The Philokalia

An essential text for anyone following the Desert Tradition is The Philokalia.
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“The Philokalia (Ancient Greek: φιλοκαλία, from φιλία philia “love” + κάλλος kallos “beauty”: “love of the beautiful, the good”) is “a collection of texts written between the 4th and 15th centuries by spiritual masters” of the Eastern Orthodox hesychast tradition. They were originally written for the guidance and instruction of monks in “the practise of the contemplative life”. The collection was compiled in the eighteenth-century by St. Nikodemos of the Holy Mountain and St. Makarios of Corinth.
philokalia nicodemus
St. Nikodemos of the Holy Mountain (c1749-1809)
philokalia macarius
St. Makarios of Corinth (1731-1805)

Although these works were individually known in the monastic culture of Greek Orthodox Christianity before their inclusion in The Philokalia, their presence in this collection resulted in a much wider readership due to its translation into several languages.

The earliest translations included a Church Slavonic translation of selected texts by Paisius Velichkovsky (Dobrotolublye) in 1793, a Russian translation by Ignatius Bryanchaninov in 1857, and a five-volume translation into Russian (Dobrotolyubie) by St. Theophan the Recluse in 1877. There were subsequent Romanian, Italian and French translations.
philokalia paisius
Paisius Velichkovsky (1722-1794)

The book is a “principal spiritual text” for all the Eastern Orthodox Churches; the publishers of the current English translation state that “The Philokalia has exercised an influence far greater than that of any book other than the Bible in the recent history of the Orthodox Church.””
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The current English translation, from the original Greek, began in 1979 with a collaboration between G. E. H. Palmer, Kallistos Ware, and Philip Sherrard. They released four of the five volumes of The Philokalia between 1979 and 1995: Faber and Faber, London. A listing of the texts included in the five volumes can be found in the article at
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A number of compilations from The Philokalia has also been published: for example, Allyne Smith (2006) “The Philokalia: The Eastern Christian Spiritual Texts—selections Annotated & Explained” (SkyLight Illuminations), Skylight Paths Publishing; and Cavarnos, Constantine (2007) “The Philokalia: Love of the Beautiful” Institute for Byzantine & Modern Greek Studies and Cavarnos, Constantine (2009) “The Philokalia: A Second Volume of Selected Readings (Selected Readings from the Philokalia, Volume 2)” Institute for Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies.

A Master Reference Guide, including a Master Index of Persons and Sources as well as the Master Index of Subjects and a CD of all four currently published volumes of The Philokalia in English can be located at

For more on The Philokalia, see:

For a video conversation with Metropolitan Kallistos on The Philokalia:

For studies of The Philokalia, see: Brock Bingaman and Bradley Nassif “The Philokalia: Text of Orthodox Spirituality” (Oxford, 2012); Anthony Coniaris “Philokalia: The Bible of Orhodox Spirituality” (Light & Life, 1998) and Christopher C. H. Cook “The Philokalia and the Innder Life: On Passions and Prayer” (Pickwick Publications, 2012).

A consideration of problems in translating the text into English is at


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