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About this commemoration:
The name of Thomas à Kempis is perhaps more widely known than
that of any other medieval Christian writer. The Imitation of Christ,
which he composed or compiled, has been translated into more
languages than any other book except the Holy Scriptures. Millions of
Christians have found in this manual a treasured and constant source
His name was Thomas Hammerken, and he was born at Kempen in
the Duchy of Cleves about 1380. He was educated at Deventer by the
Brethren of the Common Life, and joined their order in 1399 at their
house of Mount St. Agnes in Zwolle (in the Low Countries). He took
his vows (those of the Augustinian Canons Regular) there in 1407,
was ordained a priest in 1415, and was made sub-prior in 1425. He
died on July 25, 1471.
The Order of the Brethren of the Common Life was founded by
Gerard Groote (1340–1384) at Deventer. It included both clergy and
lay members who cultivated a biblical piety of a practical rather than
speculative nature, with stress upon the inner life and the practice
of virtues. They supported themselves by copying manuscripts and
teaching. One of their most famous pupils was the humanist Erasmus.
Many have seen in them harbingers of the Reformation; but the
Brethren had little interest in the problems of the institutional Church.
Their spirituality, known as the “New Devotion” (Devotio moderna),
has influenced both Catholic and Protestant traditions of prayer and
I Holy Father, who hast nourished and strengthened thy
Church by the inspired writings of thy servant Thomas à
Kempis: Grant that we may learn from him to know what
is necessary to be known, to love what is to be loved, to
praise what highly pleaseth thee, and always to seek to
know and follow thy will; through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one
God, for ever and ever. Amen.
II Holy Father, you have nourished and strengthened your
Church by the inspired writings of your servant Thomas
à Kempis: Grant that we may learn from him to know
what is necessary to be known, to love what is to be loved,
to praise what highly pleases you, and always to seek to
know and follow your will; through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one
God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Preface of a Saint (2)
Text from Holy, Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints © 2010 by The Church Pension Fund. Used by permission.
Links Related to Thomas à Kempis
We invite your reflections about this commemoration and its suitability for the official calendar and worship of The Episcopal Church. How did this person’s life witness to the Gospel? How does this person inspire us in Christian life today?
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