Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Relics Merton took to Asia

This interesting tidbit came via an email from Jim Forest:

An interesting detail about Merton's trip to Asia in 1968 is that he carried with him a number of relics of various saints. Thanks to Paul Pearson I have  this list:

St. Bede
St. Thomas of Canterbury
St. Teresa of Jesus
St. Peter Damian
St. Bruno
St. Romuald
St. Nicholas of Flue
St. Charbel

Paul writes: "Over the years a number of them were sent to him by Sr. Therese Lentfoehr, though the one of St. Charbel came from Sr. Mary Luke Tobin. (In a letter to Therese – Dec. ’65 – Merton mentions that he buried a second class relic of Charbel in the foundations of the hermitage when it was being built!)"

HT: Jim Forest and Paul Pearson


  1. Hello Beth!

    Hope you had a happy Thanksgiving! Really missed your posts.

    This is very interesting. To those in religious circles, relics are very important. A few years ago, in the Missionary of Charity convent in NJ, a person attended Mass who was almost blind. The sisters took down from the wall a First class relic (bone) of Mother Teresa - held it against the man's eye and said prayers. Fr. louis probably could have used a relic of Mother Teresa - but it was not to be.....

  2. THanks, Brian, for the Thanksgiving greetings. I had a wonderful holiday and hope you did too.

    This world and life and death are all so mysterious, and relics seem to in some way touch that mystery. They are tangible. I think that I was drawn to this list of relics because of St. Charbel. I've just recently learned about him and I find it telling that Sr. Mary Luke gave him this particular relic. Merton himself must have had an affinity for the spirit of St. Charbel.

  3. I am quite stunned to realize that TM was carrying relics of three Camaldolese-Benedictine saints at the time (if I'm thinking of the right St. Bruno. Romuald and Peter Damian are the other two.

    I wonder through whom these 3 (or 2) related saints' relics might have come?

    Would Jim Forest know?

  4. Jim might know, Chris. Or Paul Pearson at the Merton archives at Bellarmine. This note indicates that many of the relics came from Sr. Therese Lentfoehr. There's a lot of correspondence published between Merton and Sr. Therese. Perhaps there is mention in those letters about the relics? Good luck!


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