He was a man of such saintliness and gave so good an example in his mortification of the flesh, his refusal of temporal advantages, his contempt for the world, his brotherly love for all, his zeal for the salvation of souls, his effectual preaching, his reprobation and hatred of wickedness, his withstanding of heretics, his enforcement of the canon law against those that broke the vow of chastity, his conversion to the spiritual life of divers men and women who had formerly lived according to the world, and his loyalty to our Lord Urban the Sixth—in all those things I say he gave so good an example, that many thousands of men testify to the belief that is in them that he was not less great in these virtues than he was in the aforesaid sciences. Master William of Salvarvilla, Cantor at Paris, Archdeacon of Brabant in the Church of Liege, an eminent doctor in theology, compiled the above eulogy from that which he heard from the lips of men worthy of credit, and from his own knowledge of Master Gerard, and he believed beyond all doubt that it was true.
How, after his death, the number of the Devout and the Order of Regulars did increase.
After the death of the venerable Master Gerard Groote, the devotion of faithful persons in Deventer, Zwolle, Kampen and the neighbouring towns began to grow mightily in the Lord, so that in a short time there arose many congregations of men and women that served God, dwelling together in common and in chastity of life after the manner of the primitive Church and that laudable custom of the holy Fathers that was introduced by the Apostles.
Some of these who could ill abide the concourse of people in the cities, sought habitations that did befit them far from the places where men do congregate, and having builded them poor little houses, determined to lead a hidden life therein after the example of the ancient Fathers; but in process of time, as their numbers and their goods increased, they took upon them the habit of holy religion, for God so ordered it, and converted their houses into Monasteries of the Order of Canons Regular, thinking thereby to be the more profitable. This same memorable Master, inspired with a spirit of prophecy, foretold this thing, namely, that the number of the devout should increase mightily, for to a certain Priest, who was his friend, and afterward became a Canon Regular at Zwolle (from whom also I heard the saying), he said: “Behold, beloved, this good thing which by God’s help hath been here begun, shall be increased yet more, and this little spark shall kindle many fires throughout all Holland and Geldria.”
Thanks be to God that as we have heard, so have we seen with our own eyes the fulfilment of this prophecy, and that not only in the regions round about, but also in the parts afar off and in the upper provinces. He had it likewise in mind to found, with the help of certain friends, a monastery for Regulars who should take the habit which he had seen in Brabant in the house of John Ruesbroeck, but this purpose he committed to the followers whom he had made firm in the faith of Christ, that they should fulfil it, for death was beforehand with him, and this was, indeed, fulfilled effectually by these same disciples in after days.