Just 500 years or so after the death of Christ, the first monks arrived on Skellig Michael, an island 12km from Ireland's south west coast, lying at the very edge of the then known world. The monastery that they established in this inhospitable environment remains one of the most remarkable testaments to human faith on earth. The island was the westernmost sacred site along a long line of ancient pilgrimage places running from Mount Carmel in Palestine through Greece, Italy and France to Ireland.
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An Introduction to Thomas Merton
Thomas Merton, one of the greatest spiritual writers of the 20th century, captivated a generation with the story of his conversion and journey into Trappist monastic life at Gethsemani Abbey, Kentucky, The Seven-Storey Mountain. Perhaps the most famous line in the book describes how he felt upon arrival at the monastery: “So Brother Matthew locked the gate behind me and I was enclosed in the four walls of my new freedom.” This writer, theologian, mystic, poet, social activist, and scholar of comparative religion published 50 inspiring books in 27 years. An 11-minute programme by PBS, the Public Broadcasting Service of America, provides an excellent introduction to Merton.