When Blind Obedience Leads to Homicide: Mother Mariam Soulakiotou, Abbess of Peukovounogiatrissa Monastery (d. 1954)

The “Keratea Scandal”
The “Keratea scandal” erupted in the 1950s.  At an old calendar monastery in Keratea (Πευκοβουνογιάτρισσας = Pine Mountain Physician), it was revealed that Abbess Mary Soulakiotou and the nuns kept affluent old women and underage girls and submitted them to grueling fasts and physical torture. The principles of the charges were ‘unlawful restraint and fraud.’

Mother Mariam Soulakiotou Abbess of Peukovounogiatrissa Monastery in Keratea, Who Killed 150 Girls to “Send Them to Paradise”
Mother Mariam Soulakiotou Abbess of Peukovounogiatrissa Monastery in Keratea, Who Killed 150 Girls to “Send Them to Paradise”

On the night of December 4th, 1950, eighty-five men led by officers of the gendarmerie, the responsible deputy prosecutor, magistrate and coroner surrounded and invaded the monastery at 6am and investigated.
They found 36 boys and girls stunted, pale, with fears and religious delusions. At midday, they placed the children in cars and transported them to the Children’s Station in Lavrion. The gathering up and embarkation occurred with the sharp resistance of nuns and children, weeping, curses, and knell sounds were heard for hours after removal of the children.
The Abbess Mariam and some very active nuns and monks transferred to prison.

The death of Mariam in 1954. Today, the Matthewites consider her "a saint who was slandered and paid for something she did not do."
The death of Mariam in 1954. Today, the Matthewites consider her “a saint who was slandered and paid for something she did not do.”

THE TRIAL
The trial of Mariam Soulakiotou, the nuns and monks who were arrested, and the Old Calednarist Bishop K Alexandropouolou started at the beginning of 1953. The Chairman was appellate Tousis, the prosecutor Kostopoulos.
Forty-one witnesses went to denounce the gruesome details of the life in the monastery Keratea. At one point, the prosecutor interrupted a witness and said: “Keratea is a disgrace for Greece. The hairs of my head are standing up. Just think, 150 girls with tuberculosis died there.”
The witness Seraphim Silvestros testified that his consumptive sister and brother-in-law died in the monastery, and their three children suffered various abuses. The little boy was hung upside down naked many times and beaten to unconsciousness. When his father was alive, the nuns urged him to infect his child with tuberculosis, because he would become a bad man if he lived. They advised him to chew on his food and then feed it to his little boy, so that ‘he dies before him.’ This child had tuberculosis and during was at the sanatorium of Tripoli during the trial. The monastery appropriated the property of three orphans (65 acres and a house). The witness said, “They told us that we must die to empty cells so that others can come, in order for us to go to Paradise.

The trial lasted twelve days with such narratives.

The monastic community.
The monastic community.

Taken from: ΑΠΟ ΤΟΝ ΕΜΦΥΛΙΟ ΣΤΗΝ ΧΟΥΝΤΑ του Σ Λιναρδάτου τόμοι Α και Β εκδόσεις ΒΗΜΑ-Βιβλιοθήκη
Mariam was imposed for ten years to prison for extortion, embezzlement, fraud and other offenses. Her partners received smaller penalties.
Many people, influenced by the numerous “calumnies” and lies sought the complete dissolution of the monastery. They continuously met, and talked about they would convert the monastery to once they had it in their hands.
Once they decided to change it into playgrounds, another time a hospital and another time into barracks. The latter was particularly insisted particularly by senior military who arbitrarily entered the Convent and measured counted the size of some cells and decided to install a leprosarium in the monastery buildings. But after this spread, residents of Keratea rose up, resentful of their decision, and persistently required this not be done.

Children in the monastery from the scandal of Keratea.
Children in the monastery from the scandal of Keratea.

NOTE: The Peukovounogiatrissa Monastery, founded in 1927 in Keratea (near Attica) was under the Matthewite faction of the Old Calendarist schismatics. St. Joseph the Hesychast was with the Matthewite faction (http://apantaortodoxias.blogspot.ca/2012/07/two-holy-fathers-on-calendar-issue.html) until 1945 when he returned to the schismatic Florinite faction. In the 1950’s, after a vision, he went back with the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
During the 40s, Bishop Matthew suffered a stroke in which half of his body, the whole right side, was paralyzed. In normal circumstances, such a bishop would be obligated to retire since he can no longer serve the Divine Services in the image of Christ. By 1948, he was by himself, without any other bishops. The likelihood of Matthew’s movement disintegrating became very great; therefore, in August of that year, Matthew was ‘authorized’ by his church assembly, lead by the protosyngellos Fr. Evgenios Tombros and the Abbess of the convent in which he lived in Keratea, the nun Mariam, to consecrate bishops (uncanonically) by himself to continue their schism. To justify themselves in this action, they claimed that they were under persecution and that Matthew was the only canonical bishop left in the world.

In 1938/39, two of Elder Joseph's nuns (Euphrosyne and Fevronia) went to the Monastery of Panagia Pefkovounogiatrissis in Keratea. They were originally in Gerondissa Efpraxia's Monastery.
In 1938/39, two of Elder Joseph’s nuns (Euphrosyne and Fevronia) went to the Monastery of Panagia Pefkovounogiatrissis in Keratea. They were originally in Gerondissa Efpraxia’s Monastery.

At any rate, many people came to realize the impasse lurking in Old Calendarism, in 1950 and 1951 with the revelation of scandals such as the torturing of children, the misappropriation of properties and financial scandals in the monastery of Keratea, Attica, and the sentencing of the self-styled “abbess” Mariam to life imprisonment. Furthermore, as the expresser of obscurantist and extremist views on the Orthodox Faith, old calendarism began to lose followers with the rise in the standards of education and living of the Greek people, and the general recession in illiteracy during the 50s – 60s and 70s decades. Until that time, it had remained stationary.

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