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§ 25. The Profession of the Tridentine Faith, 1564.

G. C. F. Mohnike: Urkundliche Geschichte der sogenannten Professio Fidei Tridentinæ und einiger andern röm. katholischen Glaubensbekenntnisse, Greifswald, 1822 (310 pp.).

Streitwolf et Klener: Libri Symbolici Ecclesiæ Catholicæ, Gött. 1838, Tom. I. pp. xlv.–li. and 98–100.

Köllner: Symbolik der röm. Kirche, pp. 141–165.

The older literature see in Walch: Biblotheca theol. sel., I. p. 410; and in Köllner, l.c. p. 141.


Next in authority to the decrees of the Council of Trent, or virtually superior to it, stands the Professio Fidei Tridentinæ, or the Creed of Pius IV.184184   The original name was Forma juramenti professionis fidei. In the two papal bulls which published and enjoined the creed, it is called Forma professionis fidei catholicæ, or orthodoxæ fidei. The usual name is Professio fidei Tridentinæ (or P. f. Tridentina, which is properly a misnomer). See Mohnike, l.c. p. 3, and Köllner, 1.c. p. 150.

It was suggested by the Synod of Trent, which in its last two sessions declared the necessity of a binding formula of faith (formula professionis et juramenti) for all dignitaries and teachers of the Catholic Church.185185   Sess. XXV. cap. 2 De Reformatione (p. 439, ed. Richter): 'Cogit temporum calamitas et invalescentium hæresum malitia, ut nihil sit prætermittendum, quod ad populorum ædificationem et catholicæ fidei præsidium videatur posse pertinere. Præcipit igitur sancta synodus patriarchis, primatibus, archiepiscopis, episcopis, et omnibus aliis, qui de jure vel consuetudine in concilio provinciali interesse debent, ut in ipsa prima synodo provinciali, post finem præsentis concilii habenda, ea omnia et singula, quæ ab hac sancta synodo definita et statuta sunt, palam recipiant, nec non veram obedientiam summo Romano Pontifici spondeant et profiteantur, simulque hæreses omnes, a sacris canonibus et generalibus conciliis, præsertimque ab hac eadme synodo damnatas, publice detestentur et anathematizent.' Comp. Sess. XXIV. De Reformatione, cap. 12, where an examination and profession (orthodoxæ fidei publica professio) is required from the clergy, together with a vow to remain obedient to the Roman Church (in ecclesiæ Romanæ obedientia se permansuros spondeant ac jurent). It was prepared by order of Pope Pius IV., in 1564, by a college of Cardinals.

It consists of twelve articles: the first contains the Nicene Creed in full, the remaining eleven are a clear and precise summary of the specific 97Roman doctrines as settled by the Council of Trent, together with the important additional declaration that the Roman Church is the mother and teacher of all the rest, and with an oath of obedience to the Pope, as the successor of the Prince of the apostles, and the vicar of Christ.186186   'Sanctum catholicam et apostolicam Romanam ecclesiam omnium ecclesiarum matrem et magistram agnosco, Romanoque Pontifici, beati Petri Apostolorum principis successori ac Jesu Christi vicario, veram obedientiam spondeo ac juro.' Here the 'catholic' Church is identified with the 'Roman' Church, and true obedience to the Pope is made a test of catholicity. The union decree of the Council of Florence makes a similar assertion (see Hardouin, Acta Conc. ix. 423): 'Item definimus, sanctam apostolicam sedem et Romanum Pontificem in universum orbem tenere primatum, et ipsum Pontificem Romanum successorem esse beati Petri principis Apostolorum, et verum Christi vicarium, totiusque ecclesiæ caput et omnium Christianorum patrem et doctorem existere.' But the integrity of the text of this famous union formula is disputed, and the Greeks and Latins charge each other with corruption. Some Greek copies omit the proud words τὸν Ῥωμαικὸν ἀρχιερέα εἰς πᾶσαν τὴν οἰκουμένην τὸ πρωτεῖον κατέχειν. Comp. Theod. Frommann: Zur Kritik des Florentiner Unionsdecrets and seiner dogmatischen Verwerthung beim Vaticanischen Concil, Leipz. 1870, pp. 40 sqq. The whole is put in the form of an individual profession ('Ego, ——, firma fide credo et profiteor'), and of a solemn vow and oath ('spondeo, voveo ac juro. Sic me Deus adjuvet, et hæc sancta Evangelia').

