Published online by Cambridge University Press: 21 April 2015
This article examines the vernacular translations of the famous catechisms prepared by the Dutch Jesuit Peter Canisius which circulated in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Britain. The various editions and adaptations of Canisius produced for English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish readers are texts in which anti-Protestant identity formation converges with the task of basic indoctrination. These include Laurence Vaux’s popular catechism of 1567, the traditionalist character of which is reassessed. Shedding light on the reception and domestication of the literature of the European Counter Reformation, these books illustrate how catechesis was revived and harnessed as a clerical tool for cultivating polemical resistance and as a device for inculcating saving knowledge and redeeming piety in those young in faith as well as in years. Recusant clergy, seminary priests and Jesuits tackled the task of restoring England to its traditional allegiance to Rome as if they were planting the faith in a pagan land and they utilised the same techniques and strategies as their colleagues in the newly discovered world. A study of Canisius’s catechisms highlights the fluid boundary between conversion and reconciliation in contemporary minds; illuminates the intertwining of the histories of evangelical mission and confessionalisation in the context of the British Isles; and helps to reintegrate minority Catholic communities back into our picture of the global movement for religious outreach and renewal.
I am grateful to Antje Flüchter and the participants in the conference ‘Comparing Catechisms: Entangling Christian History’, held at the University of Oslo in May 2014, for helpful comments on an earlier version of this article.
1 Charke, William, ‘Of the use of catechising’, in Richard Cawdrey, A Short and Fruitfull Treatise, of the Profit and Necessitie of Catechising (London, 1580)Google Scholar, sigs D2v-3r.
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11 For a fuller discussion, see my ‘Religious Ventriloquism: Translation, Cultural Exchange and the English Counter Reformation’ (forthcoming).
12 See The Theatre of Japonia’s Constancy in which an Hundred and Eighteene Glorious Martyrs Suffered Death for Christ, in the Yeare of our Lord 1622, trans. William Badduley ([St Omer, 1624]); Pedro Morejon, A Briefe Relation of the Persecution Lately made against the Catholike Christians, in the Kingdome of Japonia Divided into Two Books ([St Omer, 1619), epistle ‘To all that suffer Persecution in England for Catholike Religion’ (pp. 3–18); João Rodrigues, The Palme of Christian Fortitude. Or The Glorious Combats of Christians in Japonia ([St Omer], 1630).
13 Nancy Pollard Brown, ‘Robert Southwell: The Mission of the Written Word’, in Thomas M. McCoog, ed., The Reckoned Expense: Edmund Campion and the Early English Jesuits (Rome, 2nd edn, 2007), 251–75.
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21 As reflected, for example in the murals depicted on the walls of the English College at Rome. For contemporary engravings of these, see Giovanni Battista Cavalieri, Ecclesiæ Anglicanæ trophæa ([Rome, 1584]).
22 See Chatellier, Louis, The Religion of the Poor: Rural Missions in Europe and the Formation of Modern Catholicism c.1500–1800, trans. Brian Pearce (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997)Google Scholar, 16, 22–3. See also John O’Malley, ‘Mission and the Early Jesuits’, in Ignatian Spirituality and Mission, The Way, Supplement 79 (1994): 3–10.
23 Both were translated into English: Robert Bellarmine, A Shorte Catechisme … Illustrated with the Images, trans. Richard Gibbons (Augusta, 1614); An Ample Declaration of the Christian Doctrine, trans. Richard Hadock (Douai, ). See STC 1835–1837.7; ARCR II, 361–7.
24 See Gentilcore, David, ‘“Adapt Yourselves to the People’s Capabilities”: Missionary Strategies, Methods and Impact in the Kingdom of Naples, 1600–1800’, JEH 45 (1994): 269–296 Google Scholar.
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26 See Ditchfield, , ‘Decentering’, 205–206 Google Scholar; Mullett, Michael A., The Catholic Reformation (London: Routledge, 1999), 117–119 Google Scholar. See also Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent, ed. H. J. Schroeder (Rockford, IL: Tan Books and Publishers, 1978), 197.
27 O’Malley, First Jesuits, 124.
28 Brodrick, , Saint Peter Canisius, 242–243 Google Scholar, 241, 245; whose figures are revised upwards by Begheyn, ‘Catechism’, 61 and passim. For an account of the impact of Canisius’s catechisms in France, see Guy Bedouelle, ‘L’influence des catechismes de Canisius en France’, in Pierre Colin et al, ed., Aux Origines du Catéchisme en France (Desclée: Relais- Desclée, 1989), 67–86.
