“Ripalda’s Catecismo is the most famous one that has ever been published”—Wagner

First Edition in Nahuatl, complete with Ortuño’s Copper-Engraved Plate

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507. RIPALDA, Gerónimo de & Ignacio de Paredes (translator). CATHOLIC CHURCH. CATECHISM. [First title, in Spanish] Catecismo mexicano, que contiene toda la Doctrina Christiana con todas sus Declaraciones: en que el Ministro de Almas hallará, lo que á estas hallarán lo que, para salvarse, deben saber, creer, y observar. Dispusolo primeramente en Castellano el padre Geronymo de Ripalda de la Compania de Jesus. Y despues para la comun utilidad de los Indios; y especialmente para alguna ayuda de sus zelosos Ministros, clara, genuina, y literalmente lo traduxo del Castellano, en el puro, y propio Idioma Mexicano el padre Ignacio de Paredes de la misma Compañia de Jesus. Y le añadio la Doctrina pequeña con otras cosas, à todos utilissimas, para la vida del Christiano, que se hallarán en el Indice, que está al fin de esta Obra. Y el mismo, no menos afectuoso, que reverente, y rendido, lo dedica al Ilmô Señor D.D. Manuel Joseph Rubio, y Salinas, Dignissimo Arzbispo de esta Diecesi [sic] de Mexico, del Consejo de su Magestad, &c. [Second title, in Nahuatl] Christianoyotl mexicanemachtiloni, in itech onactica, ihuan ontzauctica, in Imelahualoca, ihuan in Icaquiztica in izquitlamantli nepapan Teotlatolli, ihuan Teometachtilli; in cemixquich in Teotlatolli, ihuan Teotemtachtilli; in cemixquich in Teotlaneltocani, in Christiano Tlacatl ca huei inahuatil, huei imamal, inic cacicamatiz, quichicahua caneltocaz, ihuan quitequipanoz, inic momaquixtiz. Auh yehuatlin Temachtilli oquimachtopatecpanil Caxtillancopa in Toteopixcatazin Yéhuatzin Padre Geronymo de Ripalda de la Compañia de Jesus. Auh çanyeno nican îculiuhtoc in Tepiton Teotlâtolli, ihuan in oc izquitlamantli quallachihualli, in itech huel onmonequi in iyecnemiliz, in Christiano. Aut çanno yehuatzin huei tetlaçotlaliztica, Temahuiztililiztica, ihuan nepechtequiliztica, quimohuemmanililia in Cenquizcamahuiztililont, Cenquizcaixtililoni, in huei Teopixcatepachócatzintli, Yehuatzin in Mahuiztic Tlatoani, D.D. Manuel Joseph Rubio, y Salinas, Teoyotica Ichcapixcatzintli, çaçenca huel Tlacnopilhuiani Arzobispo, in iz Tlâtocayopán, itocayocan Mexico, moteyacanilia; ihuan çanyenoyuhqui in itech ommopohuitia in Tlatocanenônotzaloyan, in ompa Castillan mantimani, &c. In nican Mexico omotepuzicuilo in Tepuztlâcuiloloyan, in Ixpan S. Agustin mantimani, ipan inin, in tichualtoca, Xihuitl 1758. Mexico: Con las licencias necessarias, y permisso de la Congregaciion de la Anunciata de S. Pedro, y S. Pablo, en Mexico, en la Imprenta de la Biblioteca Mexicana, enfrente de San Augustin. Año de 1758. [30], 1-17, [2] pp., copper-engraved plate preceding title in Nahuatl: S. Francisco Xavier Apostol de las Yndias. | Ortuño Sc. | Mexō. 1758 (St. Francis Xavier teaching Native American children and shown speaking the words “Venite Filij, audite me. Ps. 33” [“Come, you children, listen to me. Psalms 33 <i.e., 34:11>“]), cherub above holding banner reading: “Pavperes Evangelizantur. Luc. 7” [“To the poor the gospel is preached, Luke 7 <i.e. 7:22>“], background with ships on a waterway and receding landscape with architecture; plate mark: 12.2 x 8.2 cm; sheet size: 14.4 x 10 cm), woodcut coat of arms of the Archbishop of Mexico, a few woodcut initials and ornaments. 12mo (15 x 11 cm), full modern vellum in antique style, gilt borders on covers, title in sepia ink on spine, recent rawhide stitching (binder’s ink stamp on front free endpaper: Bragalla 1970). Ink stamp on verso of plate (13213 Jun 6 1906). Title page professionally restored, with a small section of ornamental border supplied in expert pen facsimile. Except for occasional light browning and a few small stains, very good, much better condition than usually found. Plate excellent. Preserved in a fleece-lined slipcase (patterned paper over boards). This book is very difficult to find complete.