This formula was made binding, in a double bull of Nov. 13, 1564 ('Injunctum noblis'), and Dec. 9, 1564 ('In sacrosancta beati Petri, principis apostolorum, cathedra,' etc.), upon the whole ecclesia docens, i.e., upon all Roman Catholic priests and public teachers in Catholic seminaries, colleges, and universities. Besides, it has come to be generally used, without special legislation, as a creed for Protestant converts to Romanism, and hence it is called sometimes the 'Profession of Converts.'187187   For converts from the Greek Church the form was afterwards (1575) modified by a reference to the compromise of the Council of Florence. See the Professio Fidei Græcis præscripta a Gregorio XIII., in Denzinger's Enchir., p. 294, and the Professio Fidei Orientalibus præscripta ab Urbano VIII. et Benedicto XIV., ibid., p. 296. For Protestants other forms of abjuration were occasionally used, without official sanction. The infamous Hungarian formula for Protestant converts (Confessio novorum Catholicorum in Hungaria, first published 1674) is disowned by liberal Catholics as a foul Protestant forgery, but seems to have been used occasionally by Jesuits during the cruel persecutions of Protestants in Hungary and Bohemia in the 17th century. It contains the most extravagant Jesuit views on the authority of the Pope, the worship of the Virgin, the power of the priesthood, and pronounces awful curses on Protestant parents, teachers, and relations ('maledictos pronuntiamus parentes nostros,' etc.), and on the evangelical faith, with the promise to persecute this faith in every possible way, even by the sword ('Juramus etiam, donec una gutta sanguinis in corpore nostro exstiterit, doctrinam maledictam illam evangelicam nos omnimodo, clam et aperte, violenter et fraudulenter, verbo et facto persecuturos, ense quoque non excluso'). See the formula in Mohnike, l.c. pp. 88–92, in Streitwolf and Klener, II. pp. 343–346; and an account of the controversies concerning it in Köllner, l.c. pp. 159–165, and especially the monograph of Mohnike: Zur Geschichte des Ungarischen Fluchformulars (an Appendix to his History of the Profession of the Tridentine Faith), Greifswald, 1823, 264 pages. A copy of this rare book is in the library of the Union Theological Seminary of New York. For both purposes it is far better adapted than the Decrees 98of the Council of Trent, which are too learned and extensive for popular use.

As this Profession of Pius IV. is the most concise and, practically, the most important summary of the doctrinal system of Rome, we give it in full, and arrange it in three parts, so that the difference between the ancient Catholic faith, the later Tridentine faith, and the oath of obedience to the Pope as the vicar of Christ, may be more clearly seen. It should be remembered that the Nicene Creed was regarded by the ancient Church as final, and that the third and fourth œcumenical Councils solemnly, and on the pain of deposition and excommunication, forbade the setting forth of any new creed.188188   Conc. Ephes. (431), Canon VII.; Conc. Chalced. (451), after the definition of faith. To bring the Tridentine formula up to the present standard of Roman orthodoxy, it would require the two additional dogmas of the immaculate conception, and papal infallibility.

TRANSLATION OF THE PROFESSION.189189   See the Latin text in the two bulls of Pius IV. above mentioned, also in Mohnike, 1.c. pp. 46 sqq., in Streitwolf and Klener, Libri Symb. I. 98–100 (with the various readings), and in Denzinger, Enchir., p. 98. Also Mirbt, pp. 337–40. For additions to the oath, Vol. II. 210.

I. The Nicene Creed of 381, with the Western Changes.

(See p. 27.)

1. I, ——, with a firm faith, believe and profess all and every one of the things contained in the symbol of faith, which the holy Roman Church makes use of, viz.:

I believe in one God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father; by whom all things were made;

Who, for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man;

He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate; suffered and was buried;

And the third day he rose again, according to the Scriptures;

And ascended into heaven; sitteth on the right hand of the Father;

And he shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.