29 See STC 4568–4572.5; Wing C436B. Green’s, Ian The Christian’s ABC: Catechisms and Catechizing in England c.1530–1740 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996)CrossRefGoogle Scholar focuses on Protestant catechisms, but lists Catholic editions in its extensive appendix. See 50, 580–751. Elizabeth Ferguson briefly discusses catechisms in ‘Religion by the Book: Negotiating Catholic Devotion in Post-Reformation England 1570–1625’ (unpubl. DPhil thesis, University of Oxford, 2011), 34–5. For a fuller account focusing on the role of catechisms in educating young Catholics, see Underwood, Lucy, Childhood, Youth and Religious Dissent in Post-Reformation England (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar, ch. 3.
30 Janz, , ‘Catechisms’, 275 Google Scholar. See Hudson, Anne, ‘A New Look at the Lay Folk’s Catechism’, Viator 16 (1985): 243–258 CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Swanson, R. N., ‘The Origins of the Lay Folks’ Catechism’, Medium Aevum 60 (1991): 92–100 Google Scholar; Powell, Sue, ‘The Transmission and Circulation of The lay folk’s catechism’, in Alastair J. Minnis, ed., Late-Medieval Religious Texts and their Transmission: Essays in Honour of A. I. Doyle (Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer, 1994), 67–84 Google Scholar; Duffy, Eamon, The Stripping of the Altars: Traditional Religion in England c. 1400–c.1580 (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1992)Google Scholar, ch. 2; and Bast, Robert James, Honor your Fathers: Catechisms and the Emergence of a Patriarchal Ideology in Germany 1400–1600 (Leiden: Brill, 1997)Google Scholar, ch. 1, esp. 21–2. For the Protestant commonplace that catechesis had been neglected in the middle ages, see Green, Christian’s ABC, 13.
31 Richard Whitford, A Werke for Housholders or for them that have the Guidyng or Governaunce of any Company ([London, 1531]); Lupton, J. H., A Life of John Colet (London: Bell, 1909)Google Scholar, 286–90. See also Tudor, Philippa, ‘Religious Instruction for Children and Adolescent in the Early English Reformation’, JEH 35 (1984): 391–413 Google Scholar.
32 Edmund Bonner, A Profitable and Necessarye Doctrine with Certayne Homelies Adioyned Therunto ([London, 1555]) and An Honest Godlye Instruction and Information for the Tradynge, and Bringinge up of Children ([London, 1555]), sig. A2r.
33 See Duffy, Eamon, Fires of Faith: Catholic England under Mary Tudor (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2009), 67–68 Google Scholar, and ch. 3 passim. Canisius is quoted in Figgis, ‘Petrus Canisius’, 22.
34 Laurence Vaux, A Catechisme, or a Christian Doctrine Necessarie for Chyldren and the Ignorant People ([Louvain, 1568]), ‘The Author to the Reader’ (sigs. A3r-v).
35 See T.G. Law’s introduction to his edition of A Catechisme or Christian Doctrine, Chetham Society, NS 4 (1885), xciii–xcvii; Bossy, English Catholic Community, 272. Vaux, Catechisme, 117.
36 Vaux, Catechisme, 142–80.
37 ‘Official Lists of Catholic Prisoners during the Reign of Queen Elizabeth’, in Miscellanea II, Catholic Record Society 2 (London, 1906), 225, 230.
38 Vaux, Catechisme, sig. A3v (vere A4v). It is recognized by Crichton, J. D., ‘Religious Education in England in the Penal Days (1559–1778)’, in Gerard S. Sloyan, ed., Shaping the Christian Message: Essays in Religious Education (New York: Macmillan, 1959), 63–90 Google Scholar, at 72, though he too comments that it is ‘more medieval in tone than anything else’(73); by Brodrick, , Saint Peter Canisius, 243 Google Scholar; and by Underwood, Childhood, Youth and Religious Dissent, 54–5, who also remarks on its ‘traditionalism’. Begheyn, ‘Catechism’, excludes this from his list of editions of Canisius, 68.
39 See John J. LaRocca, ‘Laurence Vaux’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/28161 (accessed 1 Jan 2015). For Vaux’s activities in Lancashire, see Haigh, Christopher, Reformation and Resistance in Tudor Lancashire (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1975)Google Scholar, 248, 249–50, 251, 259, 266.
