The Index of Prohibited Books
The Index librorum prohibitorum (“Index of Prohibited Books”) was a direct outcome of the Concilium Tridentinum, or Council of Trent, the ecumenical council of the Roman Catholic Church that convened from 1545 to 1563. The Tridentine councilors reasserted many traditional dogmas that had been challenged by Protestant reformers, including transubstantiation, justification by good works, and the role of the Virgin Mary as intercessor. In 1546, the fourth Tridentine session determined which books of the Latin Bible were canonical and decreed that only the Catholic Church was authorized to interpret Scripture. In 1562, the eighteenth session mandated that a special conciliar commission would examine the growing problem of heretical literature. The Council’s action resulted in the publication of the first Tridentine Index librorum prohibitorum in 1564. Although it had been preceded by Spanish indexes beginning in 1551 and the Pauline Index published in Rome in 1559, the Tridentine Index, backed by the authority of the Council of Trent, initiated four centuries of rigorous censorial control within Catholic realms.