Groote, Gerard

Groote, Gerard or Geert gāˈrärt, gārtˈ, grōˈtə [key], 1340–84, Dutch Roman Catholic reformer. He studied at Paris and elsewhere and because of his learning in theology, philosophy, jurisprudence, and medicine, he was appointed professor at Cologne. Converted from a worldly life c.1374, he retired to a Carthusian monastery near Arnhem, urged probably by John Ruysbroeck. He was ordained deacon, but never priest, and under episcopal auspices he preached all over the Netherlands, denouncing clergy and laity impartially and making many converts. In 1383 his clerical enemies procured an episcopal ban on his preaching. In his preaching period he formed the Brothers of the Common Life, a monastic organization, whose members were exponents of the “Modern Devotion.” Before his death he asked his followers to become Augustinian canons. His society and the Augustinians he inspired were pioneers in a general reform of German monastic life. Some scholars hold that Groote is the author of the devotional classic The Imitation of Christ (see Imitation of Christ, The), ascribed by tradition to Thomas à Kempis. The Following of Christ (tr. 1941) is purportedly based on the original Groote manuscripts in diary form.

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