As in the period that followed the Council of Trent (1545 - 1563), the Catholic Church has redefined herself following the Second Vatican Council. In both the sixteenth and twentieth centuries changes in church architecture accompanied reforms to the liturgy, and today we are still trying to come to terms with attempts to redefine our sacred space. One way to evaluate contemporary churches is to understand the model that so many of them react against, which had been developed after Trent. However historians still debate the significance of that historical architecture; indeed, they disagree about its very qualities.
John Alexander is an architectural historian (Ph.D., University of Virginia, 2001) who concentrates on the architectural patronage of Carlo Borromeo, and the architecture of the post-Tridentine Catholic Church. Fellowships and teaching positions afforded him several years in Rome, and his research takes him back to Milan and northern Italy regularly; since 2006 he has been on the faculty in the Department of Architecture at the University of Texas at San Antonio.