Object of the FriendsThe object of the society is officially described in its constitution as: "the advancement of education of the public in the study and knowledge of the history, culture, arts, architecture, natural history, and literature of the Orthodox monasteries of Mount Athos and the promotion of the religious and other charitable work of the Holy Community and monasteries of Mount Athos". In keeping with those objects, the society is empowered "to make grants, donations and other payments for the restoration or conservation of buildings or of works of art and books of educational or religious significance on Mount Athos within the above objects." To that end the society produces publications, arranges lectures, and organizes conferences and exhibitions devoted to Athonite themes.
Concerns of the FriendsThe society also acts as a group of concerned friends and supporters of Mount Athos, who will provide assistance wherever practicable, in consultation with the monastic authorities. The society has no specifically political aspirations. Nor is it primarily a fund-raising body. The assistance to be provided is more likely to take the form of liaison, expertise, or equipment for which the monks have expressed a need.
It aims above all to be a society of friends, who will be both friends with one another and friends with the monks, and who will share with each other their experiences of this "station of a faith where all the years have stopped", but which remains very much alive today.
Publications of the Friends
- Annual Report: a wide-ranging journal that includes an
editorial on the society's year, a report of recent developments direct
from the Mountain, articles and book reviews on topics of Athonite
interest. Copies of the Annual Report are free to members. Reviews published in the Annual Report
are also published on this website in our Books section.
- A Pilgrim's Guide to Mount Athos: a booklet containing
up-to-date information and advice for those planning to make a pilgrimage
to the Holy Mountain. Printed copies of the Pilgrim's Guide are free to
- Directory: an annual list of members and their
addresses. Free to members.
- Other publications, such as translations of works of Athonite spirituality, are from time to time produced in collaboration with the monasteries.
Meetings of the Friends
- Vasilopitta: the year begins in traditional Greek style with a
Vasilopitta party in London, a social gathering enabling members to get to
know one another.
- AGM: the Annual General Meeting (AGM) takes place in the spring in
Oxford. It usually takes the form of a one-day conference at which, in
addition to the formal business of the AGM, a variety of talks are
presented on themes of Athonite concern.
- Winter meeting: the society meets again in the late autumn in London
for a lecture by an invited speaker.
- Other events, such as conferences, exhibitions, and pilgrimages are held from time to time.