Vol. 1 No. 2 (2021)
Research Article

The “Spiritual Hammer” (1656) as an Emblematic translation of “Imitatio Christi” by Thomas à Kempis

Published 2021-12-20


  • emblems, meditation, translation, Thomas à Kempis, devotio moderna

How to Cite

Bielak, Alicja. 2021. “The “Spiritual Hammer” (1656) As an Emblematic Translation of ‘Imitatio Christi’ by Thomas à Kempis”. Central European Cultures 1 (2):29-58. https://doi.org/10.47075/CEC.2021-2.02.


The subject of this article is a Polish-language collection of emblems by Paweł Mirowski, the Spiritual Hammer, 1656. The work is in fact a paraphrase of Thomas à Kempis’s Imitatio Christi, which the author admits neither on the title page nor in the preface. In addition, the translation is supplemented with five to seven engravings (depending on the surviving copies) of an emblematic kind. The purpose of this article is twofold. Firstly, to juxtapose Mirowski’s translation with Kempis’s work in order to reveal his translation techniques and discuss the advisability of their use. Secondly, to analyse the purpose of using emblematics in the Imitatio Christi and to point to two hitherto unknown copper engravings preserved in a unique copy of the Seminary Library in Warsaw.