The Catholic Reformation: A Sketch of the Chronology


1. The Unreformed Papacy 1490-1534

Alexander VI   1492-1503.

               A Borgia


Julius II  1503-13


Leo X                1513-21

               Faced the Lutheran challenge             


Hadrian VI    d. 1523 - the last non-Italian pope.


Clement VII 1523-34, a Medici

               1527 - sack of Rome by Imperial forces


2. The Beginnings of Reform 1534-1565

Paul III  1534-49 Alessandro Farnese

               1540, approved Society of Jesus (1534)

               1542, Roman Holy Office, or Inquisition

               1545, beginning of Council of Trent

               Major figures: St. Ignatius Loyola 1491-1556


Julius III  1550-55

               1553 - England briefly returned to the Church under Queen Mary

               1550, new constitution for Jesuits

               1552 Collegium Germanicum established for German priests to restore Catholicism in that country;  also very active in encouraging missions to Indies, Far East and Americas


Paul IV 1555-59

               Leader of reformist party 1530s

               1557, issued Index of Forbidden Books

               Confined Jews in ghettos in Rome, and forced them to wear special clothing


Pius IV 1559-1565

               more liberal, restricted Inquisition

               1560, made Charles Borromeo  cardinal


Reconvened Council of Trent, suspended since 1552. Conclusions issued 1562-63:

1. Scripture includes Apocrypha

2. Baptism takes away original sin

3. Christ died for all but benefit only to those to whom it is communicated - Grace inspires people to approach God, and can accept or reject

4. purgatory reaffirmed

5. rejection of  priesthood of all believers

6. seven sacraments and transubstantiation reaffirmed

7. clergy forgive and retain sins

8. acceptance of saints, relics, sacred images and indulgences



3. The Height of the Reform Era 1565-1620

Pius V                1566-72

               Supported by Charles Borromeo and rigorist party

               Revised catechism, missal, breviary, all c 1566-72.

               1571, Battle of Lepanto -formed Holy League, with Spain and Venice.

               Major figures: St Francis Borgia 1510-1572; St Charles Borromeo 1538-1584


Gregory XIII 1572-1585

               Several new colleges at Rome, including (1572), Roman College (Gregorian University); English College 1579; also Greek, Maronite, Armenian, Hungarian colleges

               Supported Teresa of AvilaÕs discalced Carmelites, 1580; and Philip NeriÕs Oratorians

               1578, catacombs discovered

               1582, Gregorian calendar introduced

               Major figures: St. Philip Neri 1515-1595; St. Teresa of Avila   1515-1582.


Sixtus V 1585-90

               supported missionary efforts in Philippines, Japan, China, South America


Clement VIII 1592-1605

               1596, ban on Jewish books

               1600, sent Giordano Bruno to the stake

               1595-96, accepted treaty of Brest Litovsk, allowing Orthodox in Poland to join church while keeping their own liturgy, as Uniates

               1600, great jubilee in Rome - height of reformed papacy.

               major figures: St. Robert Bellarmine 1542-1621.


Paul V               1605-21

               1606, Venice under Interdict - had forbidden new churches.

               1615, allowed use of vernacular liturgy in China

               major figures: St. Francis de Sales 1567-1622


4. The Age of Decline 1620-1680

Gregory XV 1621-23

               Time of Thirty Years War


Urban VIII     1623-44

               1633, Galileo forced to abandon Copernican system

               major figures: St Vincent de Paul 1580-1660


Innocent X      1644-55

               1654, Christina of Sweden converted to Catholicism


Alexander VII 1655-67

               1656, supported liberal Jesuit position on Chinese ceremonies


Innocent XI    1676-1689.

               Beatified. Greatest of seventeenth century popes.

               major figures: St Margaret Mary Alacoque 1647-1690