Not exactly RCIA and sharing your feelings

With a biretta tip to St. Louis Catholic, who did a good job with this, we should review what we believe as faithful Catholics.

This is the formula that I used when I was admitted to Holy Church as a convert, though I did it in Latin.  We did this at Vespers on the 4th Sunday of Advent.

The “Professio fidei Tridentina”, also known as the “Creed of Pope Pius IV”, is one of the four authoritative Creeds of the Catholic Church. [Can you name the other 3?] It was issued on November 13, 1565 by Pope Pius IV in his bull “Iniunctum nobis” under the auspices of the Council of Trent (1545 – 1563). It was subsequently modified slightly after the First Vatican Council (1869 – 1870) to bring it inline with the dogmatic definitions of the Council. The major intent of the Creed was to clearly define the Catholic faith against Protestantism. At one time it was used by Theologians as an oath of loyalty to the Church and to reconcile converts to the Church, but it is rarely used these days.


I, N, with a firm faith believe and profess each and everything which is contained in the Creed which the Holy Roman Church maketh use of. To wit:

I believe in one God, The Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the Only-begotten Son of God. Born of the Father before all ages. God of God, Light of Light, true God of true God. Begotten, not made, of one substance with the Father. By whom all things were made. Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven. And became incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary: and was made man. He was also crucified for us, suffered under Pontius Pilate, and was buried. And on the third day He rose again according to the Scriptures. He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead and His kingdom will have no end. And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of life, Who proceeds from the Father and the Son. Who together with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified, and who spoke through the prophets. And one holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. I confess one baptism for the forgiveness of sins and I await the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen.

The Apostolic and Ecclesiastical traditions and all other observances and constitutions of that same Church I firmly admit to and embrace.

I also accept the Holy Scripture according to that sense which holy mother the Church hath held, and doth hold, and to whom it belongeth to judge the true sense and interpretations of the Scriptures. Neither will I ever take and interpret them otherwise than according to the unanimous consent of the Fathers.

I also profess that there are truly and properly Seven Sacraments of the New Law, instituted by Jesus Christ our Lord, and necessary for the salvation of mankind, though not all are necessary for everyone; to wit, Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Penance, Extreme Unction, Holy Orders, and Matrimony; and that they confer grace; and that of these, Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders cannot be repeated without sacrilege. I also receive and admit the accepted and approved ceremonies of the Catholic Church in the solemn administration of the aforesaid sacraments.

I embrace and accept each and everything which has been defined and declared in the holy Council of Trent concerning original sin and justification.

I profess, likewise, that in the Mass there is offered to God a true, proper, and propitiatory sacrifice for the living and the dead; and that in the most holy sacrament of the Eucharist there is truly, really, and substantially, the Body and Blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ; and that a conversion takes place of the whole substance of the bread into the Body, and of the whole substance of the wine into the Blood, which conversion the Catholic Church calls Transubstantiation. I also confess that under either species alone Christ is received whole and entire, and a true sacrament.

I steadfastly hold that there is a Purgatory, and that the souls therein detained are helped by the suffrages of the faithful. Likewise, that the saints, reigning together with Christ, are to be honored and invoked, and that they offer prayers to God for us, and that their relics are to be venerated. I most firmly assert that the images of Christ, of the Mother of God, ever virgin, and also of other Saints, ought to be kept and retained, and that due honor and veneration is to be given them.

I also affirm that the power of indulgences was left by Christ in the Church, and that the use of them is most wholesome to Christian people.

I acknowledge the Holy Catholic Apostolic Roman Church as the mother and teacher of all churches; and I promise true obedience to the Bishop of Rome, successor to St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles, and Vicar of Jesus Christ.

I likewise undoubtedly receive and profess all other things delivered, defined, and declared by the sacred Canons, and general Councils, and particularly by the holy Council of Trent, and by the ecumenical Council of the Vatican, particularly concerning the primacy of the Roman Pontiff and his infallible teaching. I condemn, reject, and anathematize all things contrary thereto, and all heresies which the Church hath condemned, rejected, and anathematized.

This true Catholic faith, outside of which no one can be saved, which I now freely profess and to which I truly adhere, I do so profess and swear to maintain inviolate and with firm constancy with the help of God until the last breath of life. And I shall strive, as far as possible, that this same faith shall be held, taught, and professed by all those over whom I have charge. I N. do so pledge, promise, and swear, so help me God and these Holy Gospels of God.

Somewhat more that most RCIA demands.

