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Published in over 6,000 editions before the year 1900, The Imitation of Christhas been more widely read than any other book in human history except the Bible itself. It has been called "the most influential work in Christian literature," "a landmark in the history of the human mind," and "the fifth gospel." Now, and for the first time, comes an exhaustive edition of this classic work, a work that is bound to become a classic in its own right. Fr. John-Julian introduces Kempis and his Imitationin ways that will shock many who have read the book before. For example, Protestant devotees to the book may be astounded to discover that Thomas was not only a Roman Catholic but an ardent traditionalist contemplative monk as well. And devoted Catholic readers may be amazed to discover that he was a radical moral reformer and part of a group twice formally charged with heresy. Notes and introductions to every aspect of The Imitationopen the meaning of this classic to the next generation of readers.