Its origin is disputed. A tradition in the Middle Ages held that after Pentecost, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, each of the twelve apostles spoke one of the articles (the Creed is divided into 12 articles). Other stories claim that the apostles wrote it. These explanations are considered unlikely, and a more accepted claim is that it developed in 5th century Gaul from the Old Roman Symbol, an earlier creed shorter than but similar to the Apostles' Creed.
The word "catholic" in the Apostles' Creed is from the Latin word catholicus meaning "universal", from the Greek katholicos, from kata- thoroughly and holos whole, in the sense of seeking out and embracing all peoples of all times in all places included under the universal authority of one Lord, one God (see Matthew 28:18-20). It was first used in reference to the Christian Church in writing by Ignatius of Antioch at the beginning of the 2nd century.
Text, divided into the 12 articles
- 1. I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
- 2. I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
- 3. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary.
- 4. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.
- 5. He descended into hell. On the third day he rose again.
- 6. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.
- 7. He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
- 8. I believe in the Holy Spirit,
- 9. the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints,
- 10. the forgiveness of sins,
- 11. the resurrection of the body,
- 12. and the life everlasting.