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§ 26. Roman Catechism, 1566.

Latin Editions.

Catechismus ex decreto Conc. Trident. Pii V. jussu editus, Romæ ap. Paulum Manutium, 1566, in editions of different sizes, very often reprinted all over Europe.

Catechismus ad Parochos, ex decreto Concilii Tridentini editus. Ex Pii V. Pont. Max. jussu promulgatus. Syncerus et integer, mendisque iterum repurgatus operâ P. D. L. H. P. A quo est additus apparatus ad Catechismum, in quo ratio, auctores, approbatores, et usus declarantur, Lugduni, 1659: Paris, 1671; Lovan. 1678; Paris, 1684; Colon. 1689, 1698, 1731; Aug. Vindel. 1762; Lugdun. 1829; Mechlin, 1831; Ratisb. 1856 (730 pp.).

Catechismus ex decreto Conc. Tridentini ad Parochos Pii Quinti Pont. Max. jussu editus. Ad editionem Romæ A.D. 1566 juris publici factam accuratissime expressus, ed. stereotypa VI., Lipsiæ (Tauchnitz), 1859, 8vo.

Also in Streitwolf et Klener: Libri Symb. eccl. cath., Tom. I. pp. 101–712. A critical edition, indicating the different divisions, the quotations from the Scriptures, the Councils, and other documents.


The Catechism for the Curates, composed by the Council of Trent, and published by command of Pope Pius the Fifth. Faithfully translated into English. Permissu superiorum. London, 1687.

The Catechism of the Council of Trent, translated into English by J. Donovan, Baltimore, 1829.

The Catechism of the Council of Trent, translated into English, with Notes, by T. A. Buckley, B.A., London, 1852, 8vo.

German translations, first, by Paul Hoffäus, Dillingen, 1568, 1576; another at Wien, 1763; one by T. W. Bodemann, Göttingen, 1844; and by Ad. Buse, Bielefeld, (with the Lat. text), 3d ed. 1867, 2 vols.

French translations, published at Bordeaux, 1568; Paris, 1578, 1650 (by P. de la Haye), 1673, etc.


Julii Pogiani Sunensis (d. 1567): Epistolæ et Orationes olim collectæ ab Antonio Maria Gratiano, nunc ab Hieronymo Lagomarsinio e Societate Jesu advocationibus illustratæ ac primum editæ, Rom., Vol. I. 1752; II. 1756; III. 1757; IV. 1758.

Apparatus ad Catechismum, etc., mentioned above, by an anonymous author (perhaps Anton. Reginaldus), first published in the edition of the Catechism, Lugd. 1659. The chief source of information.

J. C. Köcher: Catech. Geschichte der Pübstlichen Kirche, Jen. 1753.

Köllner: Symbolik der röm. Kirche, pp. 166–190. K. gives a list of other works on the subject.


The Roman Catechism was proposed by the Council of Trent, which entered upon some preparatory labors, but at its last session committed the execution to the Pope.194194   Sessio XXIV. De Reformatione, cap. 7 (ed. Richter, p. 344), the Bishops are directed to provide for the instruction of Catholics, 'juxta formam a sancta synodo in catechesi singulis sacramentis præscribendam, quam episcopi in vulgarem linguam fideliter verti, atque a parochis omnibus populo exponi curabunt.' According to Sarpi, a draft of the proposed Catechism was laid before the Synod, but rejected. In the 25th and last session (held Dec. 24, 1563), the Synod intrusted the Pope (Pius IV.) with the preparation of an index of prohibited books, a catechism, and an edition of the liturgical books ('idemque de catechismo a Patribus, quibus illud mandatum fuerat, et de missali, et breviario fieri mandat,' p. 471). The object was to regulate the important work of popular religious instruction, and to bring it into harmony with the decisions of the Council.195195   Several catechisms, not properly authorized, had appeared before and during the Council of Trent to counteract the Lutheran and Reformed Catechisms, which did so much to spread and popularize the Reformation. See a list of them in Streitwolf and Klener, I. p. i.–iv., and in Köllner, p. 169. Pius IV. (d. 1565), under the advice of Cardinal Carlo Borromeo (Archbishop of Milan), intrusted the work to four eminent divines, viz., Leonardo Marini (afterwards Archbishop of Lanciano), Egidio Foscarari (Bishop of Modena), Muzio 101Calini (Archbishop of Jadera-Zara, in Dalmatia), and Francesco Fureiro (of Portugal). Three of them were Dominicans (as was the Pope himself). This explains the subsequent hostility of the Jesuits. Borromeo superintended the preparation with great care, and several accomplished Latin scholars, especially Jul. Pogianus, aided in the style of composition.196196   Winer, Guericke, Möhler, and others, ascribe the Latinity of the Catechism to Paulus Manutius, the printer of the same; but he himself, in his epistles, where he mentions all his literary labors, says nothing about it. The Catechism was begun early in 1564, and substantially finished in December of the same year, but subjected for revision to Pogianus in 1565, and again to a commission of able divines and Latinists. It was finally completed in July, 1566, and published by order of Pope Pius V., in September, 1566, and soon translated into all the languages of Europe. Several Popes and Bishops recommended it in the highest terms. The Dominicans and Jansenists often appealed to its authority in the controversies about free will and divine grace, but the Jesuits (Less, Molina, and others) took ground against it, and even charged it with heresy.

The work is intended for teachers (as the title ad Parochos indicates), not for pupils. It is a very full popular manual of theology, based upon the decrees of Trent. It answers its purpose very well, by its precise definitions, lucid arrangement, and good style.

The Roman Catechism treats, in four parts: 1, de Symbolo apostolico;  2, de Sacramentis;  3, de Decalogo;  4, de Oratione Dominica. It was originally written and printed without divisions.197197   The division into four parts, and of these into chapters and questions, appeared first in the edition of Fabricius Lodius, Col. 1572, and Antw. 1574. Other editions vary in the arrangement. Its theology belongs to the school of Augustine and Thomas Aquinas, and hence it displeased the Jesuits. While it passes by certain features of the Roman system, as the indulgences and the rosary, it treats of others which were not touched upon by the Fathers of Trent, as the limbus patrum, the doctrine of the Church, and the authority of the Pope.

Notwithstanding the high character and authority of this production, it did not prevent the composition and use of many other catechisms, especially of a more popular kind and in the service of Jesuitism. The most distinguished of these are two Catechisms of the Jesuit Peter Canisius (a larger one for teachers, 1554, and a smaller one for 102pupils, 1566); the Catechism of Cardinal Bellarmin (1603), which Clement VIII. and later Popes commended as an authentic and useful exposition of the Roman Catechism, and which is much used by missionaries; and the Catechism of Bossuet for the diocese of Meaux (1687). The Roman Church allows an endless multiplication of such educational books with adaptations to different nationalities, ages, degrees of culture, local wants and circumstances, provided they agree with the doctrinal system set forth by the Council of Trent. Most of these books, however, must now be remodeled and adjusted to the Council of the Vatican.198198   Thus, for instance, in Keenan's Controversial Catechism, as published by the 'Catholic Publishing Company,' New Bond Street, London, the pretended doctrine of papal infallibility was expressly denied as 'a Protestant invention; it is no article of the Catholic faith; no decision of the Pope can oblige under pain of heresy, unless it be received and enforced by the teaching body, that is, by the Bishops of the Church.' But since 1871 the leaf containing this question and answer has been canceled and another substituted. So says Oxenham, in his translation of Döllinger on the Reunion of Churches, p. 126, note. The same is true of many German and French Catholic Catechisms.


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