CATI DA IESI, Pasquale

The Council of Trent

Santa Maria in Trastevere, Rome

This fresco was painted by Pasquale Cati da Iesi, a pupil of Michelangelo. The represented Council is sometimes called the Tridentine Council, after the Latin name for the city, Tridentum. The coat of arms on the left wall behind the cardinals in red is that of Pius IV, the pope at the time of the closing of the Council.

Long after the closing of the Council of Trent its importance was underscored in a didactic and journalistic fresco painted as part of an otherwise elegant and classicising decorative program for a chapel in Santa Maria in Trastevere for one of Rome's leading churchmen, Cardinal Marco Sittico Altemps. Participants in the Council session are spread row upon row across the top of the composition, their faces directed forward or turned in profile as if to record as completely and accurately as possible the individual members. At the lower right of this pictorial chronicle of the event, however, allegorical personifications of the virtues crown a figure representing the Roman Church with a papal tiara. A globe at the lower left shows Europe, Africa, and parts of Asia. Thus the Church appears not only victorious, but extending far beyond Europe, where Protestantism had recently made such dramatic inroads.