And in the Holy Ghost, the Lord, and Giver of life; who proceedeth from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified; who spake by the Prophets.

And one holy catholic and apostolic Church;

I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins;

And I look for the resurrection of the dead;

And the life of the world to come. Amen.


II. Summary of the Tridentine Creed (1563).

2. I most steadfastly admit and embrace the apostolic and ecclesiastical traditions, and all other observances and constitutions of the same Church.

3. I also admit the holy Scriptures according to that sense which our holy Mother Church has held, and does hold, to which it belongs to judge of the true sense and interpretation of the Scriptures; neither will I ever take and interpret them otherwise than according to the unanimous consent of the Fathers (juxta unanimem consensum Patrum).190190   It is characteristic that the Scriptures are put after the traditions, and admitted only in a restricted sense, the Roman Church being made the only interpreter of the Word of God. Protestantism reverses the order, and makes the Bible the rule and corrective of ecclesiastical traditions.

4. I also profess that there are truly and properly seven sacraments of the new law, instituted by Jesus Christ our Lord, and necessary for the salvation of mankind, though not all for every one, to wit: baptism, confirmation, the eucharist, penance and extreme unction, holy orders, and matrimony; and that they confer grace; and that of these, baptism, confirmation, and ordination can not be reiterated without sacrilege. I also receive and admit the received and approved ceremonies of the Catholic Church used in the solemn administration of the aforesaid sacraments.

5. I embrace and receive all and every one of the things which have been defined and declared in the holy Council of Trent concerning original sin and justification.

6. I profess likewise that in the mass there is offered to God a true, proper, and propitiatory sacrifice for the living and the dead (verum, proprium, et propitiatorium sacrificium pro vivis et defunctis); and that in the most holy sacrament of the eucharist there is truly, really, and substantially (vere, realiter, et substantialiter) the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ; and that there is made a change of the whole essence (conversionem totius substantiæ) of the bread into the body, and of the whole essence of the wine into the blood; which change the Catholic Church calls transubstantiation.

7. I also confess that under either kind alone Christ is received whole and entire, and a true sacrament.

8. I firmly hold that there is a purgatory, and that the souls therein detained are helped by the suffrages of the faithful.

Likewise, that the saints reigning with Christ are to be honored and invoked (venerandos atque invocandos esse), and that they offer up prayers to God for us; and that their relics are to be held in veneration (esse venerandas).191191   This should properly be a separate article, but in the papal bulls it is connected with the eighth article.

9. I most firmly assert that the images of Christ and of the perpetual Virgin, the Mother of God, and also of other saints, ought to be had and retained, and that due honor and veneration are to be given them.

I also affirm that the power of indulgences was left by Christ in the Church, and that the use of them is most wholesome to Christian people.192192   This should likewise be a separate article, but is made a part of article 9.

III. Additional Articles and Solemn Pledges (1564).

10. I acknowledge the holy Catholic Apostolic Roman Church as the mother and mistress of all churches, and I promise and swear (spondeo ac juro) true obedience to the Bishop of Rome, as the successor of St. Peter, prince of the Apostles, and as the vicar of Jesus Christ.

11. I likewise undoubtingly receive and profess all other things delivered, defined, and declared by the sacred Canons and œcumenical Councils, and particularly by the holy Council of Trent; and I condemn, reject, and anathematize all things contrary thereto, and all heresies which the Church has condemned, rejected, and anathematized.

12. I do at this present freely profess and truly hold this true Catholic faith, without which no one can be saved (extra quam nemo salvus esse potest); and I promise most constantly to retain and confess the same entire and inviolate,193193   For inviolatam the Roman Bullaria read immaculatam. with God's assistance, to the end of my life. And I will take care, as far as in me lies, that it shall be held, taught, and preached by my subjects, or by those the care of whom shall appertain to me in my office. This I promise, vow, and swear—so help me God, and these holy Gospels of God.


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