Borromeo: Epitomy of Trent
After the terrible period of depraved Popes and decadent churchmen there arose men like Borromeo. It must have appeared that Christ and his saints slept, I am sure many good Christians were brought near despair, then as if from the tomb Christ awoke.
“What good thing came out of the Protestant Reformation: why – the Glorious Counter-Reformation”, as one Oxford preacher said a decade or two ago.
This is no idle Catholic boast, it is not just about art an architecture, it is about ‘holiness’. I can’t help thinking about the young Seminary Priests, leaving Rome where they might well have met St Philip Neri, St Ignatius of Loyola, St Francis Xavier perhaps, St Paul of the Cross, many travelled up through Italy to call in to see Borromeo, many would made a detour to Geneva to receive the blessing of St Francis De Salles, before coming to England or other parts of Europe to suffer death and reveal their own heroic sanctity.
In there northward journey one suspects like sought like and they would have sought out and been sought by other holy men. St Charles however seemed to hold a special place, he seemed even for his contemporaries to epitomise the Council of Trent held between 1545 and 1563, he was the model of a reforming post-Trent bishop.
There is much that Trent did but like other Councils it was expected to produce fruit, not just peace to a troubled, disunited and confused Church but also to produce a new flourishing in the Church’s mission and her structures, ultimately holy men and women.
I am not sure that Vatican II, or even the foreshortened Vatican I, has produced the same fruit as Trent, there appear to be less flourishing, less saintly men and women, less zealous priests and bishops and less clear thinking members of the Papal Court than there were once.
Perhaps it is too early to tell.