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Rome Reports

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Popes of the councils: exhibition displaying those who reformed Catholic Church

There were three great councils of the modern era: Trent, Vatican I and Vatican II.

Each of them resulted in a turning point for the Church, and this exhibition in Rome shows the faces of the main players: the popes.

Paul III convoked the Council of Trent to face the Protestant Reformation. It was an event also characterized by art. The artists of the time received clear guidelines to help share the faith to the people with their works, and thus, stop the advancement of Protestantism.

"The popes of the Councils” Exhibition
"Art was like television in our day. In those times, people were taught through images."

The Director of the Roman National Museum explains that the 30 exhibited works show the atmosphere that was breathed in the Eternal City during the conciliar years.

It was the first time some of the works had been exposed to the public as objects used during Vatican Council I. It was convened by Pius IX in the second half of the 19th century and was the famous council where the dogma of Papal Infallibility was proclaimed.

The Second Vatican Council, however, brought more recent portraits and audiovisual works, such as the famous “Moonlight Speech.” They were the heartfelt words by John XXIII on the opening night of the Council.

"My children, I hear your voices. Mine is only a single voice. But it summarizes the voice of the whole world. Here all the world is represented. One might even say that the moon rushed here this evening."

The exhibition is at Capitoline Hill in Rome, and was organized to coincide with the canonization of Paul VI in October 2018.