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De imitatione Christi




Imitatio Christi

De imitatione Christi

De Contemptu Mundi

Name of the Portuguese translation

Imitação de Cristo (pt.024)


Probably Thomas a Kempis (Kempen, 1379/80 - Zwolle, 1471) See Cepeda 1993: 322; von Habsburg 2011: 2-5; Creasy, 2007: xvii-xxi.




Mystical treatise connected to the spiritual movement called deuotio moderna. In the book, the author defends the value of prayer and love for Jesus Christ, talking about the value of the virtues, the correct choice of priorities, the richness of the inner life, Eucharistic devotion, etc. (Scully, 1912; Cepeda 1993: 322; von Habsburg 2011: 12-30). Although anonymous, some references seem to indicate that the author of the work might have been Thomas a Kempis, monk and author of numerous religious studies.


Probably 1418.


Monastery of Mount St. Agnes, Zwolle

Extant testimonies

The text knew a great popularity: a century after it was written, there were already about 800 copied manuscripts and about 100 printed editions in early 1500 (von Habsburg 2011: 1, 49-50). The first printed version dates to 1472 (Augsburg, Benedictine Abbey of St. Ulrich and Afra), just one year after the death of Kempis. At the time, there were copies both in Latin and in vernacular languages.

The manuscript that contains the reference to the name of Thomas a Kempis (Finitus et completus anno domini m.cccc.xli. per manus fratris thome kempis in monte sacncte agnetis prope zwollis) is from 1441 and it is located at the Real Biblioteca de Bruxelas (MS 5855-61). See Creasy, 2007: ix, xx.

In the Biblioteca Nacional de Portugal, there are some copies:

- ALC. 71//3, Veneza (1486);

- INC. 281, Milão (1488);

- INC. 972 e INC. 1369, Veneza (1496/97).


Online there are several editions, including a 1492 incunabula:

A KEMPIS, THOMAS (1492). Imitatio Christi (e GERSON, Johannes. De meditatione cordis). Nuremberga: Anton Koberger.

THOMAS (1867), De imitatione Christi libri quatuor. Londres: MacMillan (Williams et Norgate).



SCULLY, Vincent. "Thomas à Kempis." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 14. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. Acedido online a 21 de fevereiro de 2013 em http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/14661a.htm

VON HABSBURG, Maximilian (2011), Catholic and Protestant Translations of the Imitatio Christi, 1425–1650. From Late Medieval Classic to Early Modern Bestseller. Farnham: Ashgate Publishing.

TYLENDA, Joseph N. (1998). The Imitation of Christ. Vintage Spiritual Classics.

CREASY, William C. (2007). The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis: A New Reading of the 1441 Latin Autograph Manuscript. Macon: Mercer University Press.