Press Hunt for Girl Feared Held in a Greek Monastery (Milwaukee Journal, 1951)

NOTE: The following article about Simela Spyrides is taken from the Milwaukee Journal, January 5, 1951:

Milwaukee Journal January 5, 1951 (Simela Spyrides)

Athens, Greece (A/P)—Authorities hunted Friday night for a young raven haired American woman whose father charges she was lured from her Toledo (Ohio) home to imprisonment in a Greek monastery by a nun of the Julian Calendar sect. The search followed an appeal to court officials in Athens from Christo Spyrides of Toledo for the return of his missing 22 year old daughter, Simela. He charged that, against his will, Simela was enticed from her home to a Greek monastery in 1949 by a nun identified as Maria Zaphriopoulos. The nun was said to have been in the United States at the time on a mission to collect a $10,000 estate left an inmate of the Karatea monastery.

Spyrides said he was married in 1926 in Greece but that he and his wife parted and he returned to Toledo in 1927. He said he was “fairly certain” that his former wife was a member of the monastery, but that he had no way of knowing whether his daughter had joined.

Police say they suspect she is hidden in some monastery.

Currently in jail here on charges of abduction, unlawful detention and fraud are Mother Superior Miriam Soulakiotis and 10 nuns and monks of the monastery, located on the Aegean sea coast east of Athens. Police were reported seeking five “bogus bishops.”

Court officials asserted that scores of men and women who entered the Karatea monastery had been defrauded of their estates. Their properties were reported turned over to the mother superior.

Toledo Blade January 6, 1951 p. 1 (Simela Spyrides)

NOTE: The following article is taken from the Toledo Blade, January 6th, 1951, pp. 1 & 3:

Daughter ‘All Right,’ Not Prisoner In Greek Monastery, Father Decides

Toledoan’s Offer To Pay Girl’s Fare Back To U.S. Stands

A Toledo father today reversed his earlier contention that his daughter is an unwilling prisoner in a Greek monastery, asserting that she is “probably all right.”

Christ Spyrides, 58, of 1511 Woodville St., pointed out his 22-year-old daughter, previously reported by the father as being imprisoned, is an American citizen, and could, if she wanted, return to Toledo. His offer to pay her expenses for the return trip is still good, he added.

However, since the daughter, Simela, asked for return plane fare, Mr. Spyrides said he wrote her last Saturday asking her to return by boat because of the money difference involved.

First reports of the abduction were made by the press wire services from Athens. They reported Mr. Spyrides had contacted officials there to help find his daughter who he believed had been “tricked” into returning to Greece.

Mr. Spyrides said today he had written to the authorities but gave no reason other than he “wanted his daughter to return.” Prosecutor George Velouzos in Athens confirmed that he had received the appeal and that Athens police were trying to find the girl.

A dispatch from the United Press reported the raven-haired girl “eluded a police hunt today by skipping from one mountain convent to another.”

In halting English, Mr. Spyrides, aided by a neighbor, Tom Tokles, 1506 Woodville St., acting as an interpreter, told a reporter for The Blade the following story:

Mr. Spyrides, who came to this country in 1913, returned to Greece in 1926 and was married. The following year, Simela was born in Corinson, Greece, and he returned alone to the United States. His wife and child followed in 1932, but remained only a few months. That year, Mr. Spyrides and his wife were divorced.

The return of his wife and daughter 14 years later, in 1946, was “unexpected,” Mr. Spyrides said. He said he first knew they were in the country when he received a wire from them saying they needed money to make the trip from New York to Toledo.

 Probable Reason For Visit

He assumed they decided to visit the United States because war had left Greece poverty-stricken, and were taking advantage of a United States ruling that dependents of American citizens could enter the country.

In January, last year, Mrs. Spyrides was sent back by immigration authorities, he said.

Mr. Spyrides would not comment when asked why his daughter did not then return with her mother. In the meantime, Simela had been a student in East Side Central School.

Sometime between January and March, 1950, “some nuns who wanted money” visited the Spyrides home, Mr. Spyrides said. He asserted they had obtained his name from some church “in Detroit.”

Girl And Nuns Friendly

Believing they were asking funds for legitimate charities in Greece, Mr. Spyrides said he had permitted them to remain several days in his home. At that time, Simela and the nuns were “very friendly,” he added.

