Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Imitation of Christ
A work of spiritual devotion, also sometimes called the "Following of Christ". Its purpose is to instruct the soul in Christian perfection with Christ as the Divine Model. It consists of a series of counsels of perfection written in Latin in a familiar and even colloquial style, and is divided into four parts or books:
- Useful admonitions for a spiritual life,
- Admonitions concerning spiritual things;
- Of interior consolation;
- Of the Blessed Sacrament.
With the exception of the Bible, it is perhaps the most widely read spiritual book in the world. It was first published anonymously in A.D. 1418. Its authorship has been disputed, being attributed to various spiritual writers: St. Bernard, St. Bonaventure, Innocent III, Henry of Kalkar, John à Kempis, Walter Hilton, Jean Charlier de Gerson, and Giovanni Gersen. The claim of Thomas à Kempis has been completely vindicated in recent years. For details as regards the authorship and the nature of the work itself see THOMAS À KEMPIS.