Kempis, Thomas A

, a pious and learned regular canon, and one of the most eminent men in the fifteenth century, was born 1380, at Kemp, a village in the diocese oi Cologn, from whence he took his name. He studied at Deventer, in the community of poor scholars established by Gerard Groot, made great progress both in learning and piety, and in 1399 entered the monastery of regular canons of Mount St. Agnes, near Zwol, where his brother was prior. Thomas a Kempis distinguished himself in this situation by his eminent piety, his respect for his superiors, and his charity towards his brethren; and died in great reputation for sanctity, July 25, 1471, aged ninetyone. He left a great number of religious works, which breathe a spirit of tender, solid, and enlightened piety, of which a collection was printed at Antwerp, 1615, 3 torn. 8vo. The abbe de Bellegarde translated part of his works into French, under the title of “Suite du Livre de I’lmitation,” 24mo, and Pere Valette, under that of “Elevation a J. C. sur sa vie et ses mysteries,” 12mo. The learned Joducus Badius Ascensius was the first who attributed the celebrated book on the Imitation of Jesus Christ to Thomas a Kempis, in which he has been followed by Francis de Tob, a regular canon, who in favour of this opinion quotes the Mss. which may still be seen in Thomas a Kempis’s own hand. On the other hand, Pere Possevin, a Jesuit, was the first who attributed this work to the | abbot John Gersen or Gessen, in his “Apparatus sacer,” which opinion has been adopted by the Benedictines of the congregations de St. Maur. M. Vallart, in his edition of the “Imitation,” supposes it to be more ancient than Thomas a Kempis, and that it was written by Gersen. Those who wish to be acquainted with the disputes which arose on this subject between the Benedictines, who are for Gersen, and the regular canons of the congregation of St. Genevieve, who are for Thomas a Kempis, may consult the curious account of them which Dom. Vincent Thuilier nas prefixed to torn. 1. of Mabillon’s and Ruinart’s Posthumous Works, or Dupin’s History, who has also entered deeply into the controversy. The first Latin edition is 1492, 12mo, Gothic. There was at that time an old French translation under the title of ‘L’lnternelle Consolation,“the language of which appears as old as Thomas a Kempis, which has raised a doubt whether the book was originally written in Latin or French. The abbe” Langlet has taken a chapter from this ancient translation, which is not in the Latin versions. Dr. Stanhope translated it into English, and there are numerous editions of it in every known language. 1


Cave, vol. II.—Dupin.—Moreri.—Much information respecting the editions and the author in a series of letters in Gent. Mag. vols. LXXXIII. and LXXXIV.