The Schools of Christian Doctrine taught the fundamentals of Catholicism, and reading and writing, to a very large number of boys and girls in sixteenth-century Italy. Numerous laymen and laywomen gave up their holiday leisure in order to teach in these schools. The Schools of Christian Doctrine were a significant feature of the Catholic Reformation, a broad movement of Catholic renewal that began before 1517 and whose major initiatives were not necessarily responses to the Protestant Reformation. New religious orders, missionary activity, the founding of institutions to care for the sick, poor, and homeless, and a general effort to teach and preach to the laity more effectively characterized the Catholic Reformation. Ignatius Loyola, Francis Xavier, and others provided leadership and were canonized in later centuries. Scholars have given all of the above a good deal of attention, but probably only specialists are aware of the Schools of Christian Doctrine.