Whoever says “I believe” says “I pledge myself to what
believe.” Communion in faith needs a common language of faith,
normative for all and uniting all in the same confession of faith.
From the beginning, the apostolic Church expressed and
handed on her faith in brief formulae for all.
But already early on,
the Church also wanted to gather the essential elements of its faith
into organic and articulated summaries, intended especially for
candidates for Baptism:
This synthesis of faith was not made to accord with human
opinions, but rather what was of the greatest importance
was gathered from all the Scriptures, to present the one
teaching of the faith in its entirety. And just as the mustard
seed contains a great number of branches in a tiny grain, so
too this summary of faith encompassed in a few words the
whole knowledge of the true religion contained in the Old
and New Testaments.
Such syntheses are called “professions of faith” since they
summarize the faith that Christians profess. They are called
“creeds” on account of what is usually their first word in Latin:
(“I believe”). They are also called “symbols of faith.”
The Greek word
meant half of a broken object, for
example, a seal presented as a token of recognition. The broken parts were
placed together to verify the bearer’s identity. The symbol of faith, then,
is a sign of recognition and communion between believers.
means a gathering, collection, or summary. Asymbol of faith is a summary
of the principal truths of the faith and therefore serves as the first and
fundamental point of reference for catechesis.
The first “profession of faith” is made during Baptism. The
symbol of faith is first and foremost the
Baptism is given “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of
the Holy Spirit,”
the truths of faith professed during Baptism are
2 St. Cyril of Jerusalem,
5, 12: PG 33, 521-524.