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Merton's Correspondence with:

Louis Massignon

Massignon, Louis, 1883-1962  printer


Descriptive Summary

Record Group: Section A - Correspondence
Dates of materials: 1959-1963
Volume: 21 item(s); 31 pg(s)

Scope and Content


Louis Massignon was a French scholar who wrote some of the most influential works on Islamic studies of the 20th century. Massignon had an especially keen interest in the Sufi mystic of ninth century Baghdad, Hallaj (Husayn ibn Mansur al-Hallaj). Based on his idea of "substitution mystique", accepting the sufferings of others, and the similar idea of badal by Hallaj, he received approval from Rome to form the sodality of the Badaliya in 1947. (The movement had its roots from a vow taken in 1934 with his friend, Mary Kahil.) He was later granted permission by Pope Pius XII in 1950 to become a married priest of the Melkite rite. Merton was introduced to him by Herbert Mason. Massignon later introduced a Pakistani friend and Sufi scholar, Abdul Aziz, to Merton's work, and Aziz and Merton thenceforth correspondence. Massignon wrote to Merton of his concerns about the racial tensions in France concerning the immigration of north African Muslims and about the after-effects of the 1967 Arab-Israeli War and the consequences for peace between Israeli's and Palestinians. Massignon's combination of a love of mysticism with an outspoken nature about the world's problems might have influenced Merton. (Source: Witness to Freedom, pp. 275-276.)

Usage Guidelines and Restrictions

Please click here for general restrictions concerning Merton's correspondence.

Related Information and Links

See also letters from Merton to Massignon published in Witness to Freedom, pp. 275-281; and see also the "Mason, Herbert" and "Aziz, Abdul" files.

Series List

This Record Sub-Group is not divided into Series and is arranged chronologically.

Container List

#DateFrom/ToFirst LinesPub ✓Notes
 y/m/dMerton Scan ✉ 
1. 1959/09/03 TLS to Merton it is with Mirth that Ireceived [sic] your blessing and your "Pasternak" through our friend Herbert. «detailed view»
2. 1959/09/30 TLS to Merton I have prayed since 1952 for your Indians; first whenseeing [sic] the awful crucifix made by New «detailed view»
3. 1960/03/31 TLS to Merton your letter seizes me in the "hallagian shroud" of fire of my rescue, May 1st-3rd 1908, when this «detailed view»
4. 1960/04/03 (#01) TALS to Merton Dear Friend, after the H.Mass (morning) said yesterday for the oppressed natives in South Africa, «detailed view»
5. 1960/04/03 (#02) other to Merton Karoli Lwanga tusabire. [-] PRAYER OF THE CATHOLIC ACTION TO BLESSES CHARLES LWANGA. «detailed view»
6. 1960/04/15 TALS to Merton just coming from the meditation of the Via Crucia to the "Soledad", - I thank you for "the primitive «detailed view»
7. 1960/05/16 TLS to Merton sokind [sic] of your heart to give me your Offering of June 3rd (this sign makes me able to renew «detailed view»
8. 1960/05/19 TLS to Merton we are laughed at for our "non-violence", but your approval and your prayer help us. «detailed view»
9. 1960/06/03 TLS to Merton I was deeply united with your Sacrifice this morning. Thanks. We have been incarcerated «detailed view»
10. 1960/07/19 TLS to Merton from our good Friend Herbert, I guess he is in a rather hard trial. I pray for him, you are his «detailed view»
11. 1960/08/02 TALS to Merton your letter has seized me, deeply, perhaps because of that protracted vertebral neuritis which «detailed view»
12. 1960/09/12 TLS to Merton please forgive my delayed thanks for all your gifts, and kindness. I am in rather hard times with «detailed view»
13. 1960/12/31 TLS to Merton for your sake, I also, celebrated the Holy Mass this morning (not always standing). «detailed view»
14. 1961/02/03 other to Merton BADALIYA [-] convocation [-] Vendredi 3 février 1961, au lendemain de la Chandeleur, Messe mensuelle «detailed view»
15. 1961/04/03 TLS to Merton let us exchange the oriental brotherly "kiss" of Easter. They add "He has risen -Yes, truly". «detailed view»
16. 1961/04/26 TLS to Merton This three last nights where we listened at the radio were a trial and I reminded your verses [sic] «detailed view»
17. 1961/05/29 TALS to Merton Faithful to our pledge sworn eight years ago before the Muslims shrine in Mahrauli, where Gandhi «detailed view»
18. 1961/06/02 other to Merton BADALIYA [-] convocation [-] Vendredi 2 juin 1961, Messe mensuelle à 18 h. 30 dans la chapelle «detailed view»
19. 1961/07/24 other to Merton PÉLERINS DE LA PAIX, CHRÉTIENS ET MUSULMANS ONT PRIÉ DEVANT LES SEPT SAINTS [clipping from the newspaper, Ouest France] «detailed view»
20. 1963/01/08 TL[c]  from Merton to ? Je tiens à vous dire combien j'ai ressenti la perte de ce grand homme que fut Louis Massignon. [addressed to a woman "Madame" - likely either Massignon's widow, Marcelle Dansaert-Testelin, or Massignon's friend from the Badaliya Prayer Movement, Mary Kahil] «detailed view»
21. undated/no/no other to Merton BADALIYA [-] LETTRE XIV [-] commencée à Moscou, 13-14 août 1960 [-] finie à Paris, 6 janvier 1961 «detailed view»

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