Á KEMPIS, Thomas Imitatio Christi [and] GERSON, Johannes. De Meditatione Cordis ([Venice]: Peregrinus de Pasqualibus, Bononiensis and Dionysius Bertochus, 1485). 225 x 145
mm. (8 7/8 x 5 3/4″).  leaves. Double column, 39 lines plus headline in gothic type. Second Venetian Edition.
Contemporary blind-stamped brown sheepskin over bevelled wooden boards (but perhaps originally covering a different book), boards with frame containing rosettes and wheat sheaves,
central panel on upper covered diapered with compartments containing a leafy lozenge or a wheat sheaf, that on lower cover in triangles stamped with a Maria banner, lower cover with
brass bosses at corners, one lacking, one replaced, raised bands, re-backed to style, catch plate and anchor from original clasp, strap lacking, late 18th century endpapers. First page of main text with capitals struck with red, first half of book with hand-painted three- to five-line red initials. Two leaves added at front with extensive ink notations in a contemporary hand; first of
these leaves and a1r with additional ownership inscription of St. Mang’s Abbey, Füssen. Goff I8; BMC V, 390; ISTC ii00008000. Covers lightly scuffed, final (blank) page with a couple of
small (glue?) stains, occasional minor smudges or spots to margins, otherwise an excellent copy, the binding sturdy and appealing, the leaves clean and fresh, with comfortable margins.
This is a pleasing copy of Thomas à Kempis’ ‘Imitation of Christ’, one of the most popular Christian works after the Bible. Here, the work is accompanied by “Meditation of the Heart” by
Jean Gerson, chancellor of the University of Paris, who in this edition is actually identified as the author of both works. There was some controversy in the 16th century over the authorship of the “Imitation,” but Dutch-German canon regular Thomas à Kempis (1380-1471) is now generally considered to be responsible, based on contemporary witnesses and manuscripts signed by
Thomas, as well as on his style of writing. Like Thomas, Gerson (1363-1429) urged the faithful toward a mystical approach to God, but his writing style is more academic, and his mysticism
is inspired by St. Bonaventure rather than St. Bernard. In any case, the present 1485 printing marks the first time the two devotional works appeared together. Printers Peregrinus de
Pasqualibus and Dionysius Bertochus set up their press in Treviso in 1482, then moved briefly to Vicenza before settling in Venice in 1484. BMC records this as the sixth of seven works they produced before their partnership ended in late 1485. Our copy was once owned by St. Mang’s Abbey, a Benedictine monastery in Füssen, Germany, founded in the first
half of the ninth century by Magnus of Füssen, called the Apostle of Bavaria. The early annotations on the flyleaves contain short quotations from “Imitatio”–perhaps references to favorite passages. This edition is rare in the marketplace: ABPC and RBH find no other complete copies in the past 40 years, and just one incomplete. (ST15128)