The Heidelberg Catechism
This document is called the Heidelberg Catechism because it originated in Heidelberg, the capital of the German Electorate of the Palatinate, at the behest of the Elector, Frederick III. In order that the Calvinistic Reformation might gain the ascendancy in his domain, this pious ruler charged Zacharias Ursinus, professor at the Heidelberg University and Caspar Olevianus, the court preacher, with the preparation of a manual for catechetical instruction. The result was a new Catechism, which, after having been approved by the Elector himself and by a gathering of prominent Calvinists, was published in the beginning of the year 1563. Its immediate popularity was indicated by the fact that the same year three more editions had to be printed. Moreover, the book was made to serve a new purpose, namely, to be used as a manual for doctrinal preaching on the Lord’s Day. In the third edition the questions and answers were grouped into 52 sections, called Lord’s Days, that the entire Catechism might be explained to the churches once a year.
View a PDF with the full text of the Heidelberg Catechism.