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CHAPTER IV

Of his native land, and bow be went to study at Prague

(1)

THIS revered father and devout priest of Christ, Master Florentius, was Vicar of Deventer, having been converted by the preaching of the venerable Gerard Groote, the grace of God working therewith. Having been his humble hearer, Florentius studied to imitate Gerard in all things, and receiving his wholesome counsels with gratitude, loved him as his dearest father, the begetter of his salvation, always and everywhere paying him the greatest reverence as was fitting. Therefore he deserved to be loved in turn by Gerard even more than were the other disciples, and to be commended above the rest for the special beauty and modesty of his character, for with these qualities he was eminently endowed and shone therewith in the Religious life.

(2) He was born in the city of Leerdam, in the territory of the noble Count de Erkell; this city is situated near the boundary of Holland and about three miles from Utrecht. His father, Radewin, was well known by repute amongst those of his time; and being sufficiently endowed with goods and substance, considering the needs of his condition in life, he gave his fatherly consent and assistance to his son Florentius when the latter was setting forth to study at Prague. At this time the privileged University of Prague in Bohemia was in a most flourishing state, and many men went more 91eagerly thither from the Low Countries. He soon became a good scholar, for he was brilliant in understanding and eager to go forward in knowledge, and in like manner he was noted amongst the students for kindness to his intimates and reverence toward his teacher. Afterward he returned to his own country and his kindred, and having gained his Master’s Degree was received with honour.

(3) All his friends and neighbours rejoiced together exceedingly; for the pleasure of his presence, his health, and prosperity was rightfully a joy and consolation to them after his absence in lands so distant, and the perils through which God had suffered him to pass. But if his return in due time from the University of Prague, and his studies, gave great delight to his friends, yet since God ordained that something even better should follow, this return was the happy preparation for his eternal well-being, for after the lapse of no great while he became a true disciple of Christ instead of a Master of Arts. During his homeward journey from Prague our good Lord showed him a marvellous thing and one wherein His Mercy was clearly manifest; for when he had reached a deep valley a chariot followed behind him dashing down from the mountain with great speed; and as he could not turn aside from it, and was in fear of bodily peril, he threw himself upon the help of God, for there was no help from man. When he had called upon the Almighty, the immeasurable tenderness of our Saviour was present with him; for wonderful to relate, as soon as he had called upon the Lord, he saw that chariot in front of him upon the road on which he was travelling, and all danger was at an end. 93This whole matter he ascribed to a miracle wrought on his behalf by God Who healeth them that are troubled in heart, and doth free them that call upon Him from every strait.

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