40 Law, ed., Catechisme, p. xcii; Vaux, Catechisme, 17, 76. Underwood, Childhood, Youth and Religious Dissent, 55.
41 Vaux, Catechisme, 36–7, 38, 39, 60–1, 62, 156.
42 For the full range of extant editions in sexto and duodecimo, see STC 24625.5–24627a.4; ARCR II, 748–56. Other contemporary impressions of this text may have appeared but have left no trace. See also the useful discussion in Southern, A. C., Elizabethan Recusant Prose 1559–1582 (London: Sands, 1950), 532–536 Google Scholar.
43 Godly Contemplations for the Unlearned (Antwerp, 1575), title-page. This edition was bound with the Jesus Psalter. See STC 14563.3; ARCR II, 193. For evidence that it was bound with Vaux’s catechism, see the BL copy of the 1580 edition: STC 24626.3; ARCR II, 749–50. On illustrated continental editions of Canisius, see Lee Palmer Wandel, ‘Catechisms: Teaching the Eye to Read the World’, in Feike Dietz et al, eds. Illustrated Religious Texts in the North of Europe, 1500–1800 (Farnham: Ashgate, 2014), 53–76. Bellarmine’s Shorte Catechisme, translated by Richard Gibbons in 1614 was explicitly prefaced by Pope Gregory’s famous utterance (p. 3) and accompanied by images of Scriptural scenes, the three persons of the Trinity, and the devout Christian life.
44 A briefe forme of confession, instructing all christian folk how to confesse their sinnes, and so to dispose themselves, that they may injoy the benefit of true Pennance ([London secret press], 1599), ‘To the Reader’. See STC 24627–24627a.4.
45 O’Malley, First Jesuits, 87; Green, Christian’s ABC, 14–15. On reconciliation, see Underwood, Childhood, Youth and Religious Dissent, 23–9.
46 See R. J. Fehrenbach and Joseph L. Black, eds. Private Libraries in Renaissance England: A Collection and Catalogue of Tudor and Early Stuart Book-Lists, vol. 8, PLRE 167–260 (Tempe, Az: Medieval and Renaissance Texts & Studies, 2014), entries 244.4, 248.1, 251.4.
47 It appears in William Fulke’s ‘Catalogue of all such Popish Bookes either answered, or to be aunswered, which have bene written in the Englishe tongue from beyond the Seas, or secretly dispersed here in England have come to our handes, since the beginning of the Queenes Maiesties reigne’, which was published in various controversial works, including D. Heskins, D. Sanders, and M. Rastel, Accounted (among their Faction) Three Pillers and Archpatriarches of the Popish Synagogue (London, 1579), sig. ¶2v and T. Stapleton and Martiall (Two Popish Heretikes) Confuted (London, 1580), unpaginated, following title page, when it was said to be in the process of being refuted, though no specific text in response to it is extant.
48 The edition in question is dated 1583 and was printed in Rouen on Robert Persons’ press (STC 24626.7; ARCR II, 751). There are copies in Lamport Hall, Northampton, in the possession of the Marquis of Bute, and in Salisbury Cathedral Library (classmark O.2.51). I am grateful to Emily Naish for her assistance during my visit to see the Salisbury copy. A Catechisme or Christian Doctrine, sigs H3v-5v. The edition also includes ‘Certayne degrees to vertue’, ‘A briefe meditation or rather forme of examination of ones conscience dayly to be used to bedward, wherein is conteyned a right practize of the former six steppes’, and ‘A note of such thinges as are represented to Christians by the usuall blessing of themselves with the signe of the crosse’. See also Law, ed., Catechisme, xcvii–xcviii, 95–7.
49 London, The National Archive, State Papers 12/142/14, transcribed in Henry Foley, Records of the English Province of the Society of Jesus, 7 vols in 8 (London, 1875–83), 6: 713–14n; T. F. Knox, ed., The First and Second Diaries of the English College, Douay: And an Appendix of Unpublished Documents (London: D. Nutt, 1878), 170; Haigh, Reformation and Resistance, 292.
50 Bristow, Richard, A Briefe Treatise of diverse Plaine and Sure Ways to Finde out the Truthe in this Doubtful and Dangerous Time of Heresie in Conteyning Sundry Worthy Motives unto the Catholike Faith, or Considerations to Move a Man to Believe the Catholikes, and not the Heretikes (Antwerp, 1574)Google Scholar and Demaundes to be Proponed of Catholiques to the Heretikes (Antwerp [Douai], 1576). The attacks on Luther, Calvin and Beza echo themes articulated in Peter Frarin’s scurrilous An Oration against the Unlawfull Insurrections of the Protestantes of our Time, under Pretence to Refourme Religion (Antwerp, 1566).
