Skip to Main Content

Vatican II (1962-1965) : Getting Started

Surveys the history of the Second Vatican Council and the sixteen documents it promulgated. Highlights materials that reveal the vision of Catholic faith presented by the Council from a theological perspective.


This guide provides a number of useful resources. Use the tabs above to explore these resources.

  • Finding Books--search for print or electronic books, located in a library or online
  • Finding Articles--good places to start when searching for journal articles
  • Websites--links to websites that may provide supplementary material

Note: Many of the resources listed here are limited to use by members of  The University of St. Thomas community (faculty, staff and students). If you are using the Guide off-campus, it will ask for a brief login to identify yourself as a member of The University of St. Thomas community before you can use these resources.


Profile Photo
Kathryn Burke
O’Shaughnessy-Frey Library | LIB 117
651 962-5027

Off Campus Access


Online databases and electronic journals subscribed to by the UST Libraries are licensed for use by the St. Thomas community ONLY.  Because of this restriction, we need to verify that anyone accessing these databases is a current member of the St. Thomas community.


"It is difficult to say something new about the Second Vatican Council. At the same time, we must always refer back to the Council, which is a duty and a challenge for the Church and for the world. We feel the need to speak about the Council in order to interpret it correctly and defend it from tendentious interpretations."

Pope John Paul II, Crossing the Threshold of Hope, p. 157, 1994.


The second Vatican Council is unquestionably the most significant event for the Roman Catholic Church and Roman Catholic theology in the twentieth century. 

As she attempts to interpret and implement the Second Vatican Council, the Roman Catholic Church is re-examining her relationship with the world, other faiths, and fellow Christians.

This guide surveys the history of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) and the sixteen documents it officially generated. Selected materials are highlighted to help one investigate the vision of Catholic faith presented by the council from a theological perspective. The context of the council will also be treated, along with the visions articulated by Blessed Pope John XIII, who called the council, and Pope Paul VI, who presided over it and promulgated its documents. In addition we will study the council's continuity with the previous Tradition of Catholic theology.

Getting Started - Some Key Resources







 "I want to throw open the windows of the Church so that we can see out and the people can see in." Pope John XXIII

Aggiornamento literally meaning "bringing up to date," was one of the key words used during Vatican II.  It was used to mean a spirit of change and open-mindedness. It was the name given to the pontifical program of Pope John XXIII in a speech he gave on January 25, 1959.  The conciliar document most often associated with the term is Gaudium et Spes.

(The rival term used was "ressourcement" which meant a return to earlier sources, traditions and symbols of the early Church.  Many clergy could be categorized as belonging to either camp. Aggiornamentos were seen as looking to the future in a post-Tridentine Church, while ressourcement members were seen as attempting to look back to the church before Trent for a simpler liturgy and less Rome-orientated leadership style.)

Sacramentum Mundi

Archbishop Aymond Offers ‘10 Ways Vatican II Shapes The Church Today’

Videorecordings - DVDs-Housed in the Media Resources Collection at OSF Library.

Other Helpful Library UST Library Research Guides