Canisius's Catechism for the Youngest Children
Petrus Canisius (1521–1597).
Institutiones christianae pietatis. Seu parvus catechismus catholicorum.
Cologne: Apud Maternum Cholinum, 1571. (BRB0474)
Responding to a request from Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand I (b. 1503, r. 1531–1564) for a new Catholic catechism, the Dutch-born Jesuit Canisius produced three versions for different readers. These catechisms included the complete text for adults (Summa doctrinae christianae, 1555), an abridged version for experienced students (Catechismus minimus, 1556), and a simplified edition for beginning readers (Parvus catechismus catholicorum, 1558). The three texts were remarkably popular and more than 200 editions in at least a dozen languages were published before Canisius’s death in 1597. On exhibit is an early printing of the version for the youngest students. The beginning of the Christian Doctrine is on display with the questions in italic and the answers in roman type.