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The Council of Trent (Latin: Concilium Tridentinum), held between 1545 and 1563 in Trento (Trent) and Bologna, northern Italy, was one of the Catholic Church's most important ecumenical councils. Prompted by the Protestant Reformation, it has been described as the embodiment of the Counter-Reformation. Four hundred years later, when Pope John XXIII initiated preparations for the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II), he affirmed the decrees it had issued: "What was, still is."
As well as decrees, the Council issued condemnations of what it defined to be heresies committed by Protestantism and, in response to them, key statements and clarifications of the Church's doctrine and teachings. These addressed a wide range of subjects, including scripture, the Biblical canon, sacred tradition, original sin, justification, salvation, the sacraments, the Mass and the veneration of saints. The Council met for twenty-five sessions between 13 December 1545 and 4 December 1563, all in Trento (then the capital of the Prince-Bishopric of Trent in the Holy Roman Empire), apart from the ninth to eleventh sessions held in Bologna during 1547. Pope Paul III, who convoked the Council, presided over these and the first eight sessions (1545–47), while the twelfth to sixteenth sessions (1551–52) were overseen by Pope Julius III and the seventeenth to twenty-fifth sessions (1559–63) by Pope Pius IV.