Jean Gerson

Jean Gerson

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Jean Charlier de Gerson (December 13, 1363 – July 12, 1429), French
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 scholar, educator, reformer, and poet, Chancellor of the University of Paris
Chancellor of the University of Paris
The Chancellor of the University of Paris was originally the chancellor of the chapter of Notre Dame de Paris. The University of Paris ceased to exist in 1970, though the related position, Chancellor of the Universities of Paris is currently held by Maurice Quénet.-13th century:*Praepositinus...

, a guiding light of the conciliar movement and one of the most prominent theologians at the Council of Constance
Council of Constance
The Council of Constance is the 15th ecumenical council recognized by the Roman Catholic Church, held from 1414 to 1418. The council ended the Three-Popes Controversy, by deposing or accepting the resignation of the remaining Papal claimants and electing Pope Martin V.The Council also condemned and...

, was born at the village of Gerson
Gerson
Gerson may refer to:*Gérson or Gérson de Oliveira Nunes , Brazilian football player*Dora Gerson , German Jewish actress and cabaret singer killed at Auschwitz...

, in the bishopric of Reims in Champagne
Champagne, France
Champagne is a historic province in the northeast of France, now best known for the sparkling white wine that bears its name.Formerly ruled by the counts of Champagne, its western edge is about 100 miles east of Paris. The cities of Troyes, Reims, and Épernay are the commercial centers of the area...

.

His parents, Arnulphe Charlier and Élisabeth de la Chardenière, "a second Monica
Monica of Hippo
Saint Monica is a Christian saint and the mother of Augustine of Hippo, who wrote extensively of her virtues and his life with her in his Confessions.-Life:...

," were pious peasants, and seven of their twelve children, four daughters and three sons, devoted themselves to a religious life. Young Gerson was sent to Paris to the famous college of Navarre when fourteen years of age. After a five years' course he obtained the degree of licentiate of arts, and then began his theological studies under two very celebrated teachers, Gilles des Champs (Aegidius Campensis) and Pierre d'Ailly
Pierre d'Ailly
Pierre d'Ailly was a French theologian, astrologer, and cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church....

 (Petrus de Alliaco), rector of the college of Navarre, chancellor
Chancellor of the University of Paris
The Chancellor of the University of Paris was originally the chancellor of the chapter of Notre Dame de Paris. The University of Paris ceased to exist in 1970, though the related position, Chancellor of the Universities of Paris is currently held by Maurice Quénet.-13th century:*Praepositinus...

 of the university, and afterwards bishop of Puy, archbishop of Cambrai and cardinal
Cardinal (Catholicism)
A cardinal is a senior ecclesiastical official, usually an ordained bishop, and ecclesiastical prince of the Catholic Church. They are collectively known as the College of Cardinals, which as a body elects a new pope. The duties of the cardinals include attending the meetings of the College and...

. Pierre d'Ailly remained his life-long friend, and in later life the pupil seems to have become the teacher (see preface to Liber de vita Spir. Animae).

Gerson and the University of Paris


Gerson very soon attracted the notice of the university. He was elected procurator for the French 'nation
Nation (university)
Student nations or simply nations are regional corporations of students at a university. Once widespread across Europe in medieval times, they are now largely restricted to the ancient universities of Sweden and Finland...

' (the French-born Francophone students at the University) in 1383, and again in 1384, in which year he graduated bachelor of theology
Theology
Theology is the systematic and rational study of religion and its influences and of the nature of religious truths, or the learned profession acquired by completing specialized training in religious studies, usually at a university or school of divinity or seminary.-Definition:Augustine of Hippo...

. Three years later a still higher honour was bestowed upon him; he was sent along with the chancellor and others to represent the university in a case of appeal taken to the pope. John of Montson
John of Montson
John of Montson was an Aragonese Dominican theologian and controversialist. His refusal to give up his beliefs regarding the Immaculate Conception resulted in his condemnation andclandestine exile to Spain.-Condemnation of his opinions:He joined the Dominicans probably in Valencia...

