- Thomas à Kempis
- (1380-1471)Monk of the religious community of St. Agnietenberg near Zwolle in the Netherlands, part of the Windesheim Congregation of Augustinian canons regular. Born at Kempen near Cologne in western Germany, he came under the influ-ence of Geert Groote, the founder of the late-medieval spiritual move-ment known as Devotio Moderna. Although too young to have known Groote in person, he admired his ideas and wrote his biography. Thomas' fame comes from his probable authorship of an influential book of religious meditations, The Imitation of Christ, written in Latin but soon translated into Dutch, French, High German, and other west-ern European languages. This book is hostile to the speculative theol-ogy of scholasticism and emphasizes personal religious experience by the individual over the external and ritualistic aspects of religion. Yet in it Thomas still gives the sacraments of the church, especially the Eucharist, a significant role in spiritual life. His book constantly quotes from the Bible and is notable because it does not refer to any other source.
Historical Dictionary of Renaissance. Charles G. Nauert. 2004.