I am picturing Fishwrappers flinching at every paragraph.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. romanrevert says:

    The “Professio fidei Tridentina”, also known as the “Creed of Pope Pius IV”, is one of the four authoritative Creeds of the Catholic Church. [Can you name the other 3?]

    Off the top of my head … Nicene Creed, Apostles Creed, and Athanasian Creed?

  2. Joe in Canada says:

    That’s what I would have said. If there could be a fifth, I’d add the “Credo of the People of God” by Pope Venerable Paul VI, if only for its post-Vatican orthodoxy.

  3. Dundonianski says:

    I suspect (and fear) that the final paragraph thereof is problematic to many, even those in high office- and yes I would include Rome.

  4. Unwilling says:

    It is a clear, solemn, unabashed confession of the truth like this that gives a man the courage and enthusiasm to believe with a conscious certainty, to maintain inviolate and with firm constancy with the help of God until the last breath of life, giving himself to the service and succour of “the poor”.

    Without such a vision animating his soul, who can give up his life for others? or his obedience to the Pope?

  5. Geoffrey says:

    This creed was published in booklet form a few years ago, in Latin and English:

  6. lana says:

    @Pax, thank you – I had never heard of the credo of Paul VI. It is beautiful, and it explains that last paragraph of this one more fully.

  7. Priam1184 says:

    Might they be the Apostles Creed, the Nicene-Constantinoplan Creed, and the Athanasian Creed?

  8. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    I, too, think we should add Paul VI’s Credo to the credal canon. It’s an amazing work.

  9. Elizabeth D says:

    That was the profession you made when you converted? And in Latin? That is so awesome! You are sure Catholic if you say all that and double-Catholic if in Latin! Had you already studied Latin?

  10. John of Chicago says:

    It wasn’t until I read Paul VI’s creed for the first time that I realized that the other, familiar creeds omitted so much of the revelation of Christ and His essential teaching–for example Pope Paul’s beautiful sections on “The Son” and the “Temporal World.” I realize that the older creeds were composed in response to various heresies but, nevertheless, it was a bad mistake and misleading, I think, for earlier credal authors to leave out so much that lies at the very core of our faith–such as the Beatitudes.

  11. lana says:

    I am looking…. where are ‘4 authorative creeds’ defined? CCC 192 lists 7 of them, not including Nicene and Apostle’s. CCC 193 says none can be superceded or considered irrelevant, and that _two_ have a ‘special place in the Church’s life’: (Apostle’s and Nicene)

  12. LauraKazlas says:

    I wonder why this creed isn’t used any more? Is there a reason it isn’t used?

  13. LauraKazlas says:

    This creed says ” also accept the Holy Scripture according to that sense which holy mother the Church hath held, and doth hold, and to whom it belongeth to judge the true sense and interpretations of the Scriptures. Neither will I ever take and interpret them otherwise than according to the unanimous consent of the Fathers.”

    However, this is what the USCCB’s current guidelines are about it:

    “That changed after 1943 when Pope Pius XII issued the encyclical Divino Afflante Spiritu. This not only allowed Catholics to study Scripture, it encouraged them to do so. And with Catholics studying Scripture and teaching other Catholics about what they were studying, familiarity with Scripture grew.

    Scripture awareness grew after the Second Vatican Council. Mass was celebrated in the vernacular and so the Scripture readings at Mass were read entirely in English. Adult faith formation programs began to develop, and the most common program run at a parish focused on Scripture study. The Charismatic movement and the rise of prayer groups exposed Catholics to Scripture even more. All of this contributed to Catholics becoming more familiar with the Bible and more interested in reading the Scriptures and praying with them.

    In a round-about way, aspects of U.S. culture also have encouraged Catholics to become more familiar with the Scriptures. References to John 3:16 appear in the stands at sporting events. Catholics who hear of and see other Christians quote or cite Scripture verses wonder why they cannot. Such experiences lead Catholics to seek familiarity with the Bible.

    Such attitudinal changes bode well for Catholics, especially when reading and praying with the Word of God leads to lessons learned, hearts inspired and lives profoundly moved for good.”

  14. pelerin says:

    Reading this convert’s Creed sent me to finding what I had said during my reception into the Church in Britain in 1965.

    ‘I ……. holding in my hand God’s holy Gospels and enlightened by divine grace, publicly declare that I accept the Faith which is taught by the Catholic, Apostolic and Roman Church. I believe that Church to be the one true Church which Jesus Christ set up here on earth; to which I make my submission with all my heart.

    I believe in God, the Father Almighty ….

    I believe that seven sacraments were instituted by Jesus Christ for the salvation of mankind; Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Eucharist, Penance, Extreme Unction, Holy Order, and Matrimony.

