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Compendium of the Catechism

The Church’s Book of Questions and Answers

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The Art of the Compendium is a visual synthesis of our Faith

The images for the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church were chosen by Pope Benedict. Each work of art can be seen as a ‘window’ to the Christian mystery expressed in it. Anyone who spent time seeking to understand and appreciate these ‘windows’ would have a rich insight into the truths of the faith which it also sets out in the more matter-of-fact form of Questions and Answers. Subsequent to the opening icon of Jesus Christ depicted as Teacher and 'Ruler of All', the art of the Compendium presents a visual synthesis of the Faith of the Church which can be summarised like this:

Part 1: The Profession of Faith

The encounter between God and humankind in Christ (The Adoration of the Magi)
which was in the mind of God from the beginning (The Days of Creation)
culminated in the life-giving death of Jesus on the Cross (The Tree of Life).

Part 2: The Celebration of the Christian Mystery

This life-giving death is celebrated and made present through the ages in the Eucharist (Communion of the Apostles)through the agency of the Church (Mother of the Redeemer Mosaic)                                                                       and her Sacraments: (Seven Sacraments Triptych).

Part 3: Life in Christ

Through union with Christ in the Sacraments (Last Supper) we are able to live the life of Christ. 
We have as our model, Mary, the first and perfect disciple and mother and model of the Church (St John contemplating the immaculate Conception)                                                                                                                                and we have the law of Christ, set out for us most explicitly in the (Sermon on the Mount).

Part 4: Christian Prayer

So, united in the Holy Spirit through prayer (Icon of Pentecost),
to the mysteries of Christ through the Church’s Liturgy (Icon of the Main Liturgical Feasts),
and drawing upon the example of Jesus own prayer and the words he taught us (Jesus at Prayer in Gethsemane),
we are ready to fulfil the purpose for which we were created: to know love and serve God and each other and join in the cosmic hymn of praise (Angelic Singers).

Two other aspects of the Compendium which add to its interest and value are the extracts from the writings of the Saints which are interspersed through out the text and the collection of traditional prayers which conclude it.


All images in this unit are used with permission of the Vatican editors of the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church excepting the following whose permission we acknowledge:

The Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp: Triptych of the Seven Sacraments Rogier Van der Weyden
The Toledo Museum of Art: Jesus At Prayer in Gethsemane El Greco
Br Lawrence Lew OP: Photograph of the Tree of Life apse mosaic San Clemente Rome
The Uffizi Gallery: The Adoration of the Magi Gentile Da Fabriano and The Sermon on the Mount Fra Angelico