THE SLOVAK National Library (SNK) has published a unique book within its Sources to the Spiritual History of Slovakia series, the Bardejov Catechism, which dates back to 1581. The book is considered to be the oldest from the territory of Slovakia written in the local codified language of Slovakised Czech.

“The book [serves as] a pioneering probe of the research of the cultural history of Slovakia. The issue of this work was inspired by a Slovak expert of Slavonic studies, Ľubomír Ďurovič, and it was prepared for publishing by a team of historians, philologists, theologians and bibliographers in cooperation with graphic designer Peter Ďurík,” SNK spokesperson Michaela Štefková told the TASR newswire.

“The book is the Slovak translation and adaptation of the ‘Small Catechism’ of Martin Luther,” she said, adding that the group of researchers started the project in 2009 with the goal of obtaining a clear understanding of the original format of the oldest Slovak book and its authentic text, including sections that were damaged or lost. The preserved copy of the Bardejov Catechism was damaged by the bookbinder, who unprofessionally cut off the upper section, thus complicating the process of reproducing its original layout. The upper lines are partially or completely missing as a result.

Part of the impetus for publishing the book was to enhance and deepen the knowledge of Slovak history, especially its literary culture in the 16th century, as well as the history of Christianity and the Reformation in Slovakia. The Bardejov Catechism was the only issue printed among numerous others in Latin, German and Hungarian, according to Dávid Gutgesell, a book printer in Bardejov. Thus, the catechism is called “the Bardejov one”.