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Modern Devotion

The Modern Devotion (Devotio Moderna) is one of the most influential spiritual initiatives in Dutch history. This religious reform movement originated in the IJssel region around 1375, and soon spread throughout Northwest Europe. 

Titus Brandsma Institute and Modern Devotion
The Titus Brandsma Institute has been researching the Modern Devotion since its foundation in 1968; this research is conducted by Rudolf van Dijk († 2015), Charles Caspers and Rijcklof Hofman.

Most important representatives
The most important representatives of the Modern Devotion are Geert Grote (1340-1384), the founder of the movement, Thomas van Kempen, the writer of the Following of Christ, the world’s most sold book after the Bible, and Gerard Zerbolt van Zutphen (1367 -1398), author of some influential guides on the spiritual path. Read more about the works of Geert Grote, the critical edition in seven parts that the Titus Brandsma Institute provides.

Geert Grote’s oeuvre
In the Gerardi Magni Opera Omnia edition project, the Titus Brandsma Institute provides a critical edition of Geert Grote’s oeuvre. To realize this critical edition, several copies of texts from Geert Grote’s texts are compared with each other, in order to come to the original (source) text. Even before the invention of printing, it was common for texts to be copied. In the course of time errors in the texts occured, which were then copied again.

Importance of critical editions
Early on they realized the importance of editions of the most important of Geert Grote’s works. Part of this has been published since the first half of the 19th century, and another has never appeared in print to date.
In the thirties of the twentieth century, the then Nijmegen professor Titus Brandsma made a first attempt to publish the Opera Omnia by Geert Grote. This attempt failed at the time for various reasons.

Since 1989, the Titus Brandsma Institute has revived the edition project. The Geert Grote edition is published in the leading series Corpus Christianorum, Continuatio Mediaeualis. A total of seven parts are provided, of which four have now been published.

Renewal community life
The Modern Devotion (Devotio Moderna) arose because people were not satisfied with their situation due to malpractices under the clergy and in the church leadership. The Modern Devotion stood for a renewal of the Christian community life and can be seen as a reform movement within the Church and society. Personal sanctification and practical wisdom of life were the goal. The initiators consisted of clergy and laymen. They lived in communion of table and goods without making a formal monastery vow.

It is difficult to speak of the Modern Devotion: after all, we are dealing with a movement that included three forms of society, each with their own character and characteristics:

  • the Sisters and Brothers of the Common Life who did not take vows
  • the regular canons, united in the Chapter of Windesheim (who followed the Rule of Augustine)
  • and the tertaries and tertians, united in the Chapter of Utrecht (who followed the third rule of Francis)

The Titus Brandsma Institute has been researching the Modern Devotion since its foundation in 1968; this research is conducted by Rudolf van Dijk († 2015)