Do all Eastern priests have beards?

This is a serious question. I’m not joking, I heard it from some Orthodox Site. Is it true or false?

Not all.

Yes, I understand that this is indeed a serious question.

I too saw some recent posts on other forums with this same question, and it is entirely valid.

In summary, there is long-standing tradition in Eastern Orthodoxy in this regard. In fact, as I have seen published elsewhere, there is even a section of the written priestly vow which covers this point. I’m sure we have all seen pictures of the Eastern Orthodox hierarchs, past and present. Did you ever see a clean shaven one? This is not by accident. That said, I am not certain as to the basis or history of this tradition. I am told more detailed information on this custom can be found at: (I look forward to reading it)

BTW – there are always exceptions to the rule. There are some Orthodox clergy who have jobs in the secular world, and they are generally exempt from this requirement. In fact, I know rather well a priest who serves at a local Russian Orthodox monastery, who is a public school teacher by day. He does closely trim his beard and mustache, and occasionally appears clean shaven. Needless to say, while he doesn’t stand out among his fellow teachers, he does stand out among his brothers on the altar, particularly the monastics!

This is not true in Eastern Catholicism, although some priests and religious do voluntarily strive to attain that traditional “Orthodox look” (please, I do not mean to be at all disrespectful in saying this).

Perhaps Abp Philip (Saliba)?

In my Eastern Orthodox theology class someone asked the teacher about this (he was a priest and apparently hasn’t shaved since 1987), and he quoted Clement of Alexandria:

“How womanly it is for one who is a man to comb himself and shave himself with a razor, for the sake of fine effect, and to arrange his hair at the mirror, shave his cheeks, pluck hairs out of them, and smooth them!..For God wished women to be smooth and to rejoice in their locks alone growing spontaneously, as a horse in his mane. But He adorned man like the lions, with a beard, and endowed him as an attribute of manhood, with a hairy chest—a sign of strength and rule.” St. Clement of Alexandria, 2.275

Wonder what we are to make then of early icons of the patristic fathers…clean shaven?

To answer, not all Eastern Catholic and Eastern Orthodox priests have facial hair. Some can not grow facial hair. As said previously, some are exempt on the basis of having a secular job as well; also, some are exempt for health reasons.

I can not for sure say where this tradition started. My guess is that it was a carry over from Judaism, wherein men did not generally shave their beards. I would also guess that, amongst the clergy and hierarchy, it became popular to imitate the ascetics who lived in the desert, and who did not shave. Indeed, this would become the case especially when the bishopric began to be chosen exclusively from the monastics.

On another note, the idea is that the clergy are icons of Christ. If you look at most icons of Jesus, he is bearded. Thus, a clergy is bearded in imitation of Christ. Or, at least that is what I have heard.

Just looked up his official photo at

Looks like he has facial hair to me, but certainly not to the degree we see with other hierarchs, particularly Russian Orthodox.

Perhaps you may have seen him clean shaven at some point. As noted, there are exceptions for a variety of reasons, health among the possibilities. I do not know of him well enough to comment definitively in His Eminence’s case.

May God grant his high priest Metropolitan Philip many years!

Yes…he usually has a bit of a goatee. :slight_smile:

Eastern Catholics know there is a tradition but doesn’t adhere to it as strictly as Orthodox do. We even have some clean shaven bishops.

I think it depends on the Church. I think the Ruthenians have the most clean shaven priests and bishops.

Ukrainians, not too long ago, were pretty much clean shaven as well. But I think today many are going back to the tradition. At least have some trimmed beards. I still rarely see anyone have the huge beards the Orthodox clergy has.

Again…what do we make of ancient iconic images of the Holy Fathers as clean shaven Greeks?

I was loooking at the Antiochian site directory of parishes and notice that their are Eastern Rite Catholics, but thier are Western Rite Orthodox as well.

That was a surprise.

There is a debate amoung Orthodox about beards and also about the wearing of rassas (cassocks) at all times.

It seems to me that the ones who are the most particular about beards and rassas are the ultra conservatives, the old calendar Orthodox.

Do you have links? I have not seen beardless Icons unless they are depicted as very young or female saints.

Saint Nestor

Is he a clergyman?

Not all.

It depends on what their facial hair preferences are. Some have long beards,goatee,mustache, sideburns and some go to a barber for a proper beard trim.

Whatever style or preference you want is ok.

St Nestor the Martyr of Thessaloniki is often referred to as, “a young lad.”

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