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Saint Vincent's Reading List XXXII: Catechesis and Evangelism

by Rev Edward R Udovic CM 8/27/2012 10:04:00 AM

Catechismus Ex Decreto Sacrosancti Concilii Tride. Lugduni: Haeredes Gulielmi Rovillii, 1603.

Call Number: VSI. 238.2 C363cr1603

Vincent de Paul founded the Congregation of the Mission in 1625; its "mission" was the evangelization of the poor country people who were, more often than not, ill-served by their parishes and their parish priests. Vincent discovered that these country people could be ignorant of even the most basic truths of the Catholic faith. He and his followers recognized that very often, evangelization meant providing basic catechesis. The Council of Trent

Thus, the roving band of missionaries working in the countryside always included catechism lessons for adults and children as an integral part of their parish missions.1 For their part, the Ladies and Daughters of Charity were also instructed to provide catechism lessons not just to the orphans and children they cared for, but also the sick and the galley prisoners. This concern was a characteristic expression of a holistic care both for the spiritual and material needs of the abandoned poor. 

One of the final acts of the Council of Trent (1545-1563) had been to call for the publication of a comprehensive catechism of the Catholic faith. This work was to reflect the doctrinal clarifications and re-statements that the Council, with papal approval, had issued in response to the challenges posed by the various Protestant theological insights and positions. This volume was finished in 1566 and approved by Pius V. The Catechism of the Council of Trent became the standard source for all Catholic apologetics and evangelization in the Counter Reformation era. It also gave rise to a number of more specialized catechetical texts approved for popular use throughout the Catholic world.

The catechetical work of the early Vincentians in particular would have been based on the Tridentine catechism. A well-thumbed copy of this work, alongside a copy of the Council’s decree, would have been used by Vincent de Paul.


1For example, see Coste, Pierre. Correspondence, Conferences, Documents, Vol. 1, 41.



St. Vincent's Reading List is a recurring blog series exploring texts known to have been read and recommended by Saint Vincent de Paul, those which can be presumed to have been read by him, and works published during his lifetime (1581-1660) illustrating his world. All materials discussed are held by DePaul University's Richardson Library. The entire series may be viewed here.


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