List of Famous Monks

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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)
Martin Luther was a German friar, priest and professor of theology who was a seminal figure in the Protestant Reformation. Initially an Augustinian friar, Luther came to reject several teachings ...more
Nhat Hanh is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list List of Famous Monks
age 92
Thích Nhất Hạnh is a Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk, teacher, author, poet and peace activist. He lives in the Plum Village Monastery in the Dordogne region in the South of France, ...more
Grigori Rasputin is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list List of Famous Monks
Grigori Rasputin Dec. at 47 (1869-1916)
Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin was a Russian peasant, mystical faith healer and a trusted friend to the Tsar's family. He became an influential figure in Saint Petersburg, especially after August ...more
Gregor Mendel is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list List of Famous Monks
Dec. at 62 (1822-1884)
Gregor Johann Mendel was a German-speaking Moravian scientist and Augustinian friar who gained posthumous fame as the founder of the modern science of genetics. Though farmers had known for ...more
Brendan Smyth is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list List of Famous Monks
Dec. at 70 (1927-1997)
Brendan Smyth was a Roman Catholic priest who became notorious as a child molester, using his position in the Roman Catholic Church to obtain access to his victims. During a period of over 40 ...more
John Main is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list List of Famous Monks
Dec. at 56 (1926-1982)
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)
Richard of Wallingford was an English mathematician who made major contributions to astronomy/astrology and horology while serving as abbot of St Albans Abbey in Hertfordshire.
Thich Quang Duc is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list List of Famous Monks
Thich Quang Duc Dec. at 66 (1897-1963)
Thích Quảng Đức, was a Vietnamese Mahayana Buddhist monk who burned himself to death at a busy Saigon road intersection on 11 June 1963. Quang Duc was protesting the persecution of ...more
Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list List of Famous Monks
Dec. at 79 (1929-2008)
Patriarch Alexy II was the 15th Patriarch of Moscow and all Rus', the primate of the Russian Orthodox Church. Elected Patriarch of Moscow eighteen months prior to the fall of the Soviet Union, ...more
Buddha is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list List of Famous Monks
Gautama Buddha, also known as Siddhārtha Gautama, Shakyamuni, or simply the Buddha, was a sage on whose teachings Buddhism was founded. He is believed to have lived and taught mostly in eastern ...more
Benedetto Pallavicino is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list List of Famous Monks
Dec. at 50 (1551-1601)
Benedetto Pallavicino was an Italian composer and organist of the late Renaissance. A prolific composer of madrigals, he was resident at the Gonzaga court of Mantua in the 1590s, where he was a ...more
Attilio Ariosti is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list List of Famous Monks
Dec. at 63 (1666-1729)
Attilio Malachia Ariosti was a Servite Friar and Italian composer in the Baroque style, born in Bologna. He produced more than 30 operas and oratorios, numerous cantatas and instrumental works.
Charles Sydney Gibbes is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list List of Famous Monks
Dec. at 87 (1876-1963)
Charles Sydney Gibbes 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 abdicated the throne in March 1917 ...more
William of Gellone is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list List of Famous Monks
Dec. at 57 (755-812)
Saint William of Gellone, also known as William of Aquitaine, was the second Count of Toulouse from 790 until his replacement in 811. His Occitan name is Guilhem, and he is known in French as ...more
Matthieu Ricard is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list List of Famous Monks
Matthieu Ricard age 73
Matthieu Ricard is a French Buddhist monk who resides at Shechen Tennyi Dargyeling Monastery in Nepal. Born in Aix-les-Bains, Savoie, France, he is the son of the late Jean-François ...more
Cesare Bonizzi is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list List of Famous Monks
age 73
Father Cesare Bonizzi, O.F.M. Cap., also known as Frate Cesare and Fratello Metallo - which was also the name of his band, is a Capuchin friar, who was known as a heavy metal singer.
Bede Griffiths is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list List of Famous Monks
Dec. at 87 (1906-1993)
Bede Griffiths OSB Cam, born Alan Richard Griffiths and also known by the end of his life as Swami Dayananda, was a British-born Benedictine monk who lived in ashrams in South India and became a ...more
U Gambira is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list List of Famous Monks
age 39
U Gambira, is a leader of the All-Burma Monks' Alliance, a group which helped lead the 2007 protests against Burma's military government. Following the protests, he went into hiding and ...more
Thích Quảng Độ is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list List of Famous Monks
age 90
Thích Quảng Độ is a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, patriarch of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam, a currently banned religious body in Vietnam. In 2002, he was awarded the Homo Homini ...more
Lou Tseng-Tsiang is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list List of Famous Monks
Dec. at 78 (1871-1949)
Lou Tseng-Tsiang was a Chinese diplomat and a Roman Catholic monk. He was twice Premier of the Republic of China and led his country's delegation at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919. He ...more
Nanavira Thera is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list List of Famous Monks
Dec. at 45 (1920-1965)
Ñāṇavīra Thera was an English Theravāda Buddhist monk, ordained in 1950 in Sri Lanka. He is known as the author of Notes on Dhamma, which were later published by Path Press together with ...more
Thomas à Kempis is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list List of Famous Monks
Dec. at 91 (1380-1471)
Thomas à Kempis, C.R.S.A. was a German canon regular of the late medieval period and the most probable author of The Imitation of Christ, which is one of the best known Christian books on ...more
Yunmen Wenyan is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list List of Famous Monks
Dec. at 87 (862-949)
Yúnmén Wényǎn, was a major Chinese Zen master in Tang-era China. He was a dharma-heir of Xuefeng Yicun Yunmen founded the Yunmen school, one of the five major schools of ...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 was an Italian painter. He was a Franciscan monk of Genoa. He painted several pictures for his convent, two of which, representing the Last Supper and Preaching of St. ...more
Adrian Urmanov is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list List of Famous Monks
age 39
An important figure of the 2000s generation and the founder of the movement called Utilitarism. In 2004 he became a Christian Orthodox monk.