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    Old wooden type on a wooden shelf

    Thomas Merton

    A photograph of Thomas Merton.
    • Trappist monk
    • Pacifist
    • Writer
    Born in Prades, France, on January 31, 1915, Thomas Merton became one of the most significant American Catholic authors of his time. While attending Columbia University, Merton converted to Roman Catholicism and then joined the Trappist monastic order at the Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky. Merton’s 1948 autobiography, The Seven Storey Mountain, established him as a bestselling author; he went on to write dozens of books on faith, social justice, and peacemaking. His deepening understanding of Christian faith led him to support nonviolent protests against racism and war in the 1960s, for which he was strongly criticized. In his final years, Merton became interested in finding common ground between Christians and followers of other religions; during a 1968 conference in Thailand to promote East-West monastic relations, he died as a result of an electrical accident. 

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