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John Kramer

Ascetic writer (fifteenth century)

Kramer, JOHN (also called INSTITOR, the Latin form of his surname), b. about the end of the fourteenth century, he must have died between 1437 and 1440, as a manuscript of the Carthusian monastery of Memmingen speaks of a gift made to it by Kramer in 1437, and the general chapter of the Carthusian Order held in 1440 mentions his death.

Having entered the charterhouse of Buxheim, iri the Diocese of Augsburg, Bavaria (whence he is sometimes called John of Buxheim), he there led the life of a pious and obedient religious. There, also, he wrote sundry works, including two treatises published by D. Pez in his “Bibliotheca ascetica”. The first of these is entitled “Breviloquium animi cujuslibet religiosi ref ormativum”; it consists of two parts. In the first part the author teaches a good religious diverse means and practices which he should observe in order to remain a faithful child of the Church, to acquire, on earth, the grace of perfection and, in heaven, everlasting happiness. In the second part, by a quaint allegory, he puts the religious on his guard against the faults of monastic life which are represented by twenty birds of prey, the eagle, the vulture, the hawk, the owl, etc., whose characteristics and manners he describes. Though written in a rude, uncultured style, the book was much read in the monasteries of the Middle Ages. The subject of Kramer’s second book is sufficiently indicated by its title, “Tractatus exhortativus ad evitandam malam iram”. In these two books we find the spirituality peculiar to the Carthusians of the fifteenth century: a rigorous asceticism, relieved somewhat (under the influence of Denis the Carthusian) by a few touches of mystical tenderness. An unpublished treatise, “De Objectionibus bibliw”, has also been sometimes attributed to Kramer, but without sufficient warrant.


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