The two catechisms found in Volume 9 were written by St. Peter Canisius, a famous catechist and doctor of the Church, and are among the best of the Catholic Reformation era.
Ferdinand I asked Canisius to write a catechism that could meet the needs of both priests and laypeople with the same gentle charity and accuracy that marked all of Canisius' preaching and teaching, in an era of great confusion and distress, after the Jesuits had successfully established the first house in Germany (despite the increasingly heretical teachings of the local archbishop).
The Saint's efforts led to the creation of a catechism in three different forms: the Summa Doctrina Christianae or "Large Catechism" (1555), a comprehensive and impressively annotated work aimed at priests and scholars; the tiny and less well-known Catechismus Minimus (1556); and finally the Catechismus Minor or "Small Catechism" (1558), which had such a significant impact that it came to be known simply “the Canisius.”
After publishing his own catechism, the renowned Saint Robert Bellarmine acknowledged that he "would not have put so much effort into producing a new catechism" if he had known about Canisius' work at the time. "In that case, I would have simply translated Peter Canisius' catechism!"
For the first time, both the Large and Small editions of Canisius’ great work are published together in this collection, derived from English translations carried by the underground Catholic press during the Elizabeth reign. Canisius' catechism, which first appeared during a period of major advancements in printing technology, quickly rose to prominence as one of the first bestsellers on a global scale, seeing the publication of no less than 300 editions while the author was still alive, and countless more after his passing.
The book has currently been published in over 1100 recognised editions, making it the most widely distributed work by a Dutch author in history. The Catholic Encyclopedia notes that the Canisius catechism is unique for its ecclesiastically sound doctrines, its clear, positive words, and its mild and dignified structure, all of which attest to its inherent effectiveness as a teaching instrument. Even non-Catholics now recognise it as a masterpiece.
Pope Leo XIII noted the following on the third centennial of Canisius' passing:
“There exist, in effect, certain analogies between our age and the period in which Canisius lived: a period when the spirit of revolution and looseness of doctrine resulted in a great loss of faith and decline in morals. To deliver youth especially from this double scourge was the goal of this man who, after Boniface, is the second apostle of Germany. … [His catechisms] were used not only in the schools as a spiritual milk for the children, but they were also explained publicly in the churches to the benefit of all. Thus, during three centuries, Canisius has been regarded as the teacher of Catholics in Germany. In popular speech, ‘knowing Canisius’ was synonymous with ‘preserving the Christian faith.’”
Hardcover. 304 pages.