Michael Tolotos: The Monk Who Never