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Thomas Merton was America’s best acclaimed monk, a acknowledged columnist and internationally acclaimed airy thinker.

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Pope Francis, in his 2015 accent to Congress, said Merton was one of four Americans who aggressive him, forth with Abraham Lincoln, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Catholic amusing activist Dorothy Day.

But for a accumulation of Kentucky artists that included writers Wendell Berry and Guy Davenport, columnist Ralph Eugene Meatyard, folksinger John Jacob Niles, and artists and printers Victor and Carolyn Hammer, Merton additionally was a friend, accompaniment and affiliated spirit.

Merton lived for 27 years at the Abbey of Gethsemani in Nelson County. By the 1960s, his acclaim helped acquire him abandon to leave the monastery, accomplish visits to Lexington and Louisville and eventually biking internationally.

While accessory a religious appointment in Asia, he died of affection abortion on Dec. 10, 1968. He was 53.

A new bearing of Kentucky writers and artists will mark the 50th ceremony of Merton’s afterlife with two programs in Lexington, which are chargeless and accessible to the public.

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Thomas Merton, right, poses with biographer Wendell Berry, larboard and the artisan Denise Levertov. Photo by Ralph Eugene Meatyard.

Courtesy of Christopher Meatyard

The aboriginal is a applesauce concert at 3 p.m. Dec. 9 at the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd, 533 E. Main St. Dick Sisto, a vibraphonist who teaches at the University of Louisville, will perform. Merton was a big applesauce fan, and Sisto was amid his friends.

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At 6 p.m. on Dec. 10 there will be a account of Merton’s works at the Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning, 251 W. Second St. Readers accommodate poets Rebecca Gayle Howell and Maurice Manning; columnist Silas House; chef Ouita Michel, artisan Daniel Martin Moore and the Rt. Rev. Brian Cole, abbey of the Episcopal Diocese of East Tennessee.

Before the readings, at 5 p.m., there will be a accession and assuming of photographs of the Abbey of Gethsemani by Brother Paul Quenon and Harry Hinkle. The events, alleged “The Road Ahead of Me: Lexington Celebrates Thomas Merton,” are sponsored by the Carnegie Center, Good Shepherd and Hindman Settlement School.

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Author and abbot Thomas Merton, right, visited with John Jacob Niles, accompanist Jacqueline Roberts and accompanist Janelle Dishman, left, at Niles’ Boot Hill Farm abreast Lexington in 1968, anon afore Merton’s adventitious death. Niles set abounding of Merton’s balladry to music, with Roberts’ articulation in mind.

Helm Roberts

“So abounding ancestors accept appear to Merton’s writings now as a way of experiencing and practicing acceptance that moves alfresco of the American Evangelical system,” said Howell, who began account Merton’s books back she was a adolescence in Elizabethtown. “Locally, we additionally accept this faculty of him as our neighbor. He’s been a abecedary of abundance for a absolutely continued time and has guided my activity as an artist.”

Merton, built-in in France to an American mother and New Zealand father, becoming English degrees at Columbia University and became a Catholic at age 23. He went to a retreat at Gethsemani in 1941 and, eight months later, asked to accompany the order.

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As a monk, he wrote added than 70 books about spirituality, accord and amusing justice. His 1948 autobiography, “The Seven Storey Mountain,” became a best-seller and fabricated Merton an absurd all-embracing celebrity.

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Merton additionally admiring a afterward in the 1960s with his advancement for civilian rights and adjoin war. He was absorbed in Interfaith dialogue, which is what led him on his baleful cruise to Asia.

Thomas Merton, the Kentucky abbot and affecting author, met in 1968 with the Dalai Lama in Asia during the final weeks of his life. Louisville filmmaker Morgan Atkinson’s new blur about Merton’s cardinal aftermost year will admission on KET on Dec. 10.

Photo acclimated with permission of the Thomas Merton Center, Bellarmine University.

“He charcoal a antecedent of airy afflatus and a adviser for abounding people,” Pope Francis said of Merton. “He was additionally a man of dialogue, a apostle of accord amid peoples and religions.”

But Merton additionally was absorbed in poetry, photography and the aesthetic ability of his adopted state. He enjoyed picnics and added outings area he and these Kentuckians could allocution about activity and art.

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“Merton’s bequest locally is appropriate and altered from his bequest internationally,” Howell said. “That’s what I’m acquisitive we can bless and canyon on.”

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