Dorothy Day, Obl.S.B. (November 8, 1897 – November 29, 1980) was an American journalist, social activist, and Catholic convert. Day initially lived a bohemian lifestyle before gaining fame as a social activist after her conversion. She later became a key figure in the Catholic Worker Movement and earned a national reputation as a political radical, perhaps the most famous radical in American Catholic Church history.
Day's conversion is described in her autobiography, The Long Loneliness. Day was also an active journalist and described her social activism in her writings. In 1917 she was imprisoned as a member of suffragist Alice Paul's nonviolent Silent Sentinels. In the 1930s, Day worked closely with fellow activist Peter Maurin to establish the Catholic Worker Movement, a pacifist movement that combines direct aid for the poor and homeless with nonviolent direct action on their behalf. She practiced civil disobedience, which led to additional arrests in 1955, 1957, and in 1973 at the age of seventy-five.As part of the Catholic Worker Movement, Day co-founded the Catholic Worker newspaper in 1933, and served as its editor from 1933 until her death in 1980. In this newspaper, Day advocated the Catholic economic theory of distributism, which she considered a third way between capitalism and socialism. Dorothy Day's life is an inspiration for the Catholic Church. Pope Benedict XVI used her conversion story as an example of how to "journey towards faith... in a secularized environment." Pope Francis included her in a short list of exemplary Americans, together with Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Thomas Merton, in his address before the United States Congress. The Church has opened the cause for Day's possible canonization, which was accepted by the Holy See for investigation. Due to this, the Church refers to her with the title of Servant of God.
Day suffered a heart attack and died on November 29, 1980, at Maryhouse on East 3rd Street in Manhattan. Cardinal Terence Cooke greeted her funeral procession at the Church of the Nativity, the local parish church. Day was buried in the Cemetery of the Resurrection on Staten Island just a few blocks from the beachside cottage where she first became interested in Catholicism. Her gravestone is inscribed with the words Deo Gratias. Day's daughter Tamar, the mother of nine children, was with her mother when she died, and she and her father joined the funeral procession and attended a later memorial Mass the cardinal celebrated at St. Patrick's Cathedral. Day and Batterham had remained lifelong friends.
Day made Judith Palache Gregory, a trusted friend and former member of the New York Catholic Worker community, executor of her will.