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"QUI SEQUITUR ME"

Imitatio Christi.
Venice: [Johannes Leoviler, de Hallis] for Franciscus de Madiis, 1486.

Despite the existence of the autograph manuscript of the Imitatio Christi by Thomas à Kempis at Brussels and the testimony of several contemporary sources, the authorship of the Imitatio Christi was credited to others only a few years after the author’s death in 1471. The primary recipient of this misplaced fame was Jean Gerson (1363–1429), the influential theologian and Chancellor of the University of Paris, but the text also was assigned to other authors including Geert Groote, the founder of the Devotio Moderna, and the twelfth-century Cistercian, St. Bernard of Clairvaux. Although the issue remained controversial into modern times, most scholars now consider the authorship of Thomas à Kempis to be beyond dispute.

This Venetian edition of 1486 is one of many that attribute the Imitatio Christi to Jean Gerson in the incipit preceding the text. Here, the blank space for the initial Q has been illuminated with gold leaf and handsome vegetal decoration in the Venetian style. The opening text, “Qui sequitur me,” is a quotation of Christ’s words in John 8:12, “He that followeth me walketh not in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”