NOTE: Though this story has nothing to do with Geronda Ephraim’s monasteries, it does involve a monk who was a “disciple” of Elder Joseph the Hesychast and who Geronda Ephraim has described in the past as a “spiritual brother”: Fr. Panteleimon Metropoulos. As well, one will notice a similarity in patterns of manipulation and brainwashing with some of the ex-monastic stories from Geronda Ephraim’s monasteries: In 1968, a year after an emotional breakdown, an emotionally unstable 23-year-old female convert goes to a convent in Greece for a “spiritual retreat” and she never leaves. A couple months later her father goes to Greece, visits the convent, sees his daughter in “dire mental condition, who refuses to leave out of fear of losing her soul.” Despite the cooperation of the Greek government, Greek Orthodox Church officials and the U.S. Embassy in Athens, the father was unable to get his daughter released from the Convent. The daughter is moved around to undisclosed locations, etc. Not much is heard of afterwards, but according to her father’s obituary in 2010, she was still alive and still a nun with the name Mother Evgeniki Myrtidiotissa. The following are some newspaper articles from 1968 about the incident:
Coach Claims Niece held Against Will (Eugene Register-Guard – Jan 13, 1968)
WASHINGTON (UPI)—The despairing efforts of a Seattle family to free their daughter from a convent on a remote Greek island were described Friday by Don Coryell, the girl’s uncle and head football coach at San Diego State College.
Coryell charged the girl, Christine H. Coryell, 23, had been “brainwashed” and coerced into staying in the I.M. Evangelismos Convent on the island of Oinoussas, Khios, Greece.
The California coach said his brother, George C. Coryell, was still in Greece trying to get his daughter released from the convent which she entered last August for a 10 to 15 day “spiritual retreat.”
Coryell said the girl needed medical treatment because of a history of emotional instability but her father had been unable to get her released despite the cooperation of the Greek government, Greek Orthodox church officials and the U.S. Embassy in Athens.
Coryell broke down and had trouble speaking at times as he described conditions reported at the convent during a news conference held in the office of Sen. Thomas H. Kuchel, R-Calif.
Coryell said the abbess was a Mrs. Patera, who was wealthy and apparently had great influence on the remote island a few miles from the coast of Turkey.
“You can’t have the girl,” Coryell quoted her as telling his brother. “The police are mine and the judges are my friends.”
Both Kuchel and Sen. Warren G. Magnoson, D-Wash., have taken an interest in the case, and Kuchel has asked Greek Orthodox Church officials in this country to look into the matter.
Miss Coryell termed the account given in Washington by her uncle Friday as “nonsense.”
Contacted from Athens by telephone, she said her uncle’s story was “completely inaccurate.”
“It has been entirely my own decision and I have made it without any coercion. It has been a free decision and I have no intention of changing it,” she said.
‘SPELL’ CHARGED: Seattleite Said Convent Captive
The Spokesman-Review – Jan 13, 1968
WASHINGTON (AP)—A 23-year-old Seattle woman has been held since August in a convent on a Greek island despite the efforts of her family to free her, her uncle reported Friday.
Don Coryell, football coach at San Diego State College, said Christine H. Coryell apparently has been brainwashed and is under the hypnotic spell of the convent abbess, a Mrs. Patera, identified as a member of a wealthy Greek shipping family.
Coryell said authorities of the Greek Orthodox Church, both in the United States and in Greece, have tried to help but claim to have no jurisdiction over the non-affiliated convent.
He said the women’s father, George C. Coryell, Seattle, has been in Greece nearly two months seeking Christine’s release. He said the father visited the convent and found his daughter in dire mental condition, afraid to leave the convent for fear of the loss of her soul.
The uncle related the story at a news conference in the office of Sen. Thomas H. Kuchel, R-Calif., after an appeal to Greek Orthodox Church authorities in New York.
Christine, he said, became converted to the Greek Orthodox faith while studying Russian as a language major at the University of Washington, where her mother is a counselor.
Through a Greek Orthodox priest in Seattle, he said, Christine became acquainted with a Boston monk, Father Panteleimon, and worked for him as a secretary for two months last spring at the Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Boston.
As a result of correspondence with Father Panteleimon during a trip through Europe last summer, Coryell said Christine decided to make a 10-to-15-day spiritual retreat at the convent in Oinoussa,, Chios, in August.
Coryell said her visit to the convent was prolonged to await a visit to the convent by the Boston monk.
The family became alarmed, Coryell said, by letters from acquaintances of Christine and reports from a girl who had been in the convent about the conditions there.
Coryell said the abbess had already once defied a court order obtained by his brother for Christine’s release, and had implied influence over local police.
Coryell said he had discussed the case with the State Department, which he said had offered suggestions but disclaimed power to exert pressure.
Reading Eagle – Jan 15, 1968, p. 2
The wealthy abbess of a Greek island convent accused of holding a 23-year-old Seattle girl prisoner has vowed never to let her return to the secular life. “I have in my hand a diamond of great value. In order for anyone to get that diamond, they have to cut off my arm,” she was quoted as saying. The abbess’ words were repeated by the Rev. Neketas S. Palassis, the Greek Orthodox priest who converted young Christine Coryell to the faith three years ago. He said he believed she had voluntarily become a nun in the convent at Oinoussa on the tiny island of Chios. Mrs. George Coryell, the girl’s mother, charged that Christine was being held “virtual prisoner” in the convent. She believed her daughter was “brainwashed and intimidated” with threats of Damnation.
Reading Eagle – Jan 28, 1968, p. 17
The widowed founder of a Greek island convent says her 23-year-old American convert, Christine Coryell, has retired to “an unknown place to meditate” but will meet with her father in Athens next Wednesday. Miss Coryell’s father George, of Seattle, Wash., said Thursday he had filed suit against Mrs. Katingo Pateras, the wealthy widow, complaining she unduly influenced Christine to enter the convent. The Seattle girl joined Mrs. Pateras’ “Evangelismos” convent last August during a visit to Greece. Her father has been in Athens since November trying to persuade his daughter to return home. Miss Coryell said earlier this month she had made her own decision of her own free will and would remain in the convent on the isle of Oinoussai “for the rest of my life.”
Coryell’s Niece Leaves Greek Convent
Daily Aster, Tuesday, January 30, 1968, pp. 1 & 2
Christine Coryell, 23-year-old niece of SDS football coach Don Coryell, has left the island convent where she has allegedly been held captive since last August.
Her father, George Coryell of Seattle, Wash., thinks she is still a captive, however.
He told Associated Press in Athens that his daughter left the “evangelismos” convent on Friday afternoon (Jan. 19) and left the island the next day.
Coryell, who has been on the island of Oinoussas, Chios Greece, for two months trying to get his daughter released, said it he saw Christine “fleetingly from a distance as she was boarding a ship in Chios under furtive circumstances in company of Mrs. Pateras and others of the convent.”
Mrs. Pateras is the 56 year-old heiress of a Greek shipping fortune (estimated at $220 million) who founded the convent.
Coryell said it was impossible to follow his daughter.
Miss Coryell, who converted to the Greek Orthodox Church three years ago, went to the convent for a short retreat after the death of a close friend from Cyprus.
Her father has been unable to obtain her release through the Greek Orthodox Church because it doesn’t recognize the convent.
Msgr. Chrysostomos, the metropolitan of Chios, told reporters in Athens that the convent is a “religious scandal.”
The State Department has also been unable to act because Miss Coryell had said she was staying at the convent of her own free will. The civil officials in Greece also couldn’t get Miss Coryell released for the same reason.
Coryell has filed a complaint against Mrs. Pateras with the district attorney of Chios Island charging that Mrs. Pateras “influenced Miss Coryell to remain in the convent.”
He said she was ordered to appear before the magistrate in Chios.
Court Rule on Girl
Coach Coryell said here that the magistrate ruled that Miss Coryell was being held “under the influence and control of Mrs. Pateras.”
He also said that the Greek government ordered his niece deported when her visa expired last Tuesday.
One Greek girl, Folo Bakatselou, 18, escaped after a four-month stay at the convent by stealing the keys.
Miss Bakatselou described how the mail addressed to the members of the convent was censored and of seeing the abbess tearing up Miss Coryell’s mail.
“We had to take two types of pills or medicine every day. When we asked the abbess what they were she laughed at us and gave no answer. Christine told me many times she wanted to leave but they talked and talked to her and broke her will and kept changing her mind,” said Miss Bakatselou.
She also said the girls had to kiss the mummified hand of Mrs. Pateras’ daughter, whose partially decomposed body was kept in a glass coffin.
Miss Coryell was apparently persuaded to visit the convent by two women she met in Boston through a Father Panteleimon, elder of the 10-man Holy Transfiguration Monastery there. Father Panteleimon recently called charges that Miss Coryell was being held against her will “preposterous” and asserted he never knew her or corresponded with her.
Miss Coryell’s doctor said her release was absolutely imperative because she had an emotional breakdown a year ago and could be easily influenced by mental “suggestion” and her “mental process subjected to control by other persons.”
UPI recently reported that Miss Coryell had said in a telephone interview that she was not being held against her will. Christine’s mother, commenting on the interview, said she wasn’t sure UPI had actually talked to Christine and that if they had Christine wasn’t really speaking her true feelings.
Mysterious Nun Faces Charges
Ellensburg Daily Record – May 14, 1968, p. 3
ATHENS (AP)—A young novitiate nun from America whose family claims she was held captive in a Greek island convent was reported today to be staying somewhere in Athens in the care of the convent’s abbess.
Her lawyer denied reports that the girl, Christine Coryell, 23, of Seattle, was under arrest.
She faces charges of insulting authority. Her trial, which was due to start Monday before a military tribunal, has been postponed because of a court ruling that she had not been summoned in time.
No new trial date has been fixed, her lawyer said.
The charges were filed after two gendarmes went to the monastery and told her she would have to leave Greece because her residence permit had expired last February. The police claimed Miss Coryell allegedly insulted them.
If convicted, she could get up to three years in prison.
Miss Coryell was one of 10 nuns in the convent of the Annunciation on the tiny islet of Oinoussai, off the Turkish coast.
Her family claimed she was being held in the convent against her will and under the influence of abbess, Mrs. Pateras, a 56-year-old member of a well known shipping family, founded the convent after her only daughter died.