born c. 1340
died March 24, 1396, Thurgarton Priory,
devotional writer, one of the greatest
English mystics of the 14th century.
Hilton studied at the University of Cambridge
before becoming a hermit and later joined the
Augustinians at Thurgarton Priory, where he
remained for the rest of his life. His major
work was The Scale [or Ladder] of Perfection,
written separately in two books. The first
teaches the means by which a soul may advance
toward perfection by destroying the image of sin
and forming the image of Christ through the
practice of virtue. The second distinguishes
between the active, ascetic life and the
contemplative, mystical life and describes the
early stages of mystical contemplation,
apparently from Hilton’s own experience. Because
of its sober and methodical character, The Scale
became and remained a popular devotional classic
through the 15th and early 16th centuries and is
regarded as the finest treatise on contemplation
written in the late European Middle Ages.
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