Henry of Kalkar

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Carthusian writer and reformer; b. Kalkar, Duchy of Cleves, 1328; d. Cologne, Dec. 20, 1408. Of a noble family, he studied at Cologne and then at Paris, where he completed his master's degree in 1357. After teaching at Paris, he returned to Cologne, where he became canon at the churches of St. George, Cologne, and St. Swithbert, Kaiserswerth. In 1365 he entered the Cologne Charterhouse. Recognized for his learning and piety, he was made prior of the Charterhouse of Arnheim in 1368, and there exercised decisive influence on the spiritual formation of Gerard groote. He was later prior of Ruremonde (137277), of Cologne (137884), and of Strasbourg (138496), and for 20 years was visitator of the Rhine province. In these positions he promoted a reform that enabled his order to survive the difficulties of the Western Schism.

He wrote extensively on varied topics, sermons, letters, and ascetical and historical tracts, but much of his work remains in manuscript. His published works are Exercitatorium monachale, which appeared at Cologne in 1532 under the name of denis the carthusian and was also incorporated in the Theologia mystica (ch. 1) of hugh of balma; a chronicle, Ortus et decursus ordinis Cartusiensis (ed. H. Vermeer, Wageningen 1929); and Cantuagium de musica (ed. H. Hüschen, Krefeld 1952). Henry of Kalkar was for a time proposed as a possible author of the Imitation of Christ, but that thesis is no longer accepted. He is, however, recognized as being an important influence in the development of the devotio moderna and upon the writers of that era. He is also referred to as Henry Egher or Eger.

Bibliography: l. le vasseur, Ephemerides ordinis Cartusiensis, 2 v. in 4 (Montreuil 1890) 4:540542. s. autore, Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, ed. a. vacant et al., 15 v. (Paris 190350; Tables Générales 1951) 4.2: 210408. p. doyÈre, Catholicisme 5:621622.

[f. c. lehner]