Visitors’ Guide

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To our Respected Guests,

We welcome you with love in the Name of Christ to the Holy Monastery of St. Paisius, and we kindly ask that you observe the following requests by virtue of which we may offer hospitality.

All day visitors and those wishing to come to the bookstore are requested to contact us in advance to arrange a visit.

Proper Attire

The Holy Monastery of St. Paisius is a place of repentance and prayer for the sisters and also for the faithful who are our pious guests. In honor of the saint whose monastery this is, and out of love and respect for this sacred ground, we humbly ask that you be properly attired at all times.

Orthodox clergy are respectfully asked to wear a cassock (rason) in the monastery; and to wear also an outer cassock (exorason) in the church services. Clergy are asked to wear a clerical head covering at the appropriate times.

Women are kindly asked to wear long-sleeved, loose-fitting shirts that fully cover the chest up to the neck; long skirts (or dresses) without deep slits; scarves that cover the head and wrap under the chin and around the neck, so that the neck is also covered. Please refrain from wearing lipstick when venerating icons and receiving Holy Communion. Please remove any visible face or body piercing jewelry.

Men are kindly asked to wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts. Please, no baseball caps or clothing with inappropriate words or images. Inside, especially in church, men are asked to keep their heads uncovered. Please remove any visible face or body piercing jewelry.

For both men and women, socks (at least ankle high) with shoes or sandals are to be worn at all times. Note that our paths are gravel, so please wear appropriate shoes.

If it happens that you are not properly attired, please ask one of the sisters to assist you in borrowing something appropriate from our limited supply of guest clothing.

We humbly also ask our guests to refrain from wearing perfumes, colognes, scented lotions, etc., for the sake of those who have strong chemical sensitivities and get very ill from even these types of scents.


The bookstore and guest reception room are open throughout most of the day. (Hours are posted on the bookstore door.) During those times a sister is present to assist with purchases as well as with any other general questions you may have.

For the convenience especially of those staying several days in the monastery, baskets are available in the bookstore which can be used to collect the items you would like to purchase. Please finalize your purchases during normal times of operation. We accept all major credit cards.

Church Services

Guests of the monastery are respectfully asked to attend all church services, and to stand in the following locations:
For clergy, we welcome you to use the stasidia (stalls) located just outside the iconostasis, on the north end.
All other guests are asked to stand in the main area (nave) of the church; men on the right and women on the left. Please note that the choir areas to the right and left of the main dome are reserved for the monastics. Catechumens are to remain in the narthex during the service; i.e., the area west of the large archway. Catechumens should not partake of antidoron or Holy Water (or of the blessed “Panagia” loaf which is distributed during the trapeza meal on Sundays and feasts).

We ask that when you take Gerondissa’s blessing, you simply bow and kiss her hand; please do not cross yourself before her.
Parents are responsible for keeping their children from roaming freely in the church and from disrupting the prayerful atmosphere of the service. If it is difficult for your child to be quiet during the service, we ask that you remain with your child in one of the side chapels for the sake of those who have come to the monastery for quiet prayer. If you wish to take your child outside, the child must be accompanied at all times as there are snakes and other dangers in the desert. The safety of children resides with the parents. 

Cell phones must be turned off during services and also during trapeza meals. At times when there is no service being conducted, you may approach the icons anywhere in church (even if you are not Orthodox), so long as you remain outside the sanctuary area reserved for priests; i.e., outside the iconostasis.

Divine Liturgy and Holy Communion

During the Liturgy, the veneration of icons occurs during the Prayers before Holy Communion. (Please make sure your lips are free of all substances such as lip balm.) When the holy Chalice is brought forth from the sanctuary for Holy Communion, the veneration of icons should stop as the Lord is present in front of you in His Precious Body and Blood.

Only baptized Orthodox Christians—prepared through the Sacrament of Confession (or with the blessing of their spiritual father) and having fasted according to the guidelines established by the Holy Fathers of the Church—may approach the Chalice to receive Holy Communion. Holy Communion is truly the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ; and just as it sanctifies and becomes provision for eternal life for those who are prepared, it may very well become “fire burning the unworthy” for those who are not.

When receiving Holy Communion: please keep your arms crossed over your chest, and open your mouth wide to allow the priest to place the communion spoon into your mouth. Close your mouth over the spoon slowly without moving your head and allow the priest to remove it from your mouth, insuring the spoon is completely clean, and gently wipe your mouth with the communion cloth. Please do not cross yourself while standing before the chalice, and neither kiss nor touch the chalice. 

Also, please take antidoron directly after receiving Holy Communion and not after the dismissal. After the dismissal, only those who did not partake of Holy Communion should come forward to receive antidoron from the priest.

