The papal court under the rule of Pope Paul III brought many changes to the way people viewed the church. Paul started to appoint cardinals, bishops, and abbots that advocated for new reforms. The papal court concentrated its efforts on creating a different image for the church by establishing new religious orders. Paul and his followers worked towards “ending wordiness and immorality at the papal court” and adopting new tax rules and regulations (Wiesner-Hanks 187). Moreover, they opened new seminaries to train priests and enforced strict rules for seminary members to follow. The papal court decided to become the center of the reform movement in order to respond to the Protestant’s challenges.
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The Catholic Reformation allowed women to participate in the Catholic religious sphere more prominently than ever before. A group of women, called Ursulines, decided to treat the sick and tend to the poor, while also providing education for girls. After being approved by the Pope, this group focused mostly on its mission to educate young women. Many parts of this order were pressured to end their public mission and become cloistered nuns. While some members opposed these rules, others accepted their fate believing that their place is inside the convent. However, most Ursulines continued to educate girls. The Catholic Reformation also affected the number of female saints. Women were not allowed to participate in the central operations of the church of that period, which included mitigating the conflicts with Protestants. Many of the saints of that time period were travelers that spread their religion to other territories, while women were mostly denied in their desire to serve as missionaries except for a few persons.
It is possible that France became the center of many religious conflicts due to a number of reasons. First of all, France’s recent participation in a series of wars significantly damaged the state of the country’s economy, which led to French monarchs making a treaty with the papacy that expanded their financial possibilities. Secondly, one of the major influencers, Calvin, was French of origin. His texts and speeches were in French. They affected many people and created additional tension between different religious groups.
Teachings of Teresa of Avila
Teresa of Avila called Lutherans a sect and viewed their operations in France as a danger for the Catholic Church. The increasing popularity of Lutherans troubled her the most. However, she did not offer any solutions that would require any violent actions. Her propositions were mostly connected to praying and following “the evangelical counsels as perfectly as [she] could” (Saint Teresa of Avila). Furthermore, she encouraged her fellow nuns to stop people from asking God to bring them material wealth and guide them not to “pray for worldly things” (Saint Teresa of Avila). Teresa argued that God would not listen to such prayers and ignore their words.
Teresa of Avila saw virtue in poverty because she believed that nuns should not be burdened by thoughts about food or income. She saw an inconsistency in religious followers having desires for material needs and possessions. Teresa outlined that by embracing the life that was devoid of material possessions one’s “spirit was devoid of all restraint” (Saint Teresa of Avila). Furthermore, Teresa spoke about the connection between money and honor, arguing the society could not perceive the poor men as honorable people. However, if a person would be poor because of their choice and dedication to God, then he or she would have a different kind of honor recognized by God.
Saint Bartholomew’s Day Massacre
Protestants and Catholics gathered in Paris to attend the wedding of Margaret, king’s sister, and Henry of Navarre. Paris was mostly Catholic at the time, and the wedding was held between people of two different religious groups because Henry was a Protestant. The tensions rose because of the two religious sides coming together during the religious war that overcame France. Protestants were attacked by extreme Catholics, who were enraged by Protestants coming to the city. Catholics were led by the Duke of Guise. The marriage was also a factor that played into the progression of the massacre. Furthermore, Catholics wanted to “exterminate all the Protestants,” except for the king of Navarre due to the “reason of the royal dignity and the new alliance” (De Thou). However, many other prominent Protestant figures were in danger.
Gaspar de Coligny was one of the persons to be attacked during the massacre. He was a French Protestant admiral that actively participated in the religious wars that took place at that time. According to De Thou, Coligny reacted to the attack in a surprisingly calm manner. The admiral prayed before being ambushed by captains of the “Catholic Swiss mercenaries” (De Thou). Coligny opened the door for the assailants and answered when asked his name honestly. While his death was rather gruesome, he did not say anything during his last moments. De Thou wrote about one of the captains saying that “he never saw anyone less afraid in so great a peril, nor die more steadfastly.” Coligny became the symbol of the massacre because of the way he died and his response to the attack. While the murderers were cruel and violent, his behavior was calm and collected. Furthermore, his high status also played a significant role in the situation.
De Thou, Jacques-Auguste. “The Massacre of St. Bartholomew’s Day, Aug. 24, 1572.” Fordham University, 2017,Web.
Saint Teresa of Avila. “Way of Perfection.” Christian Classics Ethereal Library, 2017, Web.
Wiesner-Hanks, Merry E. Early Modern Europe, 1450-1789. 2nd ed., Cambridge University Press, 2013.