Kentucky Tourism

Merton, Thomas

New Haven, KY


over 70 books and many essays and reviews, many on spirituality, social justice and pacifism.
Thomas Merton (1915 - 1968) was a Trappist month of the Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky. He was an Anglo-Amiercian Catholic writer-- poet, social activist and student of comparative religion. Merton was born in Prades, France, sone of a New Zealand painter and an American Quaker and artist. Curing WWI the Merton family left Prades for the US.  His mother died when Merton was six years old.

Merton spent time in boarding schools in France and England,as well as traveling with his father. In 1933 he entered Clare College. After completing exams in 1935 he enrolled as a sophomore at Columbia University and it was there that he began to seriously explore Catholicism. He graduated from Columbia in 1838 with a VA in English. He continued at Columbia, doing graduate work. In 1942 Merton was accepted as a novice monk at the Abbey of Gethsemani in New Haven, KY.

Throughout his life Merton studied Buddhism, Taoism. Hinduism, Janinism, and Sufism in addition to his academic and monastic studies. He had a deep interest in what each of these said about the human experience. During his lifetime, Merton wrote over 70 books, many of spirituality, social justice and pacifism, as well as many essays and reviews.

Merton died in 1968 when he touched an exposed wire by accident and was electrocuted. He is buried at Gethsemani Abbey.