Friday, July 31, 2015

Reformation, Counter-Reformation and St. Ignatius of Loyola

“THAT SEVERANCE of England from Europe and from Christendom was, I have said, the pivotal matter of the Protestant advance. On it the partial success of the religious revolution everywhere depended. Hence the necessity for beginning by an understanding of the English tragedy, failing which the disruption of Europe and all our modern chaos would never have appeared.

“It was coincidentally with the beginning of the turn over in England, with the second half of the sixteenth century, that there began that effort against the shipwreck, which I have said, is generally called “The Counter-Reformation.”

"Vigorous Popes undertook, unfortunately too late, the reforms of abuses; the Franciscans took on a new missionary activity for the recovery of districts lost to the Faith; a General Council (which Popes before the Reformation had especially avoided because only a little while before, General Councils had proved so dangerous to unity) was summoned and is known to history as “The Council of Trent.”  The most important single factor in the whole of this reaction was the militant and highly disciplined body proceeding from the genius of St. Ignatius of Loyola. It came to be known by the name which was first a nickname, but later generally adopted, of “the Jesuits.” These, by their discipline, singleness of aim and heroism, were the spearhead of the counter-attack. They were nearly successful in England, they had very great effect on South Germany, and later in Poland. All these forces, combined, made for a general restoration of Catholicism."

~Hilaire Belloc: Characters of the Reformation, Chap. I.—Nature of the Reformation.

St. Ignatius Loyola (detail), by Juan Martínez Montañés.
Polychromed wood, c. 1610; Chapel, Seville University.

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