ROME, THE ESCORIAL, AND VERSAILLES
at Prague with a Church service in Rome, and, as a result of a stroke suffered while he marched in the procession, died hoping that a new Catholic unification o the West would be effected. But the devasta- tion of Europe ended with the realization that both confessions were invincible, and that the dream of a Spanish world Empire was over. The powers reached a peace without giving heed to the protest of the Curia against the losses inflicted upon the Church. With the close of the century the second epoch of a universal Papacy was also at an end: the magnificent attempt by the Counter-reformation to enfold the whole of Europe once more in the unity of the Church and its cultural program had failed. Catholic countries, too, fell during the subsequent age of absolutism into subservience to the state and bothered very little about the will or the advice of the Vatican Sovereign as they lived en through the twilight diffused by their ruling princes. But even so the Pope did not cease to govern the Church, nor did the Church cease to grow exteriorly when it could not take deeper root; and some- times out of the depths themselves out of the misery of hearts laden with care there came a cry for faith and for the decisions of Papal authority. Missionary activities, the struggle with absolutism, and the religious movements inside the Church were the major con- cern of the pontificates of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
Gregory XV (16211623), himself a tired old man, was fortunate enough to be able to entrust Papal affairs to young and diligent hands. His nephew Lodovico Ludovici, a cardinal of princely bearing, was responsible for almost everything accomplished during this brief reign. In exchange for Rome's help in gaining for him the title of Prince- Elector, the ruler of Bavaria presented the rich library of Heidelberg to the Vatican. And the finally completed Basilica of St, Peter's with Maderna's facade served, as did later on Bernini's double colonnade which opens like arms spread wide to welcome the world, as a symbol of the confident hope with which the Papacy now undertook the con- quest of continents across the seas, despite all the losses suffered north of the Alps, in both Eastern and Western Europe. The work of the "Propagation of the Faith" had been inaugurated half a century pre- vious; but now Girolamo de Narni, the great Roman preacher and Capuchin, conceived the idea of developing this institute into a centre for all missionary activities.