List of Famous Monks

Updated June 14, 2019 342.5k views 60 items

This list of famous monks includes photos, bios, and other information, when available. Who are the top monks in the world? This includes the most prominent monks, living and dead, both in America and abroad. You might also enjoy these photos of monks enjoying beer or the cannibal Aghori monks of India. This list of notable monks is ordered by their level of prominence, and can be sorted for various bits of information, such as where these historic monks were born and what their nationality is. The monk names on this list are from different countries, but what they all have in common is that they're all renowned monks.

Some of the famous monk names listed below include Grigori Rasputin, Martin Luther, and more. Whether you're looking to learn about female monks, Catholic monks, Chinese monks, Asian monks, Italian monks, Buddhist monks, or any other legendary monks, they're sure to be listed below. Even if you're looking for good, cool, or funny monk names, this list has them all. 

From reputable, prominent, and well known monks to, perhaps, a lesser-known monk name with which you aren't yet familiar, these are easily the most notable and famous monks throughout history. Who are the most famous monks ever? What are the names of famous monks? Read on to find out!

Martin Luther is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list List of Famous Monks
Dec. at 63 (1483-1546)

Birthplace: Eisleben, Germany

Martin Luther, , (; German: [ˈmaɐ̯tiːn ˈlʊtɐ]; 10 November 1483 – 18 February 1546) was a German professor of theology, composer, priest, monk, and a seminal figure in the Protestant ...more

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Nhat Hanh is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list List of Famous Monks
Age: 92

Birthplace: Vietnam

Thích Nhất Hạnh (; Vietnamese: [tʰǐk̟ ɲə̌t hâjŋ̟ˀ] (listen); born as Nguyễn Xuân Bảo on October 11, 1926) is a Vietnamese Buddhist monk and peace activist, founder of the Plum ...more
Grigori Rasputin is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list List of Famous Monks
Grigori Rasputin Dec. at 47 (1869-1916)

Birthplace: Pokrovskoye, Russia

Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin (; Russian: Григо́рий Ефи́мович Распу́тин [ɡrʲɪˈɡorʲɪj jɪˈfʲiməvʲɪtɕ rɐˈsputʲɪn]; 22 January [O.S. 9 January] 1869 – 30 December [O.S. 17 December] 1916) was a ...more

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Gregor Mendel is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list List of Famous Monks
Dec. at 62 (1822-1884)

Birthplace: Hynčice, Czech Republic

Gregor Johann Mendel (Czech: Řehoř Jan Mendel; 20 July 1822 – 6 January 1884) (English: ) was a scientist, Augustinian friar and abbot of St. Thomas' Abbey in Brno, Margraviate of Moravia. ...more

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Brendan Smyth is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list List of Famous Monks
Dec. at 70 (1927-1997)

Birthplace: Belfast, United Kingdom

Brendan Smyth O.Praem (8 June 1927 – 22 August 1997) was a Roman Catholic priest from Belfast, Northern Ireland, who became notorious as a child molester, using his position in the Roman ...more
John Main is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list List of Famous Monks
Dec. at 56 (1926-1982)

Birthplace: London, United Kingdom

John Main OSB was a Roman Catholic priest and Benedictine monk who presented a way of Christian meditation which utilised a prayer-phrase or mantra. In 1975 Main began Christian meditation ...more
Richard of Wallingford ... is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list List of Famous Monks
Dec. at 44 (1292-1336)

Birthplace: Wallingford, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom

For the Constable of Wallingford Castle, see Richard of Wallingford.Richard of Wallingford (1292–1336) was an English mathematician, astronomer, horologist, and cleric who made major ...more
Thich Quang Duc is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list List of Famous Monks
Thich Quang Duc Dec. at 66 (1897-1963)

Birthplace: Hội Khánh, Vietnam

Thích Quảng Đức (Vietnamese: [tʰǐk̟ kʷâːŋ ɗɨ̌k] (listen); 1897 – 11 June 1963; born Lâm Văn Túc) was a Vietnamese Mahayana Buddhist monk who burned himself to death at ...more
Patriarch Alexy II of Mo... is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list List of Famous Monks
Dec. at 79 (1929-2008)

Birthplace: Tallinn, Estonia

Patriarch Alexy II (or Alexius II, Russian: Патриарх Алексий II; secular name Aleksei Mikhailovich Ridiger Russian: Алексе́й Миха́йлович Ри́дигер; 23 February 1929 – 5 December 2008) was the ...more
Buddha is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list List of Famous Monks

Birthplace: Lumbini, Nepal

Siddhārtha Gautama (Sanskrit: सिद्धार्थ गौतम Siddhāṛtha Gautama, c. 563/480 – c. 483/400 BCE) or Siddhattha Gotama (शिद्धत्थ गोतम) in Pali, also called the Gautama Buddha, the Shakyamuni (i.e. ...more

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Benedetto Pallavicino is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list List of Famous Monks
Dec. at 50 (1551-1601)

Birthplace: Cremona, Italy

Benedetto Pallavicino (c. 1551 – 26 November 1601) was an Italian composer and organist of the late Renaissance. A prolific composer of madrigals, he was resident at the Gonzaga court of Mantua ...more
Attilio Ariosti is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list List of Famous Monks
Dec. at 63 (1666-1729)

Birthplace: Bologna, Italy

Attilio Malachia Ariosti (or Frate Ottavio) (5 November 1666 – 1729) was a Servite Friar and Italian composer in the Baroque style, born in Bologna. He produced more than 30 operas and ...more
Charles Sydney Gibbes is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list List of Famous Monks
Dec. at 87 (1876-1963)

Birthplace: Rotherham, United Kingdom

Charles Sydney Gibbes (19 January 1876 – 24 March 1963) was a British academic who from 1908 to 1917 served as the English tutor to the children of Emperor Nicholas II of Russia. When Nicholas ...more
William of Gellone is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list List of Famous Monks
Dec. at 57 (755-812)

Birthplace: France

William of Gellone (c. 755 – 28 May 812 or 814 AD), the medieval William of Orange, was the second Duke of Toulouse from 790 until 811. In 804, he founded the abbey of Gellone. He was canonized ...more
Matthieu Ricard is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list List of Famous Monks
Matthieu Ricard Age: 73

Birthplace: Aix-les-Bains, France

Matthieu Ricard (Nepali: माथ्यु रिका, born 15 February 1946) is a French writer, photographer, translator and Buddhist monk who resides at Shechen Tennyi Dargyeling Monastery in Nepal. Matthieu ...more
Cesare Bonizzi is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list List of Famous Monks
Age: 73

Birthplace: Offanengo, Italy

Father Cesare Bonizzi, O.F.M. Cap. (born 15 March 1946), also known as Frate Cesare and Fratello Metallo ("Brother Metal") - which was also the name of his band, is an Italian Capuchin ...more
Bede Griffiths is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list List of Famous Monks
Dec. at 87 (1906-1993)

Birthplace: Walton-on-Thames, United Kingdom

Bede Griffiths, OSB Cam., (17 December 1906 – 13 May 1993), born Alan Richard Griffiths and also known by the end of his life as Swami Dayananda ("bliss of compassion"), was a ...more
U Gambira is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list List of Famous Monks
Age: 39

Birthplace: Myanmar

U Gambira (Burmese: ရှင်ဂမ္ဘီရ; born 19 June 1979) is a former Buddhist monk, activist and a leader of the All-Burma Monks' Alliance, a group which helped lead the 2007 protests against Burma's ...more
Thích Quảng Độ is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list List of Famous Monks
Age: 90

Birthplace: Vietnam

Thích Quảng Độ (born 27 November 1928) is a Vietnamese Buddhist monk and patriarch of the Unified Buddhist Sangha of Vietnam, a currently banned religious body in Vietnam. In 2002, he was ...more
Lou Tseng-Tsiang is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list List of Famous Monks
Dec. at 78 (1871-1949)

Birthplace: Zhejiang, China

Lou Tseng-Tsiang or Lu Zhengxiang (Lù Zhēngxiáng) (Chinese: 陸徵祥; 12 June 1871 – 15 January 1949) was a Chinese diplomat and a Roman Catholic monk. He was twice Premier of the ...more
Nanavira Thera is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list List of Famous Monks
Dec. at 45 (1920-1965)

Birthplace: Aldershot, United Kingdom

Ñāṇavīra Thera (born Harold Edward Musson; 5 January 1920 – 5 July 1965) was an English Theravāda Buddhist monk, ordained in 1950 in Sri Lanka. He is known as the author of Notes on ...more
Thomas à Kempis ... is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list List of Famous Monks
Dec. at 91 (1380-1471)

Birthplace: Kempen, Germany

Thomas à Kempis, CRSA (c. 1380 – 25 July 1471), was a German-Dutch canon regular of the late medieval period and the author of The Imitation of Christ, one of the most popular and best ...more
Yunmen Wenyan is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list List of Famous Monks
Dec. at 87 (862-949)

Birthplace: Jiaxing, China

Yúnmén Wényǎn (862 or 864 – 949 CE; 雲門文偃; Japanese: うんもんぶんえん, Ummon Bun'en; also known in English as "Unmon", "Ummon Daishi", "Ummon Zenji"), ...more
Fra Simone da Carnuli is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list List of Famous Monks
Fra Simone da Carnuli
Fra Simone da Carnuli (born 15th century) was an Italian (Genoese) painter. He was a Franciscan friar of Genoa. He painted several pictures for his convent, two of which are dated 1519, ...more
Adrian Urmanov is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list List of Famous Monks
Age: 39

Birthplace: Ploiești, Romania

An important figure of the 2000s generation and the founder of the movement called Utilitarism. In 2004 he became a Christian Orthodox monk.