Nothing too much to do with Catholiscism, except it seemed to flourish in Recusant houses in England, until the end of the Stuarts. Maybe its subtle, mournful sound reflected their mood more than the bright vulgarity of the violin family. (The adjectives are meant to be controversial and reflect the authors rabid tradiness).
And here for early music nerds is a baryton, a viola da gamba with added pluckable strings, being played, I have never heard one before. I just happened to find on You Tube when looking for viola da gambas .