THE IMITATION OF CHRIST
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The Imitation of Christ
Thomas à Kempis, whose family name was Haemmerlein, received the name of Kempis from Kempen, in Holland, the place of his birth. Either Thomas Haemmerlein or Thomas Kempensis would be a more correct name than the form "à Kempis," by which he is generally known; and "Musica Ecclesiastica" is the more correct title of the "Imitatio Christi." It is not even certain that Thomas was the author of it, for the names of other authors have been put forward with more or less probability; but he was certainly its copyist, and the balance of evidence is in favour of his authorship. Thomas was born in 1379, the son of a shoemaker; entered in 1400 a monastery at Agnetenberg, near Zwolle, and died in the monastery on August 8, 1471, with a great reputation for learning and for sanctity. The "Imitation" was completed about 1420. Editions and translations in all principal languages are innumerable; but the definitive edition is the Latin text by Dr. Carl Hirsche, of Hamburg (1874), from which the following epitome has been made. The "Imitation" consists of four books of meditations, which are among the most priceless treasures of Christian literature.
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