The Associated Press reported the nuns were believed to be of the Julian Calendar Sect, affiliated with the Karatea monastery. They have been jailed on charges of abduction, unlawful detention, and fraud, the wire service said. The monastery is on the Aegean Sea coast, east of Athens.

Mr. Spyrides said that in March, 1950, the girl, having learned her mother was ill, decided to return to Greece with the nuns.

Paid Fare To Greece

“I paid her fare; what are you going to do?” Mr. Spyrides said.

Since that time he has had several letters from her, although she was vague about expressing any desire to come back, he added.

He wrote his brother to check up on her whereabouts in Athens, but the latter could not afford to make the trip from his home, the father said.

Why Mr. Spyrides contacted consular authorities in Athens is not clear. He commented only that he wanted to know whether she was coming home.

Doubt Girl Wants To Leave

The United Press said that police believe the girl does not want to leave the sect. The dispatch said further that police were acting under a Greek law which says that a father, as “male protector,” has legal rights over his unmarried daughters regardless of age.

About a week ago, Mr. Spyrides said, he received a cablegram from his daughter, in which she said, “Daddy, please send me money for plane fare home.”

The father said that in his letter reply to her on Saturday, he told her that it would be cheaper for her to come by boat.

He said flatly today that he was waiting for her reply.

“If she doesn’t want to come back, it’s all right,” he said. “There’s no mystery. She’s probably all right.”

Mr. Spyrides has been employed 23 years in the East Broadway plant of the Libbey-Owens-Ford Glass Co.

 

Elder Joseph the Hesychast, Elder Ephraim of Arizona and the Old Calendarist Schismatics (Matthewites and Florinites)

Geronda Ephraim has a lot of experience with the Old Calendar issue. He was born a few years after the Church of Greece changed the calendar. His birthplace, Volos, would prove to be a stronghold for those sympathetic with the Julian calendar over the Gregorian in ecclesiastical use. His baptism would’ve occurred before the1937 schism, when the Old Calendarist faction were still members of the Church of Greece.
After the 1935 schism, Geronda Ephraim’s family joined the old calendar schismatic faction that broke off from the church.

On 13/26 May, 1935, three bishops from the State Church of Greece, Metropolitans Germanos of Demetrias, Chrysostom of Florina, and Chrysostom of Zakynthos, severed communion with the New Calendar hierarchy and took up the leadership of the Old-Calendarists Schismatics.

Elder Joseph the Hesychast, who arrived on Mount Athos before the calendar change, also went with the schismatic faction that broke off from the church. After 1937, when Bishop Matthew created his own schism from the Old Calendarist schism, the schismatic factions were divided into two—The Matthewites and the Florinites.
Elder Joseph knew Bishop Matthew personally, as he was originally an ascetic on Mount Athos. Elder Joseph left the church and joined the schismatic Matthewite faction.1

“Bishop” Matthew of Bresthena. After his death, Mother Mariam Soulakiotou sprinkled his body with perfume and declared him a myrrh-streamer. To this day, he is heralded as a saint and confessor by the Matthewites.

Elder Joseph was very active with the old calendar schismatics. He founded a convent of nuns, made up mostly of refugees, in Macedonia. He stayed over a month at the newly-founded Convent of St. Irene Chrysovolantou in Athens and established their typicon according to the Athonite usages for coenobia. The convent, which is now world-renowned, was founded by Mother Meletia at the beginning of the thirties outside of Athens. Father Joseph, therefore, showed great zeal in admonishing the faithful, by word and deed, to “stand fast and keep the traditions” of the Church, even as we have received them, withstanding every and all innovation. During this period, prior to the Second World War, the best fathers of the Holy Mountain were zealots. Many illustrious fathers left the monasteries because of the commemoration and joined the zealots. 2

During the 1930s, Elder Joseph was actively helping Gerondissa Eupraxia. She and some of her spiritual sisters were building a monastery. Unfortunately there was a rivalry between them, quarrels, etc. Every now and again, Elder Joseph would come down from Mount Athos and help. These trips upset and wounded Elder Arsenios the Cave-Dweller because he didn’t like leaving the Holy Mountain; however, they had an obedience to stick together and there was no blessing to be separated for more than a 24 hour period.

Elder Arsenios with Elder Joseph the Hesychast.
Elder Arsenios with Elder Joseph the Hesychast.