    I believe that the Bishop of Rome is the Vicar of Jesus Christ on earth, that he is the supreme visible head of the whole Church, and that he teaches infallibly what we must believe and do for salvation.

    I also believe everything which the Holy Catholic, Apostolic and Roman Church defines and declares that we must believe. To her I give my whole allegiance and I reject every error and schism which she condemns.

    So help me, God, and these his holy Gospels which I touch with my hand.’

    It is a long time since I have read through my reception service and I am glad to be reminded of it by this post. Thank you Fr Z. Sadly the Priest who received me died eleven years ago and one of my sponsors left the Church to join a protestant one.

  15. St. Epaphras says:

    Looks like the profession of faith for converts that the FSSP use. :-)

  16. John of Chicago says:

    I think the 4th recognized creed of the Church comes from the Council of Chalcedon (5th century) which endorsed the Nicean creed (4th century) but clarified that Christ was one person with two “natures,” human and divine.

  17. yatzer says:

    I don’t recall saying anything when I converted. Maybe I did. The whole thing was such a low-key blip attached to a daily Mass that I don’t remember much at all, which I think now is a pity. I didn’t know any different at the time. It would have been great to proclaim the faith I was embracing in one of those magnificent compositions.

  18. Pnkn says:

    10+ years ago in the most unchurched state in the nation, we two were told not to worry about what we had to say, just a few words ( and this for 1 Baptism, 2 Confirmations, 2 Admissions, 1 Reconciliation).
    It was years before I heard of the Examination of conscience – and boy did that make going to confession easier !
    But the two of us “dug deep” into the St. Joseph’s missal and found the Easter Vigil service – much to our horror !! Words ! Meaningful ! To be said in front of the Altar of God and the Tabernacle (although I did not then know what a tabernacle was).
    It took a call to the Abp to let one of us in, as I did not “believe all” and certainly was not going to profess what I did not believe. LOL and , I settled for some as yet unknown reason (it would be the kindly and deferential thing for me to do ?) whereby I would set aside my personal views where they differed from the Church until I understood well enough to explain in depth to others the Church’s errant misunderstanding of homosexual love. Well, it took a few years, but what got me to understanding was a fervent desire to receive Holy Communion, and that desire was stronger than difficulties understanding the intellectual submission to the Church.
    To then memorize the profession – unheard of !

    We shrunk and the Church grew, which is how these professions should go.

  19. Charles E Flynn says:

    I suspect that when this formula is recited by a group of converts, there is a very low probability that they are holding hands.

  20. Legisperitus says:

    Thanks for posting this, Father. I had this in a book but not in English.

  21. theophilus says:

    Interesting creed. I recently noticed that on the ceiling of Lateran, Pius IV is written as Pius IIII? I assume they did it on purpose :)

  22. Gail F says:

    The CCC says “Scripture awareness grew after the Second Vatican Council. Mass was celebrated in the vernacular and so the Scripture readings at Mass were read entirely in English. Adult faith formation programs began to develop, and the most common program run at a parish focused on Scripture study. The Charismatic movement and the rise of prayer groups exposed Catholics to Scripture even more. All of this contributed to Catholics becoming more familiar with the Bible and more interested in reading the Scriptures and praying with them.”

    I think that is wishful thinking — it would be great if this were true. While it is true for many people, I don’t htink the majority of Catholics started Scripture study. Does anyone really believe that?

  23. Gail F says:

    Theophilus: IIII is the old way to write four. I can’t remember when they started using IV but it’s new — new for Latin, that is! IIII is still used on many clock faces.

  24. Hans says:

    This looks very similar to the Profession of Faith and Oath of Fidelity taken before ordination, though I haven’t located the text of the latter to compare them.

  25. Ben Kenobi says:

    This is unusual? Reading through it, this is how I understood confirmation – the promise to follow all of the doctrines of the Church – especially those in response to protestantism. Thanks again, Father Z.

  26. Clinton R. says:

    Why is it in pre Vatican II texts, Catholic is always written with a capital “C” and in post Vatican II texts, Catholic is almost always with a small “C” ?

  27. Imrahil says:

    Nicene Creed, Apostle’s Creed and Paul VI’s creed… as far as “authoritative” goes.

    To which add Athanasian Creed (possibly authoritative, but I wouldn’t know when it was declared such) – the easiest way to understand the Holy Trinity, and the Te Deum. (Yes that’s among other things a creed.)

