The Friends of Mount Athos


Metropolitan Kallistos of Diokleia

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A Pilgrim's Guide
to Mount Athos

A Pilgrim's Guide to Mount Athos:

A Note about the Forms and Spellings of Monastery Names

Explanation of Monastery Naming Conventions

The names of monasteries, sketes and cells on Mt Athos typically take the form of the possessives, a word such as “monastery” or “skete” being understood:
(monastery) of [name]
In formal usage, the name of a monastery is usually expressed more fully:
Holy Monastery of Xeropotamou

Thus, the names of monasteries often end with the Greek possessive endings:

Possessive Endings:



  -ou (singular)


Of Philotheos (a personal name, meaning ”Friend of God“


-os (alternate singular)



Of Pantokrator (”of the Almighty“)

Of Panteleimon (a personal name, meaning ”all merciful“)


-on (plural)


Of the Ivirites (the Georgians)

Conventions of Naming in English

In English conventional usage, however, there is no consistency in the form and spelling of the names of the Athonite monasteries. Some monasteries have come to be best known by their names with the possessive suffixes, others without them. For others, both forms are widely used:
Koutloumousi, Koutloumousiou
Panteleimon, Panteleimonos
Moreover, some monastic names exhibit diverse orthographic traditions in the original languages:
Vatopedi (transliteration of a Greek spelling)
Vatopaidi (transliteration of a different Greek spelling)
Chilandari (traditional transliteration of Greek spelling with Greek inflected ending -i)
Hilandari (phonetic transliteration of Greek spelling with Greek inflected ending -i)
Hilandar (phonetic transliteration of Serbian spelling)

Spellings of Monastery Names Adopted by The Friends of Mount Athos

The Friends of Mount Athos have adopted spellings that reflect common and widespread English usage, since adopting any consistent principle would be both arbitrary and pedantic.  These forms, occurring throughout A Pilgrim’s Guide to Mount Athos, may conveniently be seen in our various lists in this Guide (“Foundation and dedication of the monasteries,” “useful Telephone numbers” and our list of sketes) as well as in the Friends of Mount Athos web site (

Different spelling conventions may be used by writers whose work is cited or reproduced in these and other Friends of Mount Athos publications, newsletters and announcements.

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Header Image: Detail from a pilgrimage souvenir print produced for Philotheou Monastery in 1849. The detail depicts the arrival of the "pious pilgrims" on horseback, with the monastery on the left and two monks waiting to greet the arriving pilgrims.
Photograph by Robert W. Alllison, © 2011.
The original print bears the following inscription (in Greek):
This bronzeplate print of the Holy Monastery of Philotheou on the Holy Mountain of Athos was printed at the personal expense of Nikolas Emmanouel Chionakes of Crete for the salvation of his soul and those of his parents and kin, and it was dedicated freely for pious pilgrims.
Printed in Moscow on 4 August, 1849.