51 Laurence Vaux, Catechisme or Christian doctrine (St Omer, 1620; STC 24627a.2, copy in Folger Shakespeare Library), dedicatory epistle. On Frances Wolfreston, see Paul Morgan, ‘Frances Wolfreston and “hor bouks”: A Seventeenth-Century Woman Book-Collector’, The Library, 6th ser. 11 (1989): 197–219; Watt, Tessa, Cheap Print and Popular Piety, 1550–1640 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), 315–317 Google Scholar.
52 Certayne Necessarie Principles of Religion, which may be Entituled, A Catechisme Conteyning all the Partes of the Christian and Catholique Faith (Douai [London], [1579–80?]), ‘The Translatour to the Reader’, sigs. ¶3r-7v. This text is also listed, separately, in Fulke’s catalogues, cited in n. 45. On Carter, who was executed for printing Martin’s Treatise of schisme (1578), see Ian Gadd, ‘William Carter’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/4802, accessed 11 Jan 2015. An edition of Canisius’s Certayne Devout Meditations very Necessary for Christian Men Devoutly to Meditate upon Morning and Evening, every Day in the Weeke concerning Christ his Lyfe and Passion, and the Fruites thereof was also published by William Carter in London, with the false imprint of Douai in 1576.
53 An Introduction to the Catholick Faith Containing a Brief Explication of the Christian Doctrine: Togeather with an Easie Method to Examine the Conscience for a General Confession: Whereunto is Added a Dailie Exercise of Devout Prayers ([Rouen], ), sig. ā4r-v.
54 See Lucy Underwood, ‘Recusancy and the Rising Generation’, Recusant History (hereafter RH) 31 (2013), 511–33; and her Childhood, Youth and Religious Dissent. See also Shell, Alison, ‘Furor Juvenilis: Post-Reformation English Catholicism and Exemplary Youthful Behaviour’, in Ethan H. Shagan, ed., Catholics and the ‘Protestant Nation’: Religious Politics and Identity in Early Modern England (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2005), 185–206 Google Scholar.
55 Charke, ‘Of the use of catechising’, in Cawdrey, Short and fruitefull treatise, sig. D3r.
56 Green, Ian, ‘“For Children in Yeeres and Children in Understanding”: The Emergence of the English Catechism under Elizabeth and the Early Stuarts’, JEH 37 (1986), 397–425 Google Scholar, at 408; Christian’s ABC. Alexander Nowell, A Catechisme, or First Instruction and Learning of Christian Religion (London, 1570 and many other editions). For the importance of catechising in German Protestantism, see Strauss, Gerald, Luther’s House of Learning: Indoctrination of the Young in the German Reformation (Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1978)Google Scholar, ch. 8.
57 See O’Malley, First Jesuits, 87; Green, Christian’s ABC, 14.
58 See n. 17 above.
59 A Summe of Christian Doctrine: Composed in Latin … With an Appendix of the Fall of Man & Justification, according to the Doctrine of the Councel of Trent … To which is Adjoined the Explication of Certaine Questions not Handled at Large in the Booke as shall Appeare in the Table ([London?], [1592–6]), quotations at sigs *2r-3r. This was reissued under the same title in 1622, published at the Jesuit press in St Omer. On Garnet, see Thomas M. McCoog, ‘Henry Garnett’, in ODNB, http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/10389 (accessed 1 Jan 2015); Philip Caraman, Henry Garnet 1555–1606, and the Gunpowder Plot (London: Longmans, 1964).
60 Canisius, Summe, 75–7, 145–5.
61 Ibid., 187–9, 191.
62 Ibid., 196–223 (penance), 221 (purgatory), 258–64 (celibacy), 245, 156 (ministers and bishops).
63 Ibid., 449–85, at 452, 467, 475.
64 Ibid., quotations at sig. *3r and 485. The three treatises are 486–687.
65 Ibid., 525, 661–2. For Catholic anti-biographies of the reformers, see Marshall, Peter, ‘John Calvin and the English Catholics, c.1565–1640’, Historical Journal 53 (2010): 849–870 CrossRefGoogle Scholar.
