Catechismus ex decreto Concili Tridentini ad parochos Pii V.

Venice, apud Aldum, 1582.


8vo. pp. (xvi) 616 (xxiv). Italic letter, little Roman. Woodcut architectural t-p with putti, caryatids and kneeling figure at prayer within roundel, 4 full- and 33 half-page woodcut illustrations depicting Evangelists, saint, sacraments and biblical scenes, decorated initials and ornaments. Slight browning, minor repair to lower outer corner of t-p and last leaf affecting a couple of index numerals, little thumbing, scattered ink marks. A good copy in C19 polished calf, blind ruled to a panel design, blind tooled lozenge with large fleuron in blind to centre panel, outer border double gilt ruled, centre panel gilt ruled with large gilt fleurons to corners, spine gilt, extremities and joints a bit rubbed, title inked to edges, just run onto outer margins in places. Modern casemark label to front pastedown, extensive C17 Latin and Italian annotation in places, ex-libris ‘Ferdinandus Ravagninus’ dated 1662 and dedication to ‘Lancil. Ravagninus’ on verso of penultimate and last leaf respectively.

A handsomely illustrated and extensively annotated copy of the Counter-Reformation catechism. The ‘Catechismus’ was first published in 1566 during the pontificate of Pius V as a programmatic instrument to circulate the theological tenets approved at the Council of Trent, produced under the supervision of the Cardinals Carlo Borromeo and Guglielmo Sirleto. This is the second Aldine edition of the revised version published in 1575, edited by Paolo Manutius, Cornelio Amalteo and Giulio Poggiano. Aldus’s letter to the reader, from the 1575 edition, explains that this ‘carefully prepared’ Catechism illuminated for all the orthodox doctrine which priests either ignored or interpreted individually—a ‘great fault’; it was also addressed to lay people as a book of instruction. The careful editing of the Latin text had ‘avenged’ it from ‘typographic negligence’. Intended as teaching aids, the outstanding woodcuts of anonymous authorship represent biblical scenes, Evangelists, saints and typological images such as the crucified Christ from whom departed, in the guise of a genealogical tree, six sacraments all rooted in baptism. In 1662, the owner of this copy, Ferdinandus Ravagninus, listed in Italian above his ex-libris the nine types of lust: fornication, rape, adultery, abduction, incest, sacrilegium, masturbation, sodomy and bestiality. An earlier owner added marginalia to passages on the liturgy and meaning of the sacraments—especially baptism, the Eucharist and penance—and the ‘decalogus’. The annotation reproduced the subsection headlines added to later editions of the ‘Catechismus’, the earliest occurrence of which we have traced to Venice 1596.

Only Holy Cross, UPenn, St John’s copies recorded in the US.

Renouard, Annales, 230:1; BM STC It., p. 680; Ahmanson-Murphy, Aldine Collection, 941. Not in Sander (1566 ed. only) or Mortimer.

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