 (Monzón
Monzón
Monzón is a small town in the autonomous community of Aragon, Spain. It has a population of 17,050. It is located in the northeast and adjoins the rivers Cinca and Sosa.-Historical overview:...

, de Montesono), an Aragon
Aragon
Aragon is a modern autonomous community in Spain, coextensive with the medieval Kingdom of Aragon. Located in northeastern Spain, the Aragonese autonomous community comprises three provinces : Huesca, Zaragoza, and Teruel. Its capital is Zaragoza...

ese Dominican
Dominican Order
The Order of Preachers , after the 15th century more commonly known as the Dominican Order or Dominicans, is a Catholic religious order founded by Saint Dominic and approved by Pope Honorius III on 22 December 1216 in France...

 who had recently graduated as doctor of theology at Paris, had in 1387 been condemned by the faculty of theology because he had taught that the Virgin Mary, like other ordinary descendants of Adam, was born in original sin; and the Dominicans, who were fierce opponents of the doctrine of the immaculate conception
Immaculate Conception
The Immaculate Conception of Mary is a dogma of the Roman Catholic Church, according to which the Virgin Mary was conceived without any stain of original sin. It is one of the four dogmata in Roman Catholic Mariology...

, were expelled from the university.

John of Montson appealed to Pope Clement VII
Pope Clement VII
Clement VII , born Giulio di Giuliano de' Medici, was a cardinal from 1513 to 1523 and was Pope from 1523 to 1534.-Early life:...

 at Avignon
Avignon
Avignon is a French commune in southeastern France in the départment of the Vaucluse bordered by the left bank of the Rhône river. Of the 94,787 inhabitants of the city on 1 January 2010, 12 000 live in the ancient town centre surrounded by its medieval ramparts.Often referred to as the...

, and Pierre d'Ailly, Gerson and the other university delegates, while they personally supported the doctrine of the immaculate conception, were content to rest their case upon the legal rights of the university to test in its own way its theological teachers. Gerson's biographers have compared his journey to Avignon with Luther
Martin Luther
Martin Luther was a German priest, professor of theology and iconic figure of the Protestant Reformation. He strongly disputed the claim that freedom from God's punishment for sin could be purchased with money. He confronted indulgence salesman Johann Tetzel with his Ninety-Five Theses in 1517...

's visit to Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

. It is certain that from this time onwards he was zealous in his endeavours to spiritualize the universities, to reform the morals of the clergy, and to put an end to the schism
Western Schism
The Western Schism or Papal Schism was a split within the Catholic Church from 1378 to 1417. Two men simultaneously claimed to be the true pope. Driven by politics rather than any theological disagreement, the schism was ended by the Council of Constance . The simultaneous claims to the papal chair...

 which then divided the church.

In 1392 Gerson was awarded licentiate, receiving his doctorate of theology in 1394; and in 1395, when Pierre d'Ailly was made bishop of Puy, he was, at the early age of thirty-two, elected Chancellor of the University of Paris
Chancellor of the University of Paris
The Chancellor of the University of Paris was originally the chancellor of the chapter of Notre Dame de Paris. The University of Paris ceased to exist in 1970, though the related position, Chancellor of the Universities of Paris is currently held by Maurice Quénet.-13th century:*Praepositinus...

, and made a canon of Notre Dame
Notre Dame de Paris
Notre Dame de Paris , also known as Notre Dame Cathedral, is a Gothic, Roman Catholic cathedral on the eastern half of the Île de la Cité in the fourth arrondissement of Paris, France. It is the cathedral of the Catholic Archdiocese of Paris: that is, it is the church that contains the cathedra of...

. The university was then at the height of its fame, and its chancellor was necessarily a man prominent not only in France but in Europe, sworn to maintain the rights of his university against both king and pope, and entrusted with the conduct and studies of a vast crowd of students attracted from almost every country in Europe. Gerson's writings bear witness to his deep sense of the responsibilities, anxieties and troubles of his position. He was all his days a man of letters, and an analysis of his writings is his best biography. His work has three periods, in which he was engaged in reforming the university studies, maturing plans for overcoming the schism (a task which after 1404 absorbed all his energies), and in the evening of his life writing books of devotion.

