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Celebration Planned for Thomas Merton's 100th Birthday

The Center for Interfaith Relations is hosting a birthday celebration for the late Thomas Merton, the world-renowned author and monk at the Abbey of Gethsemani in Trappist, Kentucky.

Merton would have turned 100 on Saturday. He died in 1968.

“Thomas Merton is the most renowned mystical writer and interfaith leader in Roman Catholicism of the 20th century," said Keith Runyon, a spokesman for the Center for Interfaith Relations (and a WFPL commentator).

But Runyon  said that the critical acclaim and worldwide fame did not pull Merton away from his life as a monk. He donated all of the profits from his book to the Abbey so that he could keep his vow of poverty.

“He had an amazing gift of writing,” said Runyon. ”And he led a very interesting life in that he became a celebrity even though he was a monk who had taken this vow of silence and poverty.”

The event begins at noon Saturday with remarks by Mayor Greg Fischer at the Brown Theatre. The celebration will end with a screening of a new documentary on Merton’s life.