    Dear @Dundonianski, the last paragraph here – and the beginning and ending of the Athanasian creed – are in presented in the Catechism (I don’t precisely know about Paul VI’s creed) in a way faithful to tradition and dogmatic content which those you mean do profess. It just seems it must be stated that, if we want to go not for possible opinions but binding creedal content, they are in need of heavy interpretation.

  28. Imrahil says:

    correction: the easiest way to be able to talk about the Holy Trinity, or to understand the dogma of the Holy Trinity. Begging your pardon.

  29. rbbadger says:

    I remember seeing in the classical form of the Rituale Romanum the order for the reception of converts. In addition to this creed, there was also the formal abjuration of one’s former heretical beliefs. When I found out about this, I felt a bit cheated. I intended, upon my entrance into the Catholic Church, to make a complete break with the beliefs in which I had been raised. However, given the Diocese in which I was baptized, it would have been unlikely that I would have ever made it. This abjuration of one’s former heresies was meant for those who were to be conditionally baptized (e.g. converts from Protestantism) or those who were already unquestionably validly baptized and were to be received into full communion (e.g. Eastern Orthodox). The Diocese of Salt Lake City has always treated Mormon baptisms as invalid, long before the CDF response of 2001.

    This leads into another point. Given the theological disarray of nearly all mainline Protestant denominations, it may be wise to start doing conditional baptisms for all converts again.

    The old profession of faith and abjuration of heresy may be found here:

  30. Lori Pieper says:

    I can’t help wondering: what is the “Ecumenical Council of the Vatican” being talked about in Pius IV’s document? Vatican I was still a good 300 years in the future at that time.

  31. mike cliffson says:

    Thanks FR!
    Cool! Clear, unvarnished.
    I am reminded oF Bishop Chapuy’s (oath? promise?statement?) requirements for all catequists etc in his previous diocesis.
    BTW, Laura Kazlas reproduces USCCB guidlines, which in substance I have met elsewhere, that DFE CHANGES the assent on Holy writ, since Catholics are ecouraged to, and do go into it.
    This is NOT what I have been taught: summarizing what a priest said : lay Catholics MAY, tentatively and in due humility,prepared to be corrected, SAY “such and such is what I understand GOD is telling ME in this bit of scripture”
    ONLY a priest (and above and beyond, by extension,etc) CAN say ” This , that, and t’other is what GOD is telling US in chapter X, verses y to Z.
    As a teacher, even with the word of MAN alone, Study is not a free-for-all derridaish deconconstruction , you interpretthis your way, I, my way, nobody fish in the middle.

  32. JonPatrick says:

    Lori, I think it said the Creed was modified after the first Vatican council so I suspect the reference to it (“Ecumenical Council of the Vatican”) was added then. There being no Vatican 2 yet, they had no need to call it Vatican 1 :)

  33. MattH says:

    The current version of the Rite of Reception, which, thank God, I went through seven years ago tomorrow, uses the Nicene Creed and then the one additional line “Do you believe and profess all that the holy Catholic Church believes, teaches and proclaims to be revealed by God?” I know I said it thinking of the “all” as including everything in this profession, which I had seen, and everything in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which we had been studying. Unfortunately, I know the quality of instruction varies, and not everyone saying it likely has a very complete idea of what is included in “all” the Church proclaims.

  34. eulogos says:

    I made nearly the same profession of faith as did “Pelerin” above, at St. Mary’s Church in Annapolis Maryland, on Holy Thursday, 1972. Thank you, Pelerin. My copy somehow got ripped in half and I only have half of it, and I was not able to find it on line. I have a picture of St. Mary’s interior in my cubicle here at work, and can see in it the exact spot I knelt to make my profession.

    I think mine went,” I, Susan Peterson, touching with my hand these holy Gospels, and enlightened by divine grace, profess the faith which the Catholic, Apostolic, and Roman Church teaches. I believe that Church to be the one true Church founded by Jesus Christ, to which I adhere with all my heart.

    I think the part about the Pope which is in what Pelerin cites, came next in mine. When I had said it, the priest put his hand on my head, knowing that I had gotten through the hard part. All the rest was essentially the same as Pelerin cites, the Apostles Creed, the seven sacraments, and the “whatever else she defines and declares I do believe, and I renounce every heresy and schism which she condemns.” I think this was considered to be a “layman’s version” of the Tridentine profession of Faith.

    I know some people who were allowed to become Catholic without at all understanding at all what that line added to the Nicene Creed includes, and I really think a more comprehensive profession would be a good thing, although perhaps it needn’t be a creed aimed only at the errors of Protestantism.

    Susan Peterson

  35. The Masked Chicken says:

    “The Charismatic movement and the rise of prayer groups exposed Catholics to Scripture even more.”

