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Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble:

for the day of the LORD cometh, for it is nigh at hand, Joel 2:1.

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Monday, 7 January 2019

Rome's Counter-Reformation Tactics #6 Indoctrination - Baroque Art

Over the centuries, since 1517, Rome has employed many different tactics and strategies. Sometimes she has been like a ravenous wild beast devouring all before her. At other times she has been as subtle as the devil himself in administering the wine of her fornication to deceive gullible Protestants. All with the aim of destroying and reversing the Protestant Reformation.

Strategy Six - Indoctrination - Baroque Art.
Romanism decided at the time of the Council of Trent that the 'Arts' should be employed to combat the spread of Protestant truth. Included in the degrees of the Council of Trent were pronouncements on the use of the 'Arts' for religious purposes. After all, the Catholic Church was a leading 'Arts' patron across much of Europe. Areas where Catholicism predominated, such as, architecture and painting, and to a lesser extent music, would be used to reflect Counter-Reformation goals.

The 'Arts' it was degreed should therefore propagate the beliefs and practices of the Church. To the fore in this strategy were individuals such as Ignatius of Loyola, Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Francis de Sales and Philip Neri.

'Catholic Biblical Art' was therefore developed to highlight the theological differences between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism, by focusing on the mysteries of the faith, as well as the roles of the Virgin Mary and the Saints.

Romish Principles
A number of specific principles featured in this attempt to counter the Reformation:
1. Artists should focus on the distinctive aspects of Catholic dogma, including: The Immaculate Conception, The Annunciation of the Virgin, The Transfiguration of Christ, and others. Also, any explicit portrayal of Christ's suffering and agony on the Cross was deemed to be especially uplifting, and also served to illustrate the Catholic doctrine of Transubstantiation in the Eucharist.

The roles of the Virgin Mary, the Saints and the Sacraments were also a distinctive feature of Catholicism and were to be illustrated accordingly. To combat Protestant attacks on the saints and Mary, artists were to focus explicitly on the Virgin Mary. Mary's innocence, kindness, and mourning for Christ were to be depicted. 

2. This new form of 'Catholic Art' should encourage piety, obedience, praise, and humbleness, thus artists should paint and sculpt scenes of appropriate spiritual intensity. 

3. So that paintings and statues were as understandable and as relevant to ordinary people, as possible, this form of 'Art' was to be powerful, direct and compelling in its narrative presentation, and should be rendered in a clear, accurate fashion, without unnecessary or imaginary embellishments. 

Baroque Era of Art
This use of the 'Arts' developed what became known as the Baroque era where realism and emotion dominated art style. The goal was part of the Counter-Reformation strategy. In Rome with the likes of Bernini and in Flanders with Peter Paul Rubens, the aim was was to restore Catholicism's predominance and centrality. Some painters, such as Federico Barocci (1526-1612) changed their style of painting to comply with the Council of Trent.

Rome used ‘Baroque Art’ to portray the power and spirituality of the Roman Church as a force for good, and reinforced Romish doctrine in the mind of adherents. These works of art could be viewed by all in churches, cathedrals, and other public places. The style began around 1600 in Rome and  Italy, and soon spread to most of Europe.

The Baroque period saw an artistic style developed that used exaggerated motion and clear, easily interpreted detail to produce drama, tension, exuberance, and grandeur in sculpture, painting, architecture, literature, dance, theatre, and music.

Strategy Enacted
Aided and abetted by the newly-formed Jesuit order, this desire to counter the Reformation and revitalise Catholicism across Europe saw the Roman Church begin commissioning new architecture, works of altarpiece art, mostly large-scale oil paintings, inspirational church fresco paintings, and major pieces of ecclesiastical sculpture and wood carving. 

These techniques were employed throughout Europe, especially in areas like France, southern Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Bohemia and Hungary. 

Thus Rome sought to make an impression on the minds of her adherents by visual arts rather than by the preaching of the Gospel. Just another in a long line of schemes to counter the Reformation.

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