Nahuatl Catechism

Bartolomé Castaño (1602–1672).
Doctrina pequeña en Mexicano. Tepiton teotlatolli.
Mexico: Alejandro Valdés, 1831. (BRB1300)

A unique addition to Bridwell Library’s growing collection of early catechisms, this uncut, unfolded sheet preserves two copies of a rare Nahuatl catechism in their pre-publication format. If one were to cut this sheet in half, fold each half three times, and make a total of eight cuts through the upper and outer folded edges, one would end up with two book-format copies of the catechism in correct order of pagination.

The text consists of a Catholic curriculum of twenty-two questions and responses on doctrinal concerns such as the virginity of St. Mary and the nature of the Trinity. First compiled in Spanish by the seventeenth-century Jesuit missionary Bartolomé Castaño, the catechism appears here in a translation into Nahuatl, which remained the major indigenous language of central Mexico long after the arrival of European missionaries and colonizers. On the final printed page (p. 15), the acronym “O. A. M. D. G.” stands for the Latin motto of the Jesuit Society, Omnia Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam (“All for the Greater Glory of God”).