Time: December 4, 1563
Place: Church of Santa Maria Maggiore, Trent (modern Trento), Italy
The Protestant Reformation had left the Pope’s Catholic Church in disarray. Clerical abuses had been identified and attacked; doctrines challenged; and the papacy itself under siege. The worst of it was that the Catholic Church had announced no official position on the theological issues the Protestants had raised.
A council of all the leaders of the church had first met here 18 years earlier in 1545. At first, it was contemplated that “the church” would have the widest meaning to include Protestant leaders as well as Catholics in order to bring about compromise and reconciliation. It was not to be.
The Council met and recessed three times over the years. It became a strictly Catholic affair, the Protestant representatives being frozen out. In the end, it reformed abuses and met the doctrinal issues with clarity and authority. The Catholic leaders marched out of the cathedral with confidence and purpose. The faithful throughout Europe picked up this spirit.
The Counter-Reformation was begun.
More information: Wikipedia.