The sixteenth century in Europe was an axial period in history. Major changes were taking place in society, and in the midst of much strife there was also creativity. The Renaissance was giving way to more serious Christian theology, and the question of education was to receive a major leap forward with the foundation of a number of Teaching Orders. While the great events of the day might have been seen as diets, synods, the Council of Trent and wars, a creative initiative took place within the schools which was to be a major factor in creating a Christian heart in the classroom.
To look at this in the context of Church history, I propose a glance first at the long tradition of guilds, confraternities and sodalities; then at the events of 1563; then the spread and development of the confraternities, and finally the question of what lessons these developments hold for us today.