The building of the monastery occurred after Elder Joseph’s 8 year temptation period with the demon of lust; when he was completely passionless, like a child.The parish priests, however, accused the Elder, especially about ethical issues, and made trial of him, in which the Elder was not presented. In the meantime, the laypeople out of simplicity made excesses; e.g. when they saw him they said “Christos, Christos!” inasmuch as he had blue-gray eyes and a blond goatee, etc.3

Elder Joseph the Hesychast and Gerondissa Efpraxia.
Elder Joseph the Hesychast and Gerondissa Efpraxia.

In 1938, when the Elder realized there was no benefit, he did not return to the Monastery. The sisters, one because the Elder didn’t come, another because the parish priests hunted her, were dissolved. But all of them firmly held the Monastic tradition. Many of them became sanctified. Two went to the Monastery of Panagia Pefkovounogiatrissis in Keratea (Euphrosyne, Fevronia), another was KlaioMaria of Perissa. The Abbess Efpraxia went to Thessaloniki and lived very poorly in a closet with dirt on the floor (near the Prophet Elijah), along with her mother, in the court of her brother’s house. When he saw that she was strong in the prayer , Geronda Joseph, instructed her to close herself in the closet and gave her a hesychast typikon to be occupied only on the prayer, not to exit, and to have no friends. She obeyed.

In 1938, two of Elder Joseph's spiritual children went (Nuns Euphrosyne and Fevronia) went to Peukovounogiatrissa Monastery. In the 30's and 40s there was much child abuse, brainwashing, horrible tortures, terrible secrets, fear, and death at this monastery.
In 1938, two of Elder Joseph’s spiritual children (Nuns Euphrosyne and Fevronia) went to Peukovounogiatrissa Monastery. In the 30’s and 40s there was much child abuse, brainwashing, horrible tortures, terrible secrets, fear, and death at this monastery.

At the end of the 40s, Bishop Matthew, seeing that his end was drawing nigh and that no other bishop was with him, proceeded against the canons and ordained numerous bishops by himself, which then declared themselves a Synod and elected him Archbishop. This was the second blow to the zealots of Athos. Many at the time abandoned Bishop Matthew, observing that they could not be consistent in condemning the calendar change as uncanonical and then accept the uncanonical ordinations of bishops by one bishop.
In 1945, Elder Joseph and Elder Ephraim of Katounakia joined the Florinites which was still a schismatic faction outside the church.5

Elder Ephraim of Katounakia with Elder Ephraim of Arizona.
Elder Ephraim of Katounakia with Elder Ephraim of Arizona.

When Geronda Ephraim of Arizona joined Elder Joseph’s synodia in 1947, they were still members of schismatic old calendarist factions. Some of the letters in Monastic Wisdom, were written to nuns in schismatic Old Calendarist convents. There are also letters preserved which are not found in Monastic Wisdom.6

Elder Joseph’s synodia left the zealots and returned to the Orthodox Church sometime in the 50’s after both Elder Joseph and Elder Ephraim of Katounakia received visions that the living church was in Constantinople. Thus, Elder Ephraim of Arizona’s orthodox upbringing and his initial years of monasticism were rooted in old calendarist zealotry. Later, after the synodia of Elder Joseph joined the Orthodox Church, he also had the experience of the New Calendar side of things.7

In the 1950’s, Elder Joseph’s synodia had no priests, and two members—Fathers Haralampos and Ephraim—were ordained by Bishop Ierotheos, who was living as a hermit in the Skete of Saint Anne’s and was thus with the traditional Church Calendar, but a commemorator nevertheless. Although Father Joseph left the zealots, yet he never celebrated any feasts with the Papal Calendar. This was not difficult, for from 1939 he never left the Holy Mountain, nor did he allow any one of his synodia to go outside the Holy Mountain.

It is said in the biography of Elder Ephraim of Katounakia: “When, at the suggestion of Elder Joseph, they left the zealots and returned to communion with the rest of the Athonite fathers, they truly came to know the power of Grace in the Mysteries they celebrated…For the entire time he was with the zealots, he [Fr. Ephraim of Katounakia] saw something like a veil in front of him, hindering him from seeing this Divine Grace distinctly. The veil was lifted when he returned to the living church.”8

For the entire time he was with the zealots [15+ years], Fr. Ephraim of Katounakia saw something like a veil in front of him, hindering him from seeing this Divine Grace distinctly. The veil was lifted when he returned to the living church.
For the entire time he was with the zealots [15+ years], Fr. Ephraim of Katounakia saw something like a veil in front of him, hindering him from seeing this Divine Grace distinctly. The veil was lifted when he returned to the living church.
Elder Joseph was with the Old Calendarist zealots for  15+ years. Elder Ephraim of Katounakia had a veil hindering him from seeing divine grace distinctly for this 15 year period. One wonders if Elder Ephraim of Arizona has personal stories about the differences he perceived in Grace and spiritual experiences in Pappou’s synodeia (i.e comparisons of the initial years outside of the church and the later years after they joined the church).

