Thomas Merton

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Date of Birth January 31, 1915
Place of Birth Prades, France
Date of Death Dec 10, 1968 (53)
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Thomas Merton

Thomas Merton was an American Trappist monk, writer, theologian, mystic, poet, social activist, and scholar of comparative religion. On May 26, 1949, he was ordained to the priesthood and given the name "Father Louis". Merton wrote more than 50 books in a period of 27 years, mostly on spirituality, social justice and a quiet pacifism, as well as scores of essays and reviews. Among Merton's most enduring works is his bestselling autobiography The Seven Storey Mountain, which sent scores of World War II veterans, students, and even teenagers flocking to monasteries across the US, and was also featured in National Review's list of the 100 best non-fiction books of the century. Merton was a keen proponent of interfaith understanding. He pioneered dialogue with prominent Asian spiritual figures, including the Dalai Lama, the Japanese writer D. T. Suzuki, the Thai Buddhist monk Buddhadasa, and the Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh, and authored books on Zen Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism.

Born: January 31, 1915, Prades, Pyrénées-Orientales, France
Died: December 10, 1968, Samut Prakan, Thailand
Nationality: American
Occupation: Trappist monk, author
Religion: Christianity (Roman Catholic)
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About Thomas Merton

Poet, mystic, and social activist who was a Trappist monk of the Abbey of Gethsemani, Kentucky. He studied comparative religion.

Before Fame

He loved to write, travel, and paint growing up. He underwent his ordination to the priesthood in 1949, after which he was acknowledged as Father Louis.


He claimed it was crucial to humanity to accept and understand other people's religions.

Family Life

His parents were named Ruth Jenkins and Owen Merton.


He and Elizabeth Ann Seton were both internationally renowned Catholics, with Seton being the initial founder of Catholic schools.

Information related to Thomas Merton

  • Thomas Merton bibliography
  • Trappists
  • American Christian monks
  • Burials in Kentucky
  • Christian humanists
  • American spiritual teachers
  • People educated at Oakham School
  • Christian radicals
  • American people of the Vietnam War
  • American Christian pacifists
  • Venerated Catholics by Pope Francis
  • Writers from Kentucky
  • Roman Catholic mystics
  • Converts to Roman Catholicism from Anglicanism
  • Nonviolence advocates
  • American anti-war activists
  • American autobiographers
  • American Roman Catholic priests
  • Alumni of Clare College, Cambridge
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Latest information about Thomas Merton updated on September 24, 2020.

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