With the conference "Trent and its Impact" on November 7th & 8th, 2013, Georgetown University celebrated the 450th anniversary of the closing of the Council of Trent on December 4, 1563. The council was both an answer to the Reformation and an attempt to reform the Catholic Church. It had an extraordinarily troubled history that extended over eighteen years and that involved emperors, kings and queens, and five popes. Directly and indirectly, the council had an immense impact not only on Catholics and other Christians but on almost every aspect of western culture. Its successful conclusion marked the beginning, therefore, of what is often referred to as the Tridentine Era in Catholicism—an era that lasted until the mid-twentieth century with the Vatican Council II.
The Georgetown conference brought together a group of distinguished scholars to examine the council from the perspectives of their respective disciplines. It opened with brief introductions to the council and a performance of Palestrina’s Missa Papae Marcelli (Pope Marcellus Mass), which has long been described as having saved the council from prohibiting polyphony.