There is not any information if they were properly received back into the church or if they just started commemorating the Patriarch again. The old/new calendar issue has been quite a grey area for the church. As the Church generally does not (or cannot) recognize any sacraments, including Baptism, administered in a schism, there have been varying ways that old calendarists have been received into the Orthodox Church. I.e. Bishops Paisios and Vikentios were reordained when they joined communion with the official church.9

Fr. Epifanios Theodoropoulos, the number one canonologist in Greece when he was alive, made some very strong ecclesiastical positions against the calendar schismatics, going one step further to call them heretics and blasphemers of the Holy Spirit since they denied the existence of grace in the New Calendar Church.10 Metropolitan Athansios of Lemesou, Elder Cleopa of Romania, as well as many of the Athonite Fathers hold the same views: “The Old Calendarists are outside the church, their sacraments are invalid, and they blaspheme the Holy Spirit by denying the existence of grace in the New Calendar Church.”

Archimandrite Panteleimon Metropoulos and Elder Ephraim of Arizona

Archimandrite Panteleimon (Metropoulos) has always claimed to have been a disciple of Elder Joseph the Hesychast. He also says Elder Joseph gave him  a blessing to come to America to build a monastery. Some of Geronda Ephraim’s monks dispute this claim saying Elder Joseph told him, “No!” Apparently, he foresaw the scandals that Fr. Panteleimon would cause, as well as how that would impact Geronda Ephraim later. It is said that some of the letters in Monastic Wisdom are addressed to Fr. Panteleimon.

Archimandrite Panteleimon (Metropoulos). http://www.pokrov.org/persons/archimandrite-panteleimon-metropoulos/
Archimandrite Panteleimon (Metropoulos). http://www.pokrov.org/persons/archimandrite-panteleimon-metropoulos/

So, Fr. Panteleimon came to America in the 60s under the New Calendar Greek Orthodox Archdiocese (then headed by Archbishop Iakovos). In the 1960’s, in protest of the excessive ecumenical activities of Patriarch Athenagoras I (Spyrou) of Constantinople and Archbishop Iakovos (Coucouzis) of America, he joined ROCOR.

Following the suspension of the abbot and founder of Holy Transfiguration Monastery, Archimandrite Panteleimon (Metropoulos), by the ROCOR in December, 1986, for multiple accusations of sexual immorality, the monastery and its supporting communities left the ROCOR and following a brief period under two independent Old Calendarist bishops in Greece, were received by the Old Calendarist Synod of Archbishop Auxentios of Athens. HOCNA is not in communion with any mainstream Orthodox church.11

Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Brookline, MA claims Elder Joseph the Hesychast as their lineage.
Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Brookline, MA claims Elder Joseph the Hesychast as their lineage.

Anyways, Geronda Ephraim went to visit Fr. Panteleimon at some point after all this fiasco, and talks about this meeting on in a homily On the Old Calendarists:

“…Father Panteleimon who is in Boston, America; he is like my brother… When I asked him then “Father, are you with the Old Calendarists?” He told me “No, neither with the old calendarists nor the New Calendarists”. Anyway, he has his own line firm and says that there is no salvation, except only on his own side, and he neither communes and nor confesses to people of the new calendar. This, of course, happened before me and no one can tell me that I am wrong. When I went to Boston and went to his monastery, it happened in front of me and I know these things. Of course, we are spiritual brothers and we have love etc. But we utterly disagree in these respects. My Elder told him, amongst other things, that, as you believe him to be a saint and you have his holy relics and you do miracles with the relics of the Elder, but our Elder has died in the Church. We were ordained by the Bishop, who was in the Church and even then, when we were ordained, we commemorated the Ecumenical Patriarch—then it was Athengoras—and he was sanctified in the Church. How now can we say that this Church, which sanctified the Elder, is heretical? It is awesome!”12

In a homily, Elder Ephraim of Arizona states:
In a homily, Elder Ephraim of Arizona states: “Father Panteleimon who is in Boston, America; he is like my brother…Of course, we are spiritual brothers and we have love etc. But we utterly disagree in these respects.”

