Friday, January 24, 2020

Catechism in the Canton of Zurich

Lehrmeister Translation: Teacher

Lehrmeister 2

Dear Kent 
Religion was strict in the Church and at school with the catechism. The catechism in the Canton of Zurich used to consisted of three different books: the large catechism (the "Zeugnuss"), the "Lehrmeister" and the small catechism (the "Fragstücklein" or "Stücklein"). 

The small catechism, the "Fragstücklein" or "Stückli", consisted of 93 questions and answers. The children had to learn the questions and also the anwers from the catechism by heart. The "Fragstücklein" or "Stücklein" was the easiest part to understand. 

For example 
To the question: "Was ist dein einziger Trost im Leben im Sterben?" the children had to answer: "Das ewige Leben". 

Translation To the question: "What is your only comfort in life when dying?" the children had to answer: "Eternal life". 

To the same question the children had to answer in more detail in the "Teacher": "Dass ich nach diesem trübseligen Leben ewige Freude und Seligkeit ererben, und ewig bey Gott, meinem Vater, wohnen, und seiner himmlischen Güter theilhaft werden soll."   

Translation: To the same question the children had to answer in more detail in the "Teacher": "That after this miserable life I should inherit eternal joy and happiness, and dwell eternally with God, my Father, and divide his heavenly goods. 

We don't have a "Fragstücklein" or "Stückli " in our archive. But I'm sending you two photographs from the "Lehrmeister". I'm also sending you a list of abbreviations in church records compiled by Mrs Hirt. (
Source: Zürich Archives)

In the 1600s Confirmation was at 15 years, only later moved up to 18 years.

Luther's Catechism:

Manuscript Summary for above: Testeriano denotes catechism manuscripts in a pictographic script attributed to the Franciscan friar and missionary Jacobo de Testera (16th century). Writing had already developed in 12th century Central America as a mixture of ideograms, pictograms and phonetic symbols, but the original handwritten witnesses thereof were destroyed in the Spanish Conquest in the 16th century. In order to communicate with the indigenous population, Christian missionaries later adopted this writing system, but they invented many symbols since the goal was to communicate a new, Christian content. For instance, three crowned heads represent the Trinity and thus God, while two crowned heads with key and sword represent the apostles Peter and Paul. The manuscript is read from left to right across both pages; different parts are separated by decorative vertical vignettes. The manuscript contains several short prayers (among them pp. 1v-2r Persignum2v-4r Ave Maria4v-8r Credo) and a long prayer (pp. 27v-35r) which represents a repetition of the Christian doctrine. (wid) (source:

Manuscript Summary: The “Katharinenbuch” contains the regulations for a secondary school, as it was to be founded in Fribourg at the time of the Catholic reform on the model of the reformed schools. Peter Schneuwly (1540-1597) can be considered the author; he himself probably went to school in Fribourg. From 1557 on, he studied in Freiburg im Breisgau, where he attained a Magister artium. From 1564 on, he was a member of the clergy of the Collegiate Church of St. Nicholas in Fribourg, in 1565 he became a canon, and in 1566 a preacher in the city. At this time, the first preparatory works for the “Katharinenbuch” took shape. In the years 1577-1597, Schneuwly was vicar general of the Diocese of Lausanne, from 1578-1587 also provost of St. Nicholas. The “Katharinenbuch” also constitutes the charter of the “Scholarchenkammer” (chamber of scholarchs) of the city of Fribourg, in whose possession it remained until the 19th century. The school reform sought by Schneuwly never went into effect because in 1580, also on Schneuwly’s initiative, the Jesuits were called to Fribourg and were entrusted with secondary education. (utz) (source:

Manuscript Summary: This composite manuscript in Northeastern Swiss-Alemannic dialect was probably written for the community of the sisters of St. Georgen above St. Gall; it contains numerous shorter and longer texts by known and unknown authors, among them: pp. 1106: Thomas à Kempis, 3rd book of the Imitatio Christi; pp. 106123: Bonaventure, excerpts from the work De triplici via; pp. 124126: preacher of St. Georgen, sermon Geistliche Blume; pp. 126134: Meister Eckhart (attributed), treatise Von der Vollkommenheit; pp. 135166: Johannes Tauler, sermon on Mt 13,8 and other sermon excerpts; pp. 167181: two anonymous sermons Vom Leiden und Meiden; pp. 184259: treatise from the “Schwester Katrei"; pp. 259268 anonymous didactic dialog with Timothy’s questions to Paul; pp. 271372: Johannes of Neumarkt, excerpts from the 3rd so-called Jerome letter; pp. 377407: Marquard of Lindau, Job-treatise; pp. 409434 and pp. 472481 (wrongly bound together by a bookbinder): Das Buch des Lebens by an anonymous author; pp. 435442: excerpts from Meister Wichwolt (Cronica Alexandri des grossen Königs); pp. 446448: Ps.-Bertold of Regensburg, Bertold’s ten lessons for a spiritual sister. About half of the texts were written by the Reformist monk Friedrich Kölner from Hersfeld, who was active at St. Gall Abbey from 1430 until 1436; the other parts were written in the 15th century by three other hands. (smu) (source: