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Thomas à Kempis

Thomas à Kempis




Thomas à Kempis, born Thomas Hemerken in 1380, was a German-Dutch canon regular of the late medieval period, best known for his work "The Imitation of Christ," which has been translated into numerous languages and is considered one of the most influential Christian devotional books. Born in Kempen, a town in the Rhineland, Thomas was the son of a blacksmith. At the age of 12, he was sent to the school at Deventer in the Netherlands, run by the Brethren of the Common Life, a pietist religious community.

Thomas entered the Mount St. Agnes monastery near Zwolle in 1399, where his brother John had become a priest. This community was part of the Augustinian Canons Regular, and it provided Thomas with a place to study and deepen his spiritual life. He took his vows in 1407 and was ordained a priest in 1413. His life at the monastery was marked by periods of intense writing, contemplation, and devotion to his monastic duties.

"The Imitation of Christ" is his most famous work, written in Latin between 1418 and 1427. The book is divided into four books: Admonitions Useful for a Spiritual Life, Admonitions Leading to the Interior Life, Of Internal Consolation, and The Sacrament of the Altar. Each book offers practical and spiritual advice on how to live a life of humility, piety, and devotion, emphasizing the need to emulate Christ in one's daily life. The text has been highly influential in both Catholic and Protestant traditions, valued for its clear, direct style and profound insights into the spiritual life.

Thomas also wrote other spiritual treatises, hymns, and biographical works about the founders of his religious order. His writings reflect his deep piety and commitment to the principles of the Devotio Moderna movement, which stressed personal devotion and practical piety over scholastic learning and theological debate.

Thomas à Kempis died on July 25, 1471, at Mount St. Agnes. His legacy endures through his writings, particularly "The Imitation of Christ," which continues to inspire Christians around the world with its call to a simple, devout, and Christ-centered life.


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Place of Birth: Kempen, Germany



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Date of Birth: 1380

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