NOTES

1. Two Holy Fathers on the Calendar Issue: Elder Ephraim of Katounakia and Elder Joseph the Hesychast http://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/2010/02/two-holy-fathers-on-calendar-issue.html

Bishop Matthew joined the early Greek Old-Calendarists as an archimandrite, was consecrated a vicar-bishop by the three original leaders of the Old-Calendarists (Metropolitan’s Chrysostom, Chrysostom, and Germanos) in 1935, but then broke away in schism from them in 1937 when he failed to persuade them to treat the New-Calendarist hierarchy of that time was outside the Church and graceless on account of the new-menaion innovation.  He has been “glorified” as a saint in the GOC as “Saint Matthew the New” and is considered a “confessor” and “miracle-worker.” They claim he “streams myrrh” to this day…

2. Letter Regarding the Guidance of the Elder Joseph regarding the Calendar Issue http://nektarios.home.comcast.net/~nektarios/1511.html

3. Some traditions state that Jesus Christ had blond hair and blue eyes.

4. Nun Efpraxia, Subordinate of Elder Joseph the Hesychast http://www.vatopedi.gr/2012/11/%CE%BC%CE%BF%CE%BD%CE%B1%CF%87%CE%AE-%CE%B5%CF%85%CF%80%CF%81%CE%B1%CE%BE%CE%AF%CE%B1-%CF%85%CF%80%CE%BF%CF%84%CE%B1%CE%BA%CF%84%CE%B9%CE%BA%CE%AE-%CF%84%CE%BF%CF%85-%CE%B3%CE%AD%CF%81%CE%BF%CE%BD/

5. A July 2, 1945 Letter of St. Joseph the Hesychast explaining why he returned to the Florinites: http://www.hsir.org/Theology_en/E3e4024EipeGeronAK323.pdf

6. 1947 Letter to a nun in the Old Calendarist Convent in Attika http://www.hsir.org/Theology_en/E3e4005AK309.pdf

7. My Elder Joseph the Hesychast, pp. 164-165- http://classicalchristianity.com/2014/08/21/on-matthewite-ecclesiology/ [The comments in this link effectively debunk Matthewite Ecclesiology, revealing its errors].

8. Two Holy Fathers on the Calendar Issue Elder Ephraim of Katounakia and Elder Joseph http://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/2010/02/two-holy-fathers-on-calendar-issue.html

9. http://www.nytimes.com/1998/05/04/nyregion/one-calendar-or-another-greek-orthodox-heal-rift.html

For more information about how schismatics are received back into the Orthodox Church, see Canon 1 of St. Basil the Great (http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/3202188.htm), Fr. George Metallinos’ I Confess One Baptism (http://www.oodegr.co/english/biblia/baptisma1/perieh.htm),  and St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite’s The Rudder (https://web.archive.org/web/20131105100901/http://orthodoxbahamas.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/THE_RUDDER_Copyright__Ralph_J._Masterjohn_2006.pdf )

10. Ecumenism and Schismatic Old Calendarism http://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/2010/02/ecumenism-and-schismatic-old.html

11. http://orthodoxwiki.org/Holy_Orthodox_Church_in_North_America

12. Geronda Ephraim of Arizona, Concerning the Old and New Calendar:

Audio: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SHgtM4KizXM

Text: http://www.impantokratoros.gr/7DAC5285.el.aspx

The Monastery of the Dead (Excerpts from the newspaper “Freedom” (Ελευθερία), 1950s)

Child abuse, brainwashing, horrible tortures, terrible secrets, fear, and death … And all this with a religious fanaticism that brings to mind the works and days of the Holy Inquisition. If you’re wondering when and where this happened, the answer is shocking: In the year 1950, just a few kilometers outside of Athens, in the region of Keratea , at the Old Calendarist Pefkovounogiatrissas Monastery. The «Espresso» met the nuns who today serve the Lord in the same monastery where the Middle Ages were once revived. The nuns insist that all these things were a misunderstanding. Indeed, “they christen” the torturers of children saints!

The Pefkovounogiatrissas Monastery in Keratea, which rocked the entire nation in 1950 when its horrible secrets were revealed!
The Pefkovounogiatrissas Monastery in Keratea, which rocked the entire nation in 1950 when its horrible secrets were revealed!

“My sister and brother-in-law, both consumptive, died there. Their three children were subjected to 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!”

