Sunday, June 6, 2010

Dan Berrigan, arrested

I came across this photo of Dan Berrigan via a louie reader.  His comment: Who is really more free - D.B. or the sour faced g-men?

This photo definitely needs to be part of the louie collection! My guess is that this is the photo taken (August 12, 1970) when Berrigan was arrested after being "underground", hiding from the F.B.I for his part in the Cantonsville Nine action.  For several months Berrigan was in the home of Robert Coles in Cambridge.  He was finally caught on Block Island:

"Two F.B.I. agents attempting to disguise themselves as birders finally caught up with Berrigan, however, when he was staying in the home on Block Island, R.I., of the social activist and lay theologian William Stringfellow. “One day, Bill looked out the window and saw two men with binoculars acting as if they were bird watchers,” said Berrigan, “but since the weather was stormy, that seemed strange. ‘I think something’s up,’ Bill said, and sure enough they knocked on the door.” They took Berrigan back to Providence by ferry; the media, already alerted, were waiting at the pier. Berrigan showed me a poster in his apartment made from a photo taken at that moment. Smiling broadly, he was in handcuffs between two burly F.B.I. agents as they escorted him off the ferry. A reminder of Block Island lies on his living room floor: a dozen curiously shaped stones from the beach there. " - from an article in America Magazine by George Anderson, "Looking Back in Gratitude - a conversation with Daniel Berrigan", July 6, 2009

(louie-louie is going to kick back into gear soon, I promise.  I've been mulling over the relationship between art and contemplative-ness, lately, and can't quite come to a blog-way of putting it down.)


  1. Beth -

    Great photo - The agent on the right looks like a prize fighter - been belted too many times in the nose.

    Berrigan is a very interesting character. Seems he and Fr. Louis became good friends.

    I am waiting for more of your posts !!

    God bless!

  2. Hang on, Brian!

    Yes. Merton and Berrigan were quite fond of each other. Berrigan was so overcome with grief after Merton's death that he could not speak of him for 10 years.

    I tend to think that they recognized and understood each other at a deep level - the level of the poet?

  3. This is really a classic photo of Berrigan's arrest. If I remember right at least one of the FBI men was a Jesuit college graduate and, as he arrested Fr. Dan, said under his breath the Jesuit motto "Ad majorem Dei gloriam" - For the greater glory of God." Is that what the emperors said when they condemned the early Christians to the lions?

    Berrigan wrote a beautiful poem on the death of Merton that someone may be able to find.

  4. I'd love to see that poem, John. If you find it, let me know.

  5. Some poems of Berrigan about Merton can be found at

  6. THanks John (Juan)! That book looks REALLY interesting. I may have to buy it. I especially liked the poem he wrote for Etty Hillesum.

    Do you think that the poem he wrote for Merton would be in this book? Looks like it, doesn't it ...

  7. I have a copy in storage in the US and so can't access it here in Honduras.
    I saw on the website that there are a few poems in honor of Merton in the book. I'm not sure it's the one he wrote right after his death which, I think, was published written over a photo of Merton int he National Catholic Reporter soon after Merton's death.

  8. That's really interesting, John (Juan) ... I talked to Dan once at an airport, and we talked some about Merton. He told me that for 10 years after Merton had died he could not speak about him, not publicly or privately. And then, after 10 years, his grief was lifted and he began talking about Merton.

    A poem, just after Merton's death, would be, well, pure grief?

    I have ordered the book from Amazon, so I'll keep you posted on what I find.

  9. The funny thing about that photo, according to Dan, is that both agents had gotten quite sea-sick on the boat ride from Block Island. They had arrested Dan before he had a chance to eat any breakfast, and Dan wasn't sick on the boatride, but they were, terribly, which explained their expressions, again, according to Dan B.

  10. I never heard that story about the sea sick FBI agents, bonnybroome. Thanks!



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