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Thomas Merton in his study.
Thomas Merton (31 January 1915 â€“ 10 December 1968) was one of the most influential Catholic writers of the 20th century.
A Trappist monk of the Abbey of Our Lady of Gethsemani, in the state of Kentucky, Merton was the author of numerous acclaimed works of spirituality, a prolific poet, social activist and student of comparative religion. He wrote more than 60 books, scores of essays and reviews, and is the subject of several biographies.
Merton was a keen proponent of inter-religious understanding, engaging in spiritual dialogues with the Dalai Lama, Thich Nhat Hanh and D. T. Suzuki.
His life and career were suddenly cut short at the age of 53, when he was electrocuted stepping out of his bath.