The Imitation of Christ
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By Thomas à Kempis | Translated by Ronald Knox & Michael Oakley
The late fourteenth century witnessed the beginning of a new spiritual movement. This movement, as Church historian Henri Daniel-Rops has described, was animated by a desire “for a humble, simple life, soundly based upon discipline and temperate habits,” and its rule of life has been enshrined in this timeless masterpiece: The Imitation of Christ. Spiritual inspiration and sustenance for such saints as Ignatius of Loyola, Thomas More, and Thérèse of Lisieux and second only to the Bible as devotional reading, The Imitation has been translated innumerable times from the original Latin into practically every language of the world.
The Imitation was meant to be, surely, what it is—a sustained irritant which will preserve us, if it is read faithfully, from sinking back into relaxation: from self-conceit, self-pity, self-love. It offers consolation here and there, but always at the price of fresh exertion, of keeping your head pointing up-stream. (Ronald Knox)
This translation, begun by Monsignor Ronald Knox and completed (by express wish of Knox himself) by Michael Oakley following Knox’s death in 1957, captures the “frill-lessness” and crisp candor of the original. From beginning to end, the Knox–Oakley translation confirms the power of The Imitation of Christ to inspire all Christians to take up their cross and become more like unto Christ—and thus more like unto their own true selves.
Thomas à Kempis (1379–1471) was a German-Dutch Catholic priest and Augustinian canon regular. A prolific copyist and author, he transcribed the Holy Bible multiple times and wrote numerous biographies and volumes of sermons. He is remembered, however, for The Imitation of Christ.
Ronald Knox (1888–1957) was an English Catholic priest, theologian, and author. Best known for his English translation of the Scriptures (the “Knox Bible”), he also wrote numerous works of apologetics and collections of sermons, retreat conferences, and lectures, as well as six detective novels.
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