Pilgrims who treasure the writings of Thomas Merton travel to the Abbey of Gethsemani, a Roman Catholic monastery in rural Kentucky. Merton entered the monastic community at the abbey in 1941 and lived here until his death in 1968. A prolific writer, Merton’s works include his autobiography, The Seven Storey Mountain, as well spiritual classics such as New Seeds of Contemplation.
The Trappist abbey is home to sixty monks, who welcome visitors for overnight retreats or day visits. Guests may join the monks in keeping the liturgy of the hours (the seven prayer services held each day) and may also attend Eucharist. For added inspiration, visitors can walk the woodlands and fields that surround the abbey. In Thomas Merton’s words, a monastery like this offers a place “to entertain silence in the heart and listen for the voice of God—to pray for your own discovery.”
Did You Know? Hospitality is an essential element of monastic life, for monks are directed to receive all visitors as Christ himself.
Learn more: A Thomas Merton Tour in Kentucky
Next site: St. Paul’s Chapel, New York City
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Lori Erickson is one of America’s top travel writers specializing in spiritual journeys. She’s the author of the Near the Exit: Travels With the Not-So-Grim Reaper and Holy Rover: Journeys in Search of Mystery, Miracles, and God. Her website Spiritual Travels features holy sites around the world.