     First edition of Ripalda’s catechism in Nahuatl, translated by Ignacio de Paredes (first edition, Burgos, 1591). Brasseur de Bourbourg, Bibl. Mex.-Guat., pp. 117-188. Brinton Library 3561. Brunet VIII (Supplement II) cols. 485-486. Bulletin of the New York Public Library (1909), “List of Works relating to Mexico”, p. 176. Field 1305. García Icazbalceta, Lenguas 56. JCB III (1, 1700-1771) #1191. JCB online Indian Languages Database. Leclerc, Bibliotheca Americana (1878) 2334. León Portilla, Tepuztlahcuilolli 2286. Medina, México 4500. Palau 269110. Pilling 2891. Sabin 71488. Sánchez, Doctrina cristiana del Jerónimo de Ripalda 62. Sommervogel,  Bibliothèque de la Compagnie de Jésus VI:210–211. Ugarte 290. Viñaza 341. Henry R. Wagner, “Some Bibliographical Notes Concerning Jeronimo de Ripalda’s ‘Catecismo’“ in California Historical Society Quarterly, Vol. 16, No. 4 (December, 1937), pp. 373-375:

Ripalda’s Catecismo is the most famous one that has ever been published. According to Backer-Sommervogel, 25 editions are known of the Eighteenth Century and 26 of the Nineteenth Century. Sanchez cites 471 down to 1900 and I know of several others. Father Andrade, in the Noticias de Mexico of Francisco Sedano, stated that in addition to numerous editions in Spanish, Ripalda’s Catecismo had been translated into forty-five different languages, and he omitted two that are known today. The book was translated into Zapoteca by Francisco Pacheco y Silva and printed in Mexico in 1687; again in Puebla in 1689, and in Mexico in 1776. It was also translated into Mixteca, of which editions appeared in Puebla in 1719 and 1775. The first edition in Mexican [i.e., Nahuatl], arranged by Paredes, was published in Mexico in 1758. So far as known, the first Spanish edition printed in Mexico was that by Maria de Rivera in 1749. In 1770 it also appeared with a license of 1768 to Joseph de Xauregui. On July 16, 1783, Pedro de la Rosa, a Puebla printer, obtained an exclusive license from the Viceroy to print this Catecismo and some other spiritual works. The Catecismo appeared in 1784 with the title Catecismo y exposicion breve de la Doctrina Cristiana. Rosa kept putting out new editions, of which I have records of one in 1794, others in 1806, 1808, and one as late as 1828. The book was frequently reprinted thereafter in Puebla by Rosa, and in Mexico City by other printers; Murguia, for instance, reprinted it in 1859 and 1864.

     Jesuit Father Gerónimo de Ripalda (1536?-1618), a native of Spain, is best remembered for this catechism, which was reprinted innumerable times and translated into several languages such as this one in Nahuatl. The catechism was authorized by the Mexican Provincial Council of 1585 as the official version to be used throughout the Archdiocese and Dioceses of Mexico. Several translations were made, but this edition is considered to be the definitive one in the Nahuatl language (see Beristain). The work also contains questions and answers about doctrine by Bartolomé Castaño (see herein). Translator Ignacio de Paredes (1703-1770) was a renowned Jesuit translator and authority on the Nahuatl language. He is best known for his important Promptuario manual mexicano (1759), instructing priests and missionaries how to teach Indians in their native language of Nahuatl (see Paredes herein). The work includes an exhortation to Native Americans to read and learn this catechism.

     Ripalda’s Catechismo was one of the basic three “C’s” (Cartilla, Catechism, and Cato) used by bilingual teachers to teach children in New Spain. Many children, both Native and non-Native, were exposed only to reciting Ripalda’s Catechism because their parents removed them from school before they learned to write. See James Alan Marten, Children in Colonial America (New York University Press, 2007).

     The small but richly complex engraving by Mexican engraver José Benito Ortuño illustrating Francis Xavier teaching Native American children is cited by both Mathes and Romero de Terreros. Mathes, La Ilustración en México colonial: “Following mid-century, in Mexico, numerous plates signed by José Benito Ortuño, Calle de la Profesa, included, in...1758...San Francisco Xavier for P. Ignacio de Paredes, Catecismo Mexicano.” Romero de Terreros, Grabados y grabadores de Nueva España, pp. 520-522 (plate cited at p. 520).


Sold. Hammer: $1,500.00; Price Realized: $1,837.50.

Auction 23 Abstracts

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