Skip to main content

Villanova Art Gallery Celebrates “Zen Photography of Thomas Merton” in Centenary Tribute

The public exhibit opens on August 20

Thomas Merton

VILLANOVA, Pa. – An exhibit titled, “The Zen Photography of Thomas Merton: A Hidden Wholeness,” opening August 20 at the Villanova University Art Gallery, showcases the camera work of Thomas Merton, a Trappist priest who sought to build world interfaith understanding through immersion in Zen Buddhism.

Comprised of 35 black and white photos, the display presents Merton’s distinct ability to capture the everyday and ordinary. The exhibit continues through September 24.

The campus community is invited to a reception from 5-7 p.m., Friday, August 28, to celebrate the formal opening of the exhibit. Immediately following the reception, Dr. Paul Pearson, director of the Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University in Louisville, KY, will give a talk about Merton and his influence on Catholicism and religion around the world.

“Zen photography calls out from us the importance, the urgency of seeing, fully aware, experiencing what is here – what is given by God and hidden by society,” said Pearson. “Instead of looking for God in the spectacular sunset, the breathtaking view, in a sacred space, or in some preconceived way, we have to stop and see God in the ordinary, everyday things of our life.”     

The exhibit and other campus activities join a year-long, world-wide observance of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Merton, who is seen by many as the 20th century's most influential Catholic writer and champion of world ecumenism. More information on the upcoming schedule of campus events surrounding the Merton centennial may be found at   

The Art Gallery is open weekdays from 9 a.m. into most evenings. For extended and weekend hours, and other information, call the Art Gallery at (610) 519-4612.  Selected works in the Thomas Merton exhibit may be previewed on the gallery’s website at

About Villanova University: Since 1842, Villanova University’s Augustinian Catholic intellectual tradition has been the cornerstone of an academic community in which students learn to think critically, act compassionately and succeed while serving others. There are more than 10,000 undergraduate, graduate and law students in the University's six colleges – the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Villanova School of Business, the College of Engineering, the College of Nursing, the College of Professional Studies and the Villanova University School of Law. As students grow intellectually, Villanova prepares them to become ethical leaders who create positive change everywhere life takes them. For more, visit