Hundreds of people—dozens of children amongst them—were tortured to death by the abbess in order to be sent “to paradise without sin.”

1950 photograph showing the children with the nuns at Peukovounogiatrissa Monastery in Keratea.
1950 photograph showing the children with the nuns at Peukovounogiatrissa Monastery in Keratea.

More than two hundred innocent souls were horribly tortured at the behest of Abbess Mariam Soulakioti, who was sentenced to life imprisonment and died in Averov Prison. For years and years Keratea and the horrible deaths had haunted the headlines, but every now and then another shocking story sprang from hell.

Such as the story of Seraphim Silvestri, who lost his sister, brother-in-law, and three nephews in the cells of the monastery, as well as a young woman who left the seat of the court speechless when he began recounting what the nuns did to her 10 year old niece.

“Once they put my little niece, a 10 year old girl, in the kitchen for a chore. She was hungry and licked a potato. The sentence they imposed: The tied her completely nude in the stable and left her overnight. In the morning they found her senseless from cold and fear. Her soul had been cleansed and had been through all the preparation for paradise…”

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

The years went by, the inhumane stories were forgotten and today almost nobody remembers the screams of the children begging for help. The old nuns paid for their crimes, others were imprisoned and died in prison and the others in the monastery, which continues to operate with new nuns who pray daily for the soul of the “Saint Mariam.”

Abbess Mariam Soulakiotou. Witnesses who washed and dressed her body for her burial claimed that her body had broken needles left in it.
Abbess Mariam Soulakiotou. Witnesses who washed and dressed her body for her burial claimed that her body had broken needles left in it.

“She paid for something she did not do”

Fifty-eight years later, the nuns at the Keratea monastery could be changed, new ones came, but however all of them do not stop praying to Abbess Mariam, “to this saint who was slandered and paid for something she did not do,” as they say characteristically.

Cultish devotion even after her death.
Cultish devotion even after her death.

As two of the older nuns pointed out to «Espresso» “this monastery has been mercilessly beaten in the past and they continue to fight it. But we are not afraid just as Mariam didn’t fear. She was sentenced to die on a prison bed for crimes she did not do. She was a holy person,” they stressed and added: “Indeed, it was expected that she would have a tragic end, just as the other saints who were tortured by seculars before taking their place next to God.”

As the nuns recounted to us, “The monastery, which dates from 1927, was fortunate to host distinguished people, providential. Like the Archbishop of the Genuine Orthodox Christians, Matthew Karpathakis, the Abbess Mariam and several others. Here we honor St. Matthew every May and many believers come to pray to his icon for him to help them. Besides, his miracles are numerous. We will never forget a miracle that happened here about ten years ago and which many people question even today.”
The girl who swallowed Communion

According to the nun Despina, “ten years ago, a 10 year old mute girl came to the monastery.” Her parents had gone to all the doctors, but had not seen results. An aunt of the child told them to bring her here, as they did. Once the little girl kissed of St. Matthew’s icon, she turned and for the first time said to her mother: “Mommy, I have something in the throat.” We were all speechless. Her mother told her to spit it out, but the short answer that “the owner of the photograph [i.e. picture of Matthew] told me to swallow.” Once she swallowed it, she started laughing and telling us that it was very beautiful and sweet. We understood that it was Holy Communion. Today, this little girl, now a woman, still comes to the Monastery.”

The monastery’s abbess stands in front of the icon of Bishop Matthew Karpathakis
The monastery’s abbess stands in front of the icon of Bishop Matthew Karpathakis

The corpse that “streams myrrh” and the horrible tortures

Sunday, November 19, 1950
After the death of Bishop Matthew Karpathakis, the Abbess Mariam deliberately spread rumors that his corpse “streamed myrrh”! In this way, hundreds of simplistic people were attracted who rushed there from many parts of Greece to see the miracle of St. Matthew whose body allegedly emitted myrrh.
Yet in reality, the sly abbess had sprinkled his corpse with perfume to deceive the pious and create a legend around the name of Matthew.

Mariam confessed that 36 of the 50 children had been cloistered in the "Andron" of Keratea.
Mariam confessed that 36 of the 50 children had been cloistered in the “Andron” of Keratea.

Saturday, November 25, 1950
The revealing narrative of the elderly Eugenia Margetis continues as she described with the darkest colors some of the horrible tortures to which she and other nuns were subjected.
Mariam ordered nuns under punishment to remain only in underwear and then assigned to a nun from her surroundings to beat them with a plank.
Other nuns, after Vespers, were led into the forests around the Monastery and fastened half-naked to the trees and remained tied up until Orthros.

