At Trent Like the Fathers of Old

Trent painting.jpg
this painting depicts third-session meetings in Santa Maria Maggiore

Your unworthy servant has traveled up the valley of the River Adige, to the region where the second language (after Italian) is no longer English, but German.

The Fathers of the Council of Trent did not have Trenitalia to transport them. The mendicant friars who advised the bishops likely came on foot, from their homes further south in Italy.

Upon arrival at Trent, all the participants of the Council would have had to gain access to the city through a gate in the walls:

trent wall

They visited the relics of the martyr-patron of Trent, St. Vigilius.

st vigilius relics
this altar and reliquary didn’t exist during the Council, but the bones inside were here

…in the medieval Duomo…

Piazza Duomo

During the first sessions of the Council, they met in the choir area of the cathedral.

meeting area duomo.jpg
the current high altar, baldachin, and statue of St. Vigilius would not have sat here during the Council; it would have been a wide-open area, suitable for the erection of wooden stalls
back of the trent duomo.jpg
the outside of this part of the Duomo

…I have spent the past six months reading as widely as possible about the Council of Trent. I have thought almost endlessly about it. And I hardly know where to begin.

I was feeling utterly inadequate to the task of trying to understand this subject. Which made me feel pretty bad about myself. Then I read these words of a thoroughly respectable historian, regarding the Council of Trent:

It lasted eighteen years; and never, probably, in the annals of mankind has there been enacted a drama demanding so large an erudition, so subtle a power of analysis, and so patient a development of exposition in the historian who would satisfactorily relate all the details of its progress, elucidate all the motives and policy of the numerous personages who took part in it or influenced its decisions; paint in their proper colors the diverse passions and aims which, checking, clashing, and thwarting each other, contributed to the general result; and draw out the clear stream of an intelligible narrative from the mass of documents, immense and yet imperfect, in which all this is to be found. The difficulty and extent of the subject is so great, that the labors of the historians who have treated of it have still left a sufficiently arduous task to such readers of their works as would attain to a full comprehension of the story.

Made me feel a little better about my own inadequacies. So, for now, just a few more pictures….

Some of the Fathers would have had this rose window to look at during the speeches…

rose window duomo trent.jpg

Other would have looked down one of the side aisles…

duomo trent side aisle

As you can see, they are renovating the Duomo.

The Council met under a crucifix. The church of Trent has kept the crucifix; they built a chapel for it in the Duomo; it now serves as the ‘relic’ of the Council.

Trent council crucifix

Later on during the Council, they moved the meetings to another local church, Santa Maria Maggiore.

santa maria maggiore trent

…Honestly, I can hardly believe that I actually find myself at the very place where the Council of Trent occurred. The Council has, in more ways than I can recognize, defined my life.

More to come, dear reader, as the Lord moves me. I miss you, my beloved friends back home.

9 thoughts on “At Trent Like the Fathers of Old

  1. Thanks for the photos. I wonder what the frescoes on the arches look like then. Eighteen years to heal our Church before, and then the enforcement of how many years. I spent most the day looking at defective bottles that cannot be capped and ruin a factory floor. The reason found and corrections take a few days. Magnitude and importance seem parallel here.

  2. Fr Mark , we miss you too ! Hope to come down for Mass after you return and visit with you . Thank you for sharing your pilgrimage , it fills my heart to have the smallest understanding of the enormity of what this council did for us .

  3. Hope you know that your friends at home miss you also, Fr. Mark. How very special this trip is for you comes through so wonderfully in your writings. And the photographs are beautiful! May God bless you as you continue your journey. Looking forward to “more to come.”
    Judy R.

  4. Thanks for educating us on the Council of Trent. I dare say that most of us don’t know much about it. We, who read your blog, do now.
    Beautiful photos! Stay safe. Praying for you.

  5. Father visiting the seedbed of the brilliant and beautiful fruit of the Council Fathers. That snippet of wordsmithery sounds like Jefferson, but as a Deist, I doubt he would gush like that. Enlighten us….

  6. You honor Trent as I do. I have a very mixed family as well. God bless your soul and all the souls you lead to Heaven!

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