66 Canisius, Summe, 627–8.
67 Ibid., sig. *4r.
68 See esp. [Henry Garnet], An Apology against the Defence of Schism. Lately Written by an English Divine at Doway, for Answere to a Letter of a Lapsed Catholike in England ([London, 1593]) and A Treatise of Christian Renunciation … Wherunto is Added a Shorte Discourse against Going to Hereticall Churches ([London, 1593]). See Walsham, Alexandra, Church Papists: Catholicism, Conformity and Confessional Polemic in Early Modern England (Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer, 1999 edn)Google Scholar, ch. 2 and ‘“Yielding to the Extremity of the Time”: Conformity, Orthodoxy and the Post-Reformation Catholic Community’, in Lake, Peter and Questier, Michael, eds, Conformity and Orthodoxy in the English Church, c.1560–1660 (Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer, 2000), 211–236 Google Scholar; Lake, Peter and Questier, Michael, The Trials of Margaret Clitherow: Persecution, Martyrdom and the Politics of Sanctity in Elizabethan England (London: Continuum, 2011)Google Scholar, esp. ch. 8. Garnet translated the Dottrina Christiana by another Jesuit Jacobus Ledesma in 1597. This was intended for the use of children and ‘unlearned Catholikes’ and took the form of a dialogue between a Master and his Disciple: Jacobus Ledesma, The Christian Doctrine in Manner of a Dialogue betweene the Master and the Disciple ([London secret press], 1597).
69 A Summary of Controversies wherein the Chiefest Points of the Catholike Roman Faith are Compendiously and Methodically Explicated, by Way of Catechisme, against the Sectaries of this Age, trans. P. C. ([St Omer], 1639).
70 See Private Libraries of Renaissance England, vol. 8: 216.3, 218.1–2, 220.3, 221.1, 242.7, 245.11.
71 Ane Catechisme or Schort Instruction of Christian Religion Drawen out of the Scripturs and Ancient Doctors …. With ane Kallendar Perpetuale … In the End ar Adjoined Certain Godlie Prayers and ane Schort Method Whairby Every Man may Exame his Conscience, ed. and trans. Adam King (Paris, 1588), quotation at sig. i.viiijr. The prayers are printed in separately paginated section entitled ‘Certane Devot prayers’, see esp. fos 36v–37v.
72 Brodrick, , Saint Peter Canisius, 249 Google Scholar. [Crynnodeb] o adysc Cristnogaul (Paris, 1609); Opus catechisticum D. Petri Canisii theology ex Societate Iesu Sf yu: Sum ne grynodebo adysc Gristionogaul, a dosparth Catholic, ar hol buncian’r phyd, hun a yscrifenod yr hybarchus a’r ardechaug athrau uchod yn gynta yn ladin ag a gyfiaithuyd o’r ladin i’r gymeraeg druy dyfal lafyr ag astudiaeth, ed. and trans. Rosier Smyth (Paris, 1611).
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74 Petri Canisii Societatis Jesu theologi parvus catechismus Catholicorum Latine (London, 1687). It also included a Latin formula for admission to the sodality of the Blessed Virgin and a meditation on the Holy Name of Jesus. On the printer, see Ian Gadd, ‘Henry Hills’, in ODNB, http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/13322 (accessed 1 Jan 2015).
75 See esp. Scott, Geoffrey, ‘The Poor Man’s Catechism’, RH 27 (2005): 373–382 Google Scholar. See also Bossy, , English Catholic Community, 272–277 Google Scholar; Pickering, Brian, ‘Bishop Challoner and Teaching the Faith’, The Clergy Review 65 (1980): 6–14 Google Scholar; Crichton, , ‘Religious Education in England in Penal Days’, 85–90 Google Scholar and ‘Challoner and the “Penny Catechism”’, RH 15 (1981): 425–32.
76 See Bossy, John, ‘The Counter-Reformation and the People of Catholic Europe’, P&P 47 (1970): 51–70 Google Scholar, at 66–7; Delumeau, Jean, Catholicism between Luther and Voltaire, trans. Jeremy Moiser (London and Philadelphia: Burns and Oates, 1977), 199–201 Google Scholar; Forster, Marc, Catholic Revival in the Age of the Baroque: Religious Identity in Southwest Germany, 1550–1750 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001), 126–127 CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Louthan, , Converting Bohemia, 188–198 Google Scholar; and Carter, Karen E., Creating Catholics: Catechism and Primary Education in Early Modern France (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 2011)Google Scholar, esp. chs 1–3.
77 Delumeau, Catholicism between Luther and Voltaire, esp. 161, 171, 173, 199.