Book Series Art History (Outside a Series)

Encounters on the Holy Mountain: Stories from Mount Athos

Peter Howorth, Chris Thomas (eds)

  • Pages: 304 p.
  • Size:300 x 240 mm
  • Illustrations:25 b/w, 130 col., 1 maps b/w
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:2020

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-58911-4
  • Hardback
  • Available

An affectionate testament to Mount Athos, the Holy Mountain, after 30 years of activity of the Friends of Mount Athos


"The book is richly equipped with photographs, especially well integrated in connection with articles on flora, iconography, personal confessions and experiences of the author in the first and second parts of the book, as well as in connection with detailed descriptions of the monastic restoration of Mount Athos in the seventies and eighties of the twentieth century." (Slaviša Kostić, in: Теолошки погледи / Theological Views, VI, 2023/1, p. 153-159)


Peter Howorth and Chris Thomas are long time members of the Friends of Mount Athos and veterans of multiple path-clearing pilgrimages to the Holy Mountain which is how they met. Despite living on opposite sides of the planet, their mutual passion for the planet, geography, pilgrimage and of course Mount Athos has underpinned their collaboration.

Peter Howorth produces maps of the Holy Mountain that have sold to over 44 countries, and this work has fuelled his love for the place and the men. He is an engineer, and had a career managing major projects internationally, and started drawing maps when invited to help with the republication of Dare to be Free, a WW2 memoir that involved the Holy Mountain. He is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.

Chris Thomas is the managing director of a successful sports technology business. He is a trustee of the Friends of Mount Athos, a member of Mensa, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and, like Peter, a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. He is the proud father of three adult children, he loves Arsenal FC and football in general and is proud to have coined the slogan for EURO 96: 'Football Comes Home', which has since become part of common parlance.


Mount Athos, the home of Orthodox spirituality and monasticism, has been in existence for at least 1200 years. Home to over 2,000 monks, in twenty glorious monasteries filled with treasures, the peninsula is undergoing a transformation and renewal of faith.

In 1956 there was a proposal to build hotels on Mount Athos. Today it hosts up to 1,000 pilgrims every day! Why? This book will help explain this extraordinary place, the current resurgence, the growing population of monks, the sense of purpose, the love and affection that are so much part of the environment.

This wonderful story, with a preface by HRH Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, is told through the recollections of the Friends of Mount Athos, an organisation that has, for thirty years, provided support for the institutions, landscape and people. Here are the stories of enchantment from over forty people of different nationalities, customs and beliefs.

In addition to the text, there are a collection of special photographs and a map.


Front Matter     
Table of Contents     
Foreword by HRH The Prince of Wales
Peter Howorth & Chris Thomas - Introduction 

Part One - Before 
Robert Byron - Simopetra (Simonos Petras)   
Sandy Thomas - Monoxylites, 1941   
Peter McIntyre - Citations, A visit in 1944   
John Warrack - The Diary   
Michael R  Bruce - Athos Revisited  
Sydney Loch - The Capital Town, Karyes    
Joice Loch - The End    

Part Two - Encounters 
John McCormack - Athos Forty Years Ago
Scott Cairns - A Short Trip to the Edge. A Pilgrimage to Prayer
Fr Richard Edwards - God's Reason for a Pilgrimage to Mount Athos
Nicholas Shakespeare - Journey's End
Nicholas Talbot Rice - Holy Mount Athos, Station of Faith  
Neil Averrit - The Single Gospel   
John Campbell - Wandering
Trevor Curnow - Athos in 1985
Trevor Curnow - Pantokrator and Me  
Ben Martin - My Recollections of Mount Athos, and an Encounter on London Bridge 
Shaun Leavey - Two Rather Different Pilgrimages 
Roumen Avramov - The Holy Mountain - Personal Fragments  
Robert W. Allison - The Bumblebee   
Chris Thomas - Impostor Syndrome
John Mole - The King's Wine   
DJ Caso - The Mountain    
Veronica Della Dora - From Space   
Graham Speake - 'The highest place on earth': Climbing the Mountain   
Alastair Sawday - Travelling Light: Mount Athos  
Daniel Eriksen - Visits to Mount Athos  
Kallistos Ware - Fifty-Four Years as an Athonite Pilgrim 
Doug Patterson - Mount Athos: The Artist  
Andreas Chrysanthou - A Visit   
Douglas Dales - Ad Limina: On the Boundary
Artur  Scholtes - My First Visit to the Holy Mountain
Derek Simons - How I got lost and met a Saint 
Jonathan Dunne - Athos Diary   
Bart Janssens - A Catechumen   
Colin Whorlow - Nineteen Ninety-Eight
Christopher Deliso - Twenty Years of Gratitude: Lifes since Athos
Terry Swehla - A Family Affair   
Thomas Stoor - Waves of Eternal Praise  
Anna Conomos-Wedlock - An Athonite Childhood

Part Three - FOMA Foothpaths Project
John Arnell & Trevor Curnow - Early Days
Dimitris Bakalis - Not on My Shift
Dominic Solly - The First Lopper?   
Andrew Buchanan - Brotherhood on The Holy Mountain
David Holloway - Reflection
David Stothard - Surprise, Grace and Serenity 
John Mole - A Lopper's Diary   
John Mole - Brotherhood of the Loppers  
David Bayne - Mount Athos over Fifty Years
John Andrews - An Orthodox Pathclearer  

Part Four - Back Matter 
Leslie Currie - Food: Mount Athos May 2019   
Peter Brian Desmond - Athonite Iconography and the Patriarch
Oliver Rackham - Our Lady's Garden: The Historical Ecology of the Holy Mountain 
Philip H. Oswald - From the Shore to the Summit: The Vegetation and Flora of the Holy Mountain 
Dimitri Conomos - Two Syndesmos Sagas
Peter Howorth - The Map
Peter Howorth - Monastic Medicine
Trevor Curnow - A Brief Introduction to the Monasteries of Mount Athos
Trevor Curnow & Chris Thomas - The Diamonitirion

Author Biographies
Book List
List of Illustrations