Gerard Groote

geert) (1340-1384. Founder of the Brethren of the Common Life.* Born of a wealthy family at Deventer, he studied law and theology at Paris. During his twenties, holding benefices at Aachen and then Utrecht, he led a worldly life, which did not satisfy him. He was attracted by the ideas of the mystic J. Ruysbroeck,* whom he met and conversed with. After a serious illness, Groote about 1374 was influenced by the Carthusian Hendrik Van Calkar and turned to a devout Christian life. Monastic life at the Carthusian house near Arnhem did not meet his needs, and he gained permission to preach in the diocese of Utrecht. He immediately gained wide popularity. His attacks on clerical abuses aroused some opposition. In 1380 Groote with his younger friend Florentius Radewijns* decided to form a group in Deventer for the cultivation of piety; this was the nucleus of the Brethren. He turned his own house over to a similar gathering of devout women, for whom he wrote a Rule. In 1383 his enemies were able to have permission to preach withdrawn from him. Groote started an appeal to Rome, but died in 1384 of plague. As an admirer of Ruysbroeck, Groote translated the mystic's Horarium into Dutch, and his Brulocht (“Marriage”) into Latin.

See Th. Van Zijl, Geert Groote, Ascetic and Reformer (1963).