    Exposed Catholics to Scripture even more than what? The Bible?? Presumably, people owned and read Scripture long before the Charismatic Renewal. The rise of the modern prayer group has a long and fascinating history (hint: there were groups devoted to prayer and conversation long before Vatican II). The Renewal just made some people a bit monomaniacal about Scripture. This reveals a real lack of depth about what caused the fixation on Scripture coming from the Renewal. It may be a minor effect on history, but for most people the CR and even prayer groups had very little play in exposing them to Scripture. Of much larger effect were the expanded readings at the NO Mass.

    In fact, I will go so far as to say that this is a “fact,” stated without proof. Give an average man from the 1920’s and the 1990’s a test on Scripture and see which actually knew more before making these broad-brush statements. This is bad historical science.

    This is like saying that the presence of the Internet caused people to have more conversations than before Web 2.0. Totally specious reasoning. While this does not violate any faith or morals, it really needs to be proven instead of merely bring asserted.

    Back to the discussion on Creeds. The authoritative Creeds should be listed, as like the books of the Bible, in some Official document, no?

    The Chicken

  36. wmeyer says:

    In fact, I will go so far as to say that this is a “fact,” stated without proof.

    In current usage, the word fact is commonly applied to assertions, hence “true fact” has found common usage, despite being redundant.

    As to the creeds, there is a list in CCC 192. Whether that list is to be taken as comprehensive is not clear, but it does plainly state that old creeds remain valid, and are not replaced by newer.

  37. Athelstan says:

    Hello Masked Chicken,

    Of much larger effect were the expanded readings at the NO Mass.

    Is there any evidence that these have actually increased scriptural literacy?

  38. Minnesotan from Florida says:

    Athelstan, the expanded readings in the Novus Ordo Mass have increased MY scriptural literacy. This is some, though small, evidence.

  39. lana says:

    I am with Minnesotan. Also, hearing it at Mass, it sticks with me throughout the day. Although I have to admit the psalms always bored me. I never got the spirit of the psalms until I started praying loads of them in the Divine Office. And then that also explained the spirit with which the Rosary should be prayed. But the point is, there is too little of the psalms in the Novus Ordo to do them justice.

    The other books, I definitely think I read the OT more than I otherwise would, my interest being piqued by the selections in the Mass. I also did some reading on my own on the historical background so I can understand the context better. By now I have a good idea of all the ups and downs, exiles and returns, splitting of kingdoms, mostly bad and some good kings, etc…etc…. It is
    quite interesting.

    On the flip side, my mom always thought the readings in the old days were in Latin because we are
    not supposed to know them!

    So anyways, you now have one more data point. Probably more than you wanted to hear.

  40. lana says:

    So….. is Fr. Z going to tell us what ARE the 4 authorative creeds??? I am now curious.

  41. Nan says:

    @JonPatrick and Lori Pieper, my Bishop Schenk’s 1962 card with John XXIII’s prayer to the Holy Spirit for the Success of the Ecumenical Council doesn’t indicate that there had been a previous council.

  42. Sonshine135 says:

    I would agree with the Chicken that the NO has increased my scriptural understanding. I like the thematic relationship of the Old and New Testament readings. This has helped me to see the New Testament through the Old. My daily scriptural study also includes heavy doses of Old Testament, New Testament, and Wisdom readings.

    To the original post- thanks for sharing this Creed Father. I recall only stating that I believe all that the Holy Catholic Church teaches, believes, and professes during my confirmation. It is not a stretch to believe that Catechumens that profess the same murmur “whatever that is” under their breath based on some of the programs I have encountered.

  43. Gaz says:

    Thank you Fr Z. I have a copy of “Manual of Episcopal Ceremonies” from 1948, given to me by a dear friend and priest, lately deceased (his funeral was yesterday). The last item in the book (before the glossary and index) is “the Profession of Faith to be made by a dying Bishop. It goes like this…

    After having confessed his sins, the Bishop is vested in rochet and White stole. In the presence of the Blessed Sacrament he reads the following Profession of Faith prescribed by Pope Pius IV.

    “Ego N. firma fide credo … … …”

    There is a suggestion about making the last bit more relevant to the circumstances as this creed is framed for bishops at the outset of their episcopal ministry. It has some ideas on what to do if the poor bugger doesn’t have the strength to read it all (pastoral).

    “After the Profession of Faith, the Bishop receives the Holy Viaticum and Extreme Unction.”

    Your post provided me with the useful historical context around this puzzling item. Thank you very much for the post and… Please pray for my friend.

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