READ 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!

1
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

2
Nhat Hanh is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list List of Famous Monks
age 91 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

3
Grigori Rasputin is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list List of Famous Monks
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

4
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

5
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

6
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

7
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.

8
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

9
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

10
Gautama 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

11
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

12
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.

13
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

14
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

15
Matthieu Ricard is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list List of Famous Monks
Matthieu Ricard age 72 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

16
Cesare Bonizzi is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list List of Famous Monks
age 72 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.

17
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

18
U Gambira is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list List of Famous Monks
age 38 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

19
Thích Quảng Độ is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list List of Famous Monks
age 89 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

20
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

21
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

22
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

23
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

24
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

25
Adrian Urmanov is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list List of Famous Monks
age 38 An important figure of the 2000s generation and the founder of the movement called Utilitarism. In 2004 he became a Christian Orthodox monk.

26
Anselm Hurt is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list List of Famous Monks
Anselm Hurt Anselm Hurt is a monk and the older brother of actor John Hurt.

27
Shi Yan Ming is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list List of Famous Monks
age 54 Shi Yan Ming is a 34th generation Shaolin warrior monk, teacher and actor, best known as the founder of the USA Shaolin Temple. Trained at the Shaolin Temple in Henan, People's Republic of China ...more

28
Tripurari Swami is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list List of Famous Monks
Tripurari Swami age 69 Tripurari Swami, also known as Swami BV Tripurari, is an American author, poet, and guru, described as "a prominent master in the Gaudiya Vaishnava lineage", and "one of the ...more

29
Huangbo Xiyun is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list List of Famous Monks
Huángbò Xīyùn was an influential Chinese master of Zen Buddhism during the Tang Dynasty. Huángbò was a disciple of Baizhang Huaihai, and the teacher of Linji

30
Palden Gyatso is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list List of Famous Monks
Palden Gyatso age 85 Palden Gyatso is a Tibetan Buddhist monk who was born in Tibet in 1933. During the Chinese invasion of Tibet he was arrested for protesting and spent 33 years in Chinese prisons and labor camps, ...more

31
Henry de Sully is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list List of Famous Monks
Henry de Sully Henry de Sully was a medieval Abbot of Fécamp and Bishop-designate of Salisbury and Archbishop-elect of York.

32
Nestor the Chronicler is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list List of Famous Monks
Nestor the Chronicler Dec. at 58 (1056-1114) Saint Nestor the Chronicler was the reputed author of the Primary Chronicle, Life of the Venerable Theodosius of the Kiev Caves, Life of the Holy Passion Bearers, Boris and Gleb, and of the ...more

33
Sarvajna is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list List of Famous Monks
Sarvajna Sarvajña was a Kannada poet, pragmatist and philosopher of the 16th century. The word "Sarvajna" in Sanskrit literally means "the all knowing". He is famous for his ...more

34
Ferréol of Uzès is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list List of Famous Monks
Ferréol of Uzès Dec. at 51 (530-581) Saint Ferréol of Uzès was bishop of Uzès and possibly bishop of Nîmes. His Feast Day is January 4. He was born in Narbonne, apparently a grandson of Cloderic of the ...more

35
Tenzin Zopa is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list List of Famous Monks
Tenzin Zopa age 43 Tenzin Zopa is a Tibetan Buddhist monk.

36
Hugh II of Vermandois is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list List of Famous Monks
Hugh II of Vermandois Dec. at 85 (1127-1212) Hugh II "The Monk", count of Vermandois and Valois, resigned his titles in 1160 and became a monk, canonized 1177 (b. Amiens, 9.4.1127 - m. Caerfroy Cloister, near Paris, 4.11.1212).

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Pepin the Hunchback is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list List of Famous Monks
Dec. at 42 (769-811) Pepin, or Pippin, the Hunchback was the eldest son of Charlemagne. Born to the Frankish noblewoman Himiltrude, Pepin probably developed kyphosis after birth, leading early medieval historians to ...more

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Hermann Anton Gelinek is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list List of Famous Monks
Hermann Anton Gelinek Dec. at 70 (1709-1779) Hermann Anton Gelinek was a German monk and musician. Gelinek was born in Horzeniowes, Bohemia, and became a priest at the Premonstratensian Abbey in Seelau in 1728, then traveled to Vienna to ...more

39
Peter Colechurch is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list List of Famous Monks
Peter Colechurch

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Jianzhi Sengcan is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list List of Famous Monks
Jianzhi Sengcan is known as the Third Chinese Patriarch of Chán after Bodhidharma and thirtieth Patriarch after Siddhārtha Gautama Buddha. He is considered to be the Dharma successor of ...more

41
James of Aragon is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list List of Famous Monks
James of Aragon James (Jaume) (b. 29 September 1296 - d. Tarragona, July 1334) was the son of James II of Aragon and Blanche of Anjou. James renounced his right to the throne in 1319 to become a monk. He ...more

42
Isembert de Saintes is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list List of Famous Monks
Isembert de Saintes

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Losang Samten is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list List of Famous Monks
Losang Samten age 65 Losang Samten is an American Tibetan scholar, sand mandala artist, former Buddhist monk, and Spiritual Director of the Tibetan Buddhist Center of Philadelphia. He is one of only an estimated 30 ...more

44
Anthony the Hermit is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list List of Famous Monks
Dec. at 52 (468-520) Anthony the Hermit, also known as Antony of Lérins, is a Christian saint. He was born in the ancient Roman province of Valeria, then part of the Hunnic Empire. When he was eight years ...more

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Dr. Kagyur T. Rinpoche Thakur is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list List of Famous Monks
Dr. Kagyur T. Rinpoche Thakur Dr. Kagyur T. Rinpoche Thakur is the husband of Mandakini.

46
William of Normandy is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list List of Famous Monks

47
Luang Pu Thuat is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list List of Famous Monks
Luang Pu Thuat Dec. at 100 (1582-1682) Luang Pu Thuat, also known as Luang Pu Thuad, Luang Por Tuad, Luang Phu Tuad, and various other spellings. Luang Pu Thuat was born in 1582 and died 1682 in Ayer Kala, Lenggong, Perak, Malaysia. ...more

48
Somdej Toh is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list List of Famous Monks
Somdej Toh Dec. at 84 (1788-1872) Somdej Toh, known formally as Phra Buddhacharn Toh Phomarangsi, was one of the most famous Buddhist monks during Thailand's Rattanakosin Period.

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Benedict of Nursia is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list List of Famous Monks
Dec. at 63 (480-543) Benedict of Norcia is a Christian saint, honoured by the Catholic Church and the Anglican Church as the patron saint of Europe and students. Benedict founded twelve communities for monks at ...more

50
Bernard of Clairvaux is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list List of Famous Monks
Dec. at 63 (1090-1153) Bernard of Clairvaux, O.Cist was a French abbot and the primary builder of the reforming Cistercian order. After the death of his mother, Bernard sought admission into the Cistercian order. ...more