Regarding infants receiving Holy Communion, please hold the infant on your right side to enable the priest in administering the Gifts. Regarding both infants and small children who are being held when receiving Holy Communion, please secure their hands so that they are not able to grasp or pull on the communion cloth.

Meals in Trapeza

We kindly ask that you be present in the trapeza (the dining hall) for all scheduled meals. During common meals (excepting the breakfast meal), a reading for our spiritual nourishment takes place, and we ask that you maintain silence. Before drinking any water at the meal, the monastic custom is to wait until the Abbess rings a bell for the blessing (approximately five minutes after the meal has begun). The meal lasts approximately 20 minutes. Even if you have not finished eating, please join the procession exiting the trapeza, after which you may ask to return to the trapeza to finish eating.

We kindly ask that you follow the order of procession when going from the church to the trapeza, which is as follows: first, the Abbess and sisterhood, then visiting clergy, then the faithful. The same order of procession is used for returning to the church after the meal.

Fasting food is served on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and on days preceding one of the twelve great feasts in preparation for receiving Holy Communion. On Saturdays (excluding times during the Church fasts), dairy will be served to guests as an optional item, enabling those who wish to receive Holy Communion on Sundays to refrain.

Monastery Animals

The monastery has several guard dogs, all of which are trained guard dogs. As we hope our guests will understand, in order for the dogs to serve us all as protectors, it is important that visitors not seek to befriend them. It is equally important that visitors not feed them. We appreciate your understanding in this regard. As difficult as it may be not to stop and try to secure their attention, we ask that you simply ignore them.

We invite you to walk out to the garden and livestock areas but we ask that you not open any gates or feed any of the farm animals or feral cats.

Monastery Grounds

We kindly ask that you respect the quiet of the monastery while on the grounds. We ask that you not walk near the monastic residential building unless accompanied by a Sister.

Please use caution when walking about the monastery, especially during the warmer months, as we definitely have deadly rattle snakes on the property, beginning as early as February. Children are to remain under parental supervision at all times, especially outdoors. Even young children must wear shoes at all times, keeping in mind that scorpions make their way even indoors. To keep out all venomous creatures, please make a special effort to insure that all doors are fully closed, including the entrance door to the catholicon.

Photographs may be taken of the buildings, the grounds and inside the church; however, photographs (including videos) are not allowed during the services without a specific blessing from the Abbess. We generally request that you refrain from taking photographs showing the faces of the nuns.

Smoking anywhere within the monastery is forbidden.


For Overnight Guests

Please also read the information provided above.

Making Initial Arrangements and Arrival

All guests requesting to stay overnight in the monastery are asked to make prior arrangements. We also ask that you arrive in plenty of time for us to show you where you will be staying. By 5 pm (in winter) or 6 pm (in summer) the monastery gates and main house are locked for the night, due to the sisters’ daily program of arising not long after midnight. We greatly appreciate your cooperation in arriving beforehand, preferably before Vespers.
Upon arrival to the monastery, please stop at the call box, located on the stone pedestal near the main entrance and follow the instructions posted there. After driving through the gate, follow the signs to the Visitor Parking area where you may park your vehicle. Then, walking along the main pathway heading in the direction of the catholicon, you will see a sign pointing to the path leading to the bookstore (which is now in the main house, the furthest door to the left). Please come to the bookstore and a Sister will receive you there. If your arrival coincides with a time when a service is likely to be in process, please come to the catholicon instead and a Sister will meet you after the service is over. If any of this is unclear and you have a cell phone, you can call us and we will direct you from wherever you are.

Guest Quarters

Overnight guests are welcome to partake of any food provided by the monastery in the guest quarters. For those not accustomed to our arid climate, we urge you to drink plenty of water throughout the day to avoid dehydration. Symptoms of nausea and headache usually are relieved by drinking a sufficient amount of water.
During your stay, we ask that you kindly not place personal items on unoccupied beds so as to keep them available for others who might be arriving. Concerning the use of the air conditioner and the heater we humbly—but very seriously—ask that you join our efforts in conserving electricity wherever possible.

Flashlights are available in the guest quarters; we strongly urge you to use one if you are walking outdoors after dark. (For your convenience, there is a basket just inside the entrance to the catholicon for storing your flashlight during the church service.)
When taking walks, we ask that you stay on the defined roads; and for lengthy walks it is best to leave a note on your door, indicating which direction you are heading.

Arranging to speak with the Abbess

If you wish to speak with Gerondissa for spiritual counsel during your stay, please let the guest mistress know soon after your arrival and she will assist in arranging this.


After the third day in the monastery (or earlier, if you wish) we kindly ask that you begin helping with general monastery work. Please come to the bookstore and let one of the sisters know that you are there to work.

Please let us know if there is any way we can be of help.
We ask your forgiveness in advance for our shortcomings.
May your stay here in the monastery be filled with the Lord’s blessings!