Gerson's writings


Gerson wished to banish scholastic subtleties from the studies of the university, and at the same time to put some evangelical warmth into them, giving them a more spiritual and practical focus. He was called at this period of his life Doctor Christianissimus; later his devotional and pastoral writings brought him the title Doctor Consolatorius. His plan was to make theology plain and simple by founding it on the philosophical principles of nominalism. His method was a clear exposition of the principles of theology where clearness was possible, with a due recognition of the place of mystery in the Christian system of doctrine. Like the great nominalist William of Ockham
William of Ockham
William of Ockham was an English Franciscan friar and scholastic philosopher, who is believed to have been born in Ockham, a small village in Surrey. He is considered to be one of the major figures of medieval thought and was at the centre of the major intellectual and political controversies of...

, he saved himself from rationalism by laying hold on mysticism
Mysticism
Mysticism is the knowledge of, and especially the personal experience of, states of consciousness, i.e. levels of being, beyond normal human perception, including experience and even communion with a supreme being.-Classical origins:...

--the Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

 mysticism of Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite
Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite
Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite, also known as Pseudo-Denys, was a Christian theologian and philosopher of the late 5th to early 6th century, the author of the Corpus Areopagiticum . The author is identified as "Dionysos" in the corpus, which later incorrectly came to be attributed to Dionysius...

, the school of Richard of St. Victor
Richard of St. Victor
Richard of Saint Victor is known today as one of the most influential religious thinkers of his time. He was a prominent mystical theologian, and was prior of the famous Augustinian Abbey of Saint Victor in Paris from 1162 until his death in 1173....

, Bernard of Clairvaux
Bernard of Clairvaux
Bernard of Clairvaux, O.Cist was a French abbot and the primary builder of the reforming Cistercian order.After the death of his mother, Bernard sought admission into the Cistercian order. Three years later, he was sent to found a new abbey at an isolated clearing in a glen known as the Val...

, and Saint Bonaventure. He thought that in this way he would equally guard against the folly of the old scholasticism, and the seductions of such Averroistic
Averroes
' , better known just as Ibn Rushd , and in European literature as Averroes , was a Muslim polymath; a master of Aristotelian philosophy, Islamic philosophy, Islamic theology, Maliki law and jurisprudence, logic, psychology, politics, Arabic music theory, and the sciences of medicine, astronomy,...

 pantheism
Pantheism
Pantheism is the view that the Universe and God are identical. Pantheists thus do not believe in a personal, anthropomorphic or creator god. The word derives from the Greek meaning "all" and the Greek meaning "God". As such, Pantheism denotes the idea that "God" is best seen as a process of...

 as was preached by heretics like Amalric of Bena
Amalric of Bena
Amalric of Bena was a French theologian, after whom the Amalricians are named.-Biography:He was born in the latter part of the 12th century at Bennes, a village between Ollé and Chauffours in the diocese of Chartres....

. His plans for the reformation of university studies may be learned from his Epistolae de reform. theol. (i. I 21), Epistolae ad studentes Coligii Navarrae, quid et qualiter studere debeat novus ideologiae auditor, et contra curiositatem studentium (i. 106), Lectiones duae contra vanam curiositatem in negotio fidei (i. 86), and De mystica theologia, speculativa et practica. The study of the Bible and of the fathers was to supersede the idle questions of the schools, and in his Tract. contra romantiam de rosa (iii. 297) he warns against the irreverent Roman de la rose
Roman de la Rose
The Roman de la rose, , is a medieval French poem styled as an allegorical dream vision. It is a notable instance of courtly literature. The work's stated purpose is to both entertain and to teach others about the Art of Love. At various times in the poem, the "Rose" of the title is seen as the...

 of Guillaume de Lorris
Guillaume de Lorris
Guillaume de Lorris was a French scholar and poet from Lorris. He was the author of the first section of the Roman de la Rose. Little is known about him, other than that he wrote the earlier section of the poem around 1230, and that the work was completed forty years later by Jean de Meun.-...

 and Jean de Meun
Jean de Meun
Jean de Meun was a French author best known for his continuation of the Roman de la Rose.-Life:...

--a position in which he was joined by the feminist writer Christine de Pizan
Christine de Pizan
Christine de Pizan was a Venetian-born late medieval author who challenged misogyny and stereotypes prevalent in the male-dominated medieval culture. As a poet, she was well known and highly regarded in her own day; she completed 41 works during her 30 year career , and can be regarded as...

. He was often weary of the chancellorship—it involved him in strife and in money difficulties; he grew tired of public life, and longed for learned leisure. To obtain it he accepted the deanery of Bruges
Bruges
Bruges is the capital and largest city of the province of West Flanders in the Flemish Region of Belgium. It is located in the northwest of the country....

 from the duke of Burgundy, but after a short sojourn he returned to Paris and to the chancellorship
Chancellor of the University of Paris
The Chancellor of the University of Paris was originally the chancellor of the chapter of Notre Dame de Paris. The University of Paris ceased to exist in 1970, though the related position, Chancellor of the Universities of Paris is currently held by Maurice Quénet.-13th century:*Praepositinus...

.

Gerson and the Great Schism


Gerson's chief work was toward reconciling the great schism
Western Schism
The Western Schism or Papal Schism was a split within the Catholic Church from 1378 to 1417. Two men simultaneously claimed to be the true pope. Driven by politics rather than any theological disagreement, the schism was ended by the Council of Constance . The simultaneous claims to the papal chair...

. Gregory XI
Pope Gregory XI
Gregory XI was pope from 1370 until his death.-Biography:He was born Pierre Roger de Beaufort, in Maumont, in the modern commune of Rosiers-d'Égletons, Limousin around 1336. He succeeded Pope Urban V in 1370, and was pope until 1378...

 had died in 1378, one year after Gerson went to the college of Navarre, and since his death the Church had had two popes, which to the medieval caused great scandal, as there could only be one legitimate successor of St. Peter— and one faith, one Lord, one baptism, one "seamless garment of Christ". The schism had practically been brought about by France. The popes had been under French influence so long that it appeared to France a political necessity to have her own pope, and pious Frenchmen felt themselves somewhat responsible for the sins and scandals of the schism. Hence the melancholy piety of Gerson, Pierre d'Ailly and their companions, and the energy with which they strove to bring the schism to an end. During the lifetime of Clement VII
Antipope Clement VII
Robert of Geneva was elected to the papacy as Pope Clement VII by the French cardinals who opposed Urban VI, and was the first Avignon antipope of the Western Schism.-Biography:...

. the University of Paris, led by Pierre d'AiIly, Gerson and Nicolas of Clamenges, met in deliberation about the state of Christendom, and resolved that the schism could be ended in three ways,--by cession, if both popes renounced the tiara unconditionally, by arbitration or by a general council. Clement died. The king of France, urged by the university, sent orders that no new pope should be elected. The cardinals held their election first, and only then opened the king's letter. In the new elections, however, both at Rome and Avignon, the influence of Paris was so much felt that each of the new popes swore to cede if his rival would do likewise.

Meanwhile in 1395 the national assembly of France and the French clergy adopted the programme of the university—cession or a general council. The movement gathered strength. By 1398 most of the cardinals and most of the crowned heads in Europe supported the plan. During this period Gerson's literary activity was untiring, and the throb of public expectancy, of hope and fear, is revealed in his multitude of pamphlets. At first there were hopes of a settlement by way of cession. These come out in Protest. super statuni ecclesiae (ii. I), Tractatus de modo habendi se tempore schismatis, De schismate, etc. But soon the popes' intransigence strengthened the movement for a council—see De concilio generali unius obedientiae (ii. 24).

A council was resolved upon, to meet at Pisa, and Gerson poured forth tract after tract for its guidance.
The most important are Trilogus in materia schismatis (ii. 83), and De unitate Ecclesiae (ii. 113), in which, following Pierre d'Ailly (see Paul Tschackert
Paul Tschackert
Paul Tschackert was a German Protestant theologian and church historian who was a native of Freystadt, Silesia. He is largely remembered for studies involving the history of the Protestant Reformation....

, Peter von Ailli, p. 153), Gerson demonstrates that the ideal unity of the church, based upon Christ, destroyed by the popes, can only be restored by a general council, supreme and legitimate, though unsummoned by a pope. The council met, deposed both antipopes, and elected Alexander V. Gerson officially addressed the new pope on his duties in Sermo coram Alexandro Papa in die ascensionis in concilio Pisano (ii. 131).

All hopes of reformation, however, were crushed by the conduct of the new pope, especially his immoderate partiality toward the Franciscan Order
Franciscan
Most Franciscans are members of Roman Catholic religious orders founded by Saint Francis of Assisi. Besides Roman Catholic communities, there are also Old Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, ecumenical and Non-denominational Franciscan communities....

, of which he had been a monk. He issued a bull which laid the parish clergy and the universities at the mercy of the mendicants. The University of Paris rose in revolt, headed by its chancellor Gerson, who wrote the fierce pamphlet Censura professorum in theologia circa bullam Alexandri V (ii. 442).
The pope died soon after, and John XXIII
Antipope John XXIII
Baldassarre Cossa was Pope John XXIII during the Western Schism. The Catholic Church regards him as an antipope.-Biography:...

 (Baldassare Cossa), was elected his successor. Instead of peace, the council of Pisa had produced only a third papacy.
Pierre d'Ailly despaired of general councils (see his De difficultate reformationis in concilio universali), but Gerson struggled on.

Gerson also fought against the murderous discords and cynicism of royal politics. The feuds between the houses of Orleans and Burgundy were ruining France. The king's brother, the duke of Orleans, had been murdered by the followers of the duke of Burgundy; and this had been publicly justified by a theologian, Jean Petit
Jean Petit (theologian)
Jean Petit was a French theologian and professor in the University of Paris...

 (c. 1360-1411). Gerson had Petit's "eight verities"--apologias for the murder—condemned by the University of Paris, the archbishop, and the grand inquisitor, and the book was publicly burned before Notre Dame
Notre Dame de Paris
Notre Dame de Paris , also known as Notre Dame Cathedral, is a Gothic, Roman Catholic cathedral on the eastern half of the Île de la Cité in the fourth arrondissement of Paris, France. It is the cathedral of the Catholic Archdiocese of Paris: that is, it is the church that contains the cathedra of...

. Gerson wished a council to confirm this sentence. His literary labours were as untiring as ever: he wrote that a general council could depose a pope; he drew up indictments against the reigning pontiffs, reiterated the charges against Jean Petit, and exposed the sin of schism—in short, he did all he could to direct the public mind toward healing the evils in the church.

His efforts were powerfully seconded by the emperor Sigismund
Sigismund, Holy Roman Emperor
Sigismund of Luxemburg KG was King of Hungary, of Croatia from 1387 to 1437, of Bohemia from 1419, and Holy Roman Emperor for four years from 1433 until 1437, the last Emperor of the House of Luxemburg. He was also King of Italy from 1431, and of Germany from 1411...

, and the result was the Council of Constance
Council of Constance
The Council of Constance is the 15th ecumenical council recognized by the Roman Catholic Church, held from 1414 to 1418. The council ended the Three-Popes Controversy, by deposing or accepting the resignation of the remaining Papal claimants and electing Pope Martin V.The Council also condemned and...

. Gerson's influence at the council was supreme up to the election of a new pope. It was he who dictated the form of submission and cession made by John XXIII, and directed the condemnation of Huss. Many of Gerson's biographers have found it difficult to reconcile his proceedings against Huss with his own opinions upon the supremacy of the pope; but the difficulty has arisen partly from misunderstanding Gerson's position, partly from supposing him to be the author of a famous tract De modis uniendi et reformandi Ecclesiam in concilio universali. This, and the treatises De modis uniendi et reformandi Ecclesiam, and De difficultate reformationis in concilio universali, long ascribed to Gerson, were proved by Johann Baptist Schwab in his Johannes Gerson not to be his work, and have since been ascribed to Abbot Andreas of Randuf, and with more reason to Dietrich of Nieheim
Dietrich of Nieheim
Dietrich of Nieheim , medieval historian, was born at Nieheim, a small town subject to the see of Paderborn.-Life:...

.
All Gerson's high-sounding phrases about the supremacy of a council were meant to apply only in times of emergency. He was essentially a trimmer, not a reformer, and he hated Huss with all the rancor of a conservative at heart.

The council of Constance
Council of Constance
The Council of Constance is the 15th ecumenical council recognized by the Roman Catholic Church, held from 1414 to 1418. The council ended the Three-Popes Controversy, by deposing or accepting the resignation of the remaining Papal claimants and electing Pope Martin V.The Council also condemned and...

, which raised Gerson's prestige to its height, in the end became his downfall. The council, overawed by the duke of Burgundy
Duke of Burgundy
Duke of Burgundy was a title borne by the rulers of the Duchy of Burgundy, a small portion of traditional lands of Burgundians west of river Saône which in 843 was allotted to Charles the Bald's kingdom of West Franks...

, would not affirm the censure of Jean Petit. The justification of murder was declared a mere opinion, not a doctrine, and only one of Petit's "verities" was condemned; and even this censure was annulled by the new pope, Martin V
Pope Martin V
Pope Martin V , born Odo Colonna, was Pope from 1417 to 1431. His election effectively ended the Western Schism .-Biography:...

. Gerson dared not return to France for fear of Burgundy, who had taken power. He lived in unofficial exile in Constance, then at Rattenberg in Tirol, where he wrote his famous book De consolatione theologiae.

Retirement


On returning to France he went to Lyon
Lyon
Lyon , is a city in east-central France in the Rhône-Alpes region, situated between Paris and Marseille. Lyon is located at from Paris, from Marseille, from Geneva, from Turin, and from Barcelona. The residents of the city are called Lyonnais....

, where his brother was prior of the Celestine
Celestines
Celestines are a Roman Catholic monastic order, a branch of the Benedictines, founded in 1244. At the foundation of the new rule, they were called Hermits of St Damiano, or Moronites , and did not assume the appellation of Celestines until after the election of their founder to the Papacy as...

 monastery. Although Gerson was retired from active university life, the decade at Lyon was a time of great literary productivity. He produced a harmony of the gospels (the Monotesseron), works on the poems of the bible climaxing in a massive collection of twelve treatises on the Magnificat
Magnificat
The Magnificat — also known as the Song of Mary or the Canticle of Mary — is a canticle frequently sung liturgically in Christian church services. It is one of the eight most ancient Christian hymns and perhaps the earliest Marian hymn...

 (Lk. 1:46-55), a commentary on the Song of Songs
Song of songs
Song of Songs, also known as the Song of Solomon, is a book of the Hebrew Bible or Old Testament. It may also refer to:In music:* Song of songs , the debut album by David and the Giants* A generic term for medleysPlays...

, as well as an extensive literary correspondence with members of the Carthusian
Carthusian
The Carthusian Order, also called the Order of St. Bruno, is a Roman Catholic religious order of enclosed monastics. The order was founded by Saint Bruno of Cologne in 1084 and includes both monks and nuns...

 order and others on mysticism and other issues of spiritual life. Shortly before his death he produced a tract in support of Joan of Arc
Joan of Arc
Saint Joan of Arc, nicknamed "The Maid of Orléans" , is a national heroine of France and a Roman Catholic saint. A peasant girl born in eastern France who claimed divine guidance, she led the French army to several important victories during the Hundred Years' War, which paved the way for the...

. It is said that he taught a school of boys and girls in Lyon, and his only fee was to make the children promise to repeat the prayer, "Lord, have mercy on thy poor servant Gerson" (though this story has been questioned by Gerson's most recent biographer). He died at Lyon on the 12 July 1429. Tradition declares that during his sojourn he translated or adapted from the Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 a work upon eternal consolation, which afterwards became very famous under the title of The Imitation of Christ, attributed to Thomas à Kempis
Thomas à Kempis
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...

. It has, however, been proven that this work really was written by Thomas, and not by John Gerson or the abbot Gerson.