There is nothing to distinguish Thomas (Fr Louis) Merton’s grave from that of scores of other monks buried in the monastic cemetery at Gethsemani except a small accumulation of mementos left by admirers. The white scarf attached to his cross lends his resting place a faintly hippie aspect, which I think he would have enjoyed. Humour is an essential component in Merton’s writings, I see that more and more. He possessed that most precious quality: an ability to laugh at himself – a characteristic shared by most people who take life really seriously.

Merton was buried next to Dom James Fox, his long-time abbot, in some sense his nemesis, but also his brother and friend. If you would like to read my review of Roger Lipsey’s fine book about their complex relationship, you can find it here