Never be entirely idle; but either be reading, or writing,
or praying or meditating or endeavoring something for the public good.
Thomas a Kempis (1380 – 1471)
Thomas à Kempis was a late Medieval Catholic monk and the probable author of The Imitation of Christ, which is one of the best known Christian books on devotion. His name means, "Thomas of Kempen", his home town and in German he is known as Thomas von Kempen. He also is known by various spellings of his family name: Thomas Haemerkken; Thomas Hammerlein; Thomas Hemerken, and Thomas Hämerken.
In 1392 he followed his brother, Jan, to Deventer, Netherlands in order to attend the city school. While attending school in Deventer, Thomas encountered the Brethren of the Common Life, followers of Gerard Groote's Modern Devotion. He attended school in Deventer from 1392 to 1399.
After leaving school, Thomas traveled to Zwolle, Netherlands to visit his brother again, after Jan had become the prior of the Mount St. Agnes monastery. Thereafter, Thomas was invested at the Mount St. Agnes monastery in 1406. He did not become ordained as a priest, however, until almost a decade later. He became a prolific copyist and writer. Thomas received priest's orders in 1413 and was made sub-prior of the monastery in 1429.
Kempis was born at the Lower Rhine region in Kempen, Germany, County of Cleves ca. 1380. He died in 1471 near Zwolle in the Prince-Bishopric of Utrecht, seventy-five miles north of his birthplace.
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