. He establshed several religious institutions, corresponded in Latin with C.S. Lewis, and during WWII, helped to hide a female Jewish Doctor from the Nazi’s in a nunnery which he oversaw.
1563 – Reformation & Counter Reformation: The Council of Trent
The Church, aware of its problems of corruption, had addressed some of the issues in the 1517 Fifth Council of the Lateran, but it was too little, too late. On 31 October 1517, the Catholic Priest, Martin Luther, famously nailed his 95 Theses to the door of All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg, setting in motion the chain of events that led to the Protestant Reformation. Many of Luther’s criticisms of corruption within the Church were valid, with one of the most visible being the sale of indulgences by Pope Leo X to fund the renovation of St. Peter’s Basilica. Indulgences were a grant of dispensation from divine punishments, often for certain good acts, but increasingly during the Middle Ages, indulgences were sold to bring wealth to the Church. As one cynic of the era put it, “As soon as the coin in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory springs.”
The Protestant movement quickly gained momentum and the support of various nobles throughout Europe. Pope Paul III convened the Council of Trent in 1545, ostensibly to heal the breach between the growing body of Protestant reformers and the Catholic Church. The Council would meet 25 times, with the last meeting occurring on this date in 1563. When it was clear that the breach between Catholics and Protestants would not be healed, the Council became “the embodiment of the Counter Reformation.” The council ended with a condemnation of Protestant heresies and a clarification of Catholic dogma. Further, the Council addressed many of the issues of corruption raised by Luther and instituted other reforms. Ultimately, the Council rejected Matin Luther’s central thesis, that faith alone decided one’s fate, while the Catholic Church clarified its position that both faith and good works were necessary for salvation. Both the Reformation and the Counter Reformation would significantly impact the course of European history in the 16th through the 18th century, and we are still very much living with its reverberations today.