More murders, blackmail, and frauds of Mariam come to light.
More murders, blackmail, and frauds of Mariam come to light.

Tuesday, November 28, 1950
From the continuing questioning about the scandals of Keratea Monastery, it was disclosed yesterday that Mariam’s most common method of torturing her victims was hanging them upside down from the surrounding trees to … leave them in the nest of these demons.
The son of Pavlakis narrated to his mother that the nuns at the Keratea Monastery submitted him to torture. Specifically, before dawn the nuns awaken the young boys and girls for Orthros. They would wake them up with a ferocious beating and told them this was for their purification, because in order to go to church and hear the Orthros and Liturgy, they must be savagely flogged beforehand, to be in pain and cry, because only then would they realize the greatness of the Christian religion. If any of the children dared to protest, the nuns moved him to the adjacent pine forest, tied his legs and they hung him from a pine tree with his head towards the ground.

The arrest of four "bishops" is ordered.
The arrest of four “bishops” is ordered.

Friday, February 9, 1951
Yesterday, the preliminary hearing for the Keratea Monastery scandals which began on November 15th, were terminated by the deputy procurator Mr. Papakaryas terminated after the request of the Chief Prosecutor Mr. Velouzou,…new criminal lawsuits were brought against Mariam Soulakiotou and the other monks for 13 new felonies, i.e. for homicide, fraud, forgery of wills, extortion…
Besides Mariam Soulakioti, notorious Abbess of the “Peukovounogiatrissa” monastery in Keratea, her helper Euphrosyne Mendrinou, as well as nuns and monks of their immediate surroundings, who have been placed in custody, have emerged from the preliminary investigation by Mr.. Papakarya guilty elements also against other foreign persons…
• Mr. Bakas, his wife and their three children, holders of significant property, went into the monastery appropriating their property. After some time, however, Mrs. Bakas realized she wanted to leave the monastery. But then Mariam put her in quarantine for six months in a hovel with grossly inadequate food. Mrs. Bakas contracted tuberculosis from the hovel and died shortly after. Her husband, also in the same manner, was infected and died of tuberculosis.
• The case of the Panagiotopoulou couple, who were forced to divest a house in Kallithea to Mariam, which was already being used as an Old Calendarist metochion (dependency), was also characterized as a homicide. Afterwards, the pair died of starvation in the Monastery.
• The case of Michalakou, who was consumptive and, in knowledge of her disorder, was punished with confinement in a hovel and died a few days later was also characterized as murder.
• The case of the nun Theodotis is also another matter of murder. The nuns hit her in such a barbaric way that she developed hemoptysis as a direct result from the abuse and died from it.
• The case of another nun, Maria, is similar. Without knowing what she signed, Maria signed over her property to Mariam and her surroundings. Afterwards, thinking that she was the lady of her estates, went to them to pick olives. The other nuns, however, attacked her, and beat the nun Maria so savagely that she was taken to hospital where she died.

New crimes of Mariam come to light.
New crimes of Mariam come to light.

Wednesday January 26, 1953
Attorney: It is a shame for Greece that Keratea exists! …
Witness: They compelled my consumptive brother-in-law to chew food and then gives it to his 6-year-old child in order to impart the damned disease.
Counsel: Why?
Witness: Because they convinced him that his son would become the child of the devil and would burn the monastery.
….
Once they put my little niece, a10 year old girl, in the kitchen for a chore. She was hungry and licked a potato. The sentence they imposed: The tied her completely nude in the stable and left her overnight. In the morning they found her senseless from cold and fear.
Her soul had been cleansed and had been through all the preparation for paradise …

keratea5

Sunday, February 6, 1955
In the outskirts of the capital and under the nose of the Archbishop of Athens and All Greece, a ghastly den of crass ignorance, criminal unscrupulousness and unmentionable orgies operated for years undisturbed. An illiterate monk, in collaboration with a brutal nun slowly dragged various naive and tired and mentally ill and ignorant into this den via methods analogous of Nazi concentration camps…

keratea7
Note: photos from newspapers are placed in random order not  in relation to their texts.

moni2_0Το δημοσίευμα της εφημερίδας «Ελευθερία» το Σάββατο 25 Νοεμβρίου 1950.

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.