While the words ‘triumph’, ‘triumphal’ and ‘triumphant’ are words with a long history, the expression ‘triumphalism’ is a modern invention. It seems to have started its career when first Bishop de Smedt of Belgium and later other speakers used it in their speeches in the early sessions of the Second Vatican Council. Through the innumerable articles and books about the Council it became widely known and became a current expression in the terminology of writers on religious themes. The speed and extent of its success showed that it pointed to the existence of an acute problem in the life of the churches. This problem was clearly stated in a contribution to the council's debate on the nature of the Church by Bishop Laszlo of Eisenstadt.