The Counter-Reformation

The Council of Trent was the ecumenical council of the Roman Catholic Church that convened from 1545 to 1563. In response to the Protestant Reformation, key statements and clarifications regarding church doctrine, teaching, and practice were prepared. These included pronouncements on the Biblical canon, original sin, justification, sacraments, baptism, the Eucharist, penance, the veneration of saints, and indulgences. The official decrees of the Council of Trent, first collected and printed in Rome in 1564, were republished in more than 110 editions before 1600 in Italy, Spain, the Low Countries, France, and Portugal.

Advancing the declarations and resolutions of the Council of Trent, the Catholic Church initiated a publication program throughout Europe in direct response to Martin Luther and his successors. This dissemination of approved doctrine included Catholic catechisms and a new version of the Latin Vulgate Bible as well as extensive lists of prohibited authors and works. The use of printed illustrations in books and on broadsides to assist in promoting the Catholic agenda was a significant element of this extensive campaign responding to Luther in the age of print.