Canisius’s Catechism for Adults and Children

Petrus Canisius (1521–1597).
Institutiones christianae pietatis. Seu parvus catechismus catholicorum.
Cologne: Maternus Cholinus, 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. Originally published prior to the Roman Catholic catechism approved by the Council of Trent, Canisius’s 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 two hundred editions in at least a dozen languages appeared before Canisius’s death in 1597. On exhibit is an early printing issued in 1571 of the catechism for the youngest students.

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The Counter-Reformation
Canisius’s Catechism for Adults and Children