The Friends of Mount Athos


Metropolitan Kallistos of Diokleia

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The Eighth Madingley Conference
Mount Athos and Russia 1016 - 2016
A Symposium Celebrating 1000 Years of Russian Monastic Presence on Mount Athos
3 – 5 February, 2017



The theme of our 2017 residential conference will be Mount Athos and Russia, complementing the celebrations of 1000 years of Russian monastic presence on the Holy Mountain that have been taking place during the course of this summer. The first mention of a Russian monastery on the Holy Mountain was in 1016, and a series of events have occurred already this year to mark this millennium.

As our Chairman, Dr Graham Speake, has written: “Some of the most celebrated names in the history of Russian spirituality have been Athonites. Russians have contributed generously to the spiritual and cultural traditions of the Holy Mountain, just as Greek Athonites continue to have a significant impact on the spiritual life of the Russian Orthodox Church”.

The conference will bring together a distinguished group of speakers from Russia, the Ukraine, Finland and the United Kingdom, to explore various aspects of the Russian associations with Mount Athos.

A historical perspective will be provided by Sergey Viktorovich Shumilo, from the Ukraine. He will talk about the early Russian presence on the Holy Mountain, and the life of St Anthony, founder (with Saint Theodosius ) of the Caves of Kiev.

Hieromonk Irinei (Pikovskiy) , from the Sretensky Monastery in Moscow will examine how recent Athonite elders have influenced contemporary spiritual life in Russia, and inspired a renewal of Russian pilgrimage to the Holy Mountain.

Professor Rene Gothoni, from the University of Helsinki, will look at the history of Russian pilgrimage to Athos since the 12th century, and Archpriest Professor Andrew Louth will talk about the way in which the short 19th century Russian story, “The Way of a Pilgrim” was influential in promoting the use of the Jesus prayer, and the reading of the Philokalia.

Our President, Metropolitan Kallistos, will open the Conference by looking at the life of Saint Nil Sorsky, who spent time on Athos in the 15th century before returning to Russia to revive monastic life in the Athonite tradition. Hieromonk Nikolai (Sakharov) concentrate on the 20th century Russian Saint Silouan, and his disciple and biographer, Father Sophrony. Dr Nicholas Fennell will consider the influence of Archimandrite Misail (Abbot of the Holy Monastery of Saint Panteleimon from 1905 to 1940) and the Monastery’s subsequent development.

Our biennial conferences have proved extremely popular. Held in Madingley Hall, an impressive and historic house, set in lovely grounds just on the outskirts of Cambridge, the standard of lectures has been consistently high, and the proceedings of several past conferences have been published. The setting has also provided opportunities for meeting friends, pleasant conversation and good food. The small church has allowed us to hold services, culminating in the Divine Liturgy on Sunday morning.

We expect demand for places at this conference to be exceptionally high, and early booking is strongly recommended. You will find a booking form attached, in editable PDF form (so it can be completed and returned electronically, or printed and posted back to me). I also attach a poster, which you may find can be displayed in your Church or college.


This will be our eighth weekend conference at Madingley.  This impressive and historic house dates from the sixteenth century and stands in its own grounds amid beautiful country three miles west of Cambridge. The surrounding park was landscaped by ‘Capability’ Brown in 1756. In the 1860s Queen Victoria rented the house as a residence for The Prince of Wales when he was an undergraduate. Bought by the University of Cambridge in 1948, it operates as a centre for continuing and adult education. The house has been extensively refurbished to provide disabled access, en-suite facilities to all study bedrooms, well-equipped meeting rooms, and a bar. Meals are taken in the great hall where the cuisine achieves a high standard. We are fortunate to have the use of the nearby parish church for our services during the weekend.

File source:

Since the number of places is strictly limited, persons wishing to attend are advised to make a reservation as soon as possible. The conference is also open to non-members. (Bursaries are available)

View Downloadable & Printable Booking Form