St. Anthony’s Greek Orthodox Monastery, Florence AZ

St. Anthony’s is the fountainhead of Athonite monasticism in North America, transplanted here by the Elder Ephraim, former Abbot of Philotheou Monastery on Mount Athos, and disciple of Elder Joseph the Hesychast. Several of Elder Joseph’s disciples went on to contribute greatly to the revitalization of the monastic life on Mount Athos in the latter half of the 20th century, a resurgence still proceeding today.

North American Thebaid Photographic Pilgrimage
A grand waterfall fountain greets visitors on their approach to St Anthony’s main entrance…

From St Anthony’s website:

In the summer of 1995 six monks arrived in the southern Arizona desert to establish St. Anthony’s Monastery, carrying with them the sacred, millennial heritage of the Holy Mountain, Athos. Since early Christian history, this steep and rocky peninsula in northern Greece proved to be a haven for ancient Egyptian, Cappadocian, and Constantinopolitan monastics. Thus, it enjoyed a direct link with the greatest monastic establishments of ancient Christianity, preserving intact the wisdom of the holy fathers and the sacred tradition of the ancient Church. Today, the Holy Mountain consists of 20 independent monasteries, and numerous sketes and hermitages, housing Orthodox Christian monks from all over the world.

There are seventeen Athonite monasteries planted by Elder Ephraim in the USA and Canada, and my modest goal is to visit and photograph a few of them on my North American Thebaid Pilgrimage. Some of them have already had special books published depicting their life and beautiful grounds, including St Anthony’s, where I found this stunning Black & White coffee table book, which does an exquisite job of depicting the life of the monks here.

North American Thebaid Photographic Pilgrimage

Obviously, the photographer had the Abbot’s blessing for unlimited access to make these images, and clearly spent a considerable period of time exploring the different seasons and the extraordinary range of desert light and weather. All the more reason for my profound gratitude to Abbot Paisios for giving me his blessing to make some photographs during my brief three-day visit.

I am dividing my photos from St Anthony’s into two groups: a slide show of photographs taken during the divine services and at trapeza, and a group of photos of the grounds, which provides a good survey of what a pilgrim encounters on a walking tour of the monastery.

For more information on St Anthony’s, and to contact the monastery to schedule a visit, see their website.


Glimpses of Monastic Life at St Anthony’s

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Walking Tour of St Anthony’s Chapels and Grounds