An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

Thomas à Kempis

(c. 1380-1471). Monastic, priest, and spiritual writer. He was born in Kempen near Koln, Germany. Kempis was educated in the school at Deventer, the Netherlands. It was run by the Brethren of the Common Life, who stressed the necessity of imitating the life of Christ by loving one's neighbor as oneself. He entered the Augustinian Convent of Mt. Saint Agnes near Zwolle, the Netherlands, in 1399. Kempis took his vows in 1407, and was ordained priest in 1413. In 1429 he became subprior of this community and spent the rest of his life there. He is renowned chiefly as the probable author of the Imitatio Christi, the Imitation of Christ. It is a manual of devotion to instruct the Christian in seeking perfection by following Christ as one's model. The book first appeared anonymously in 1418. It stresses asceticism rather than mysticism, and moderate rather than extreme austerity. Kempis died at the Convent of Mt. Saint Agnes. He is commemorated in the Episcopal calendar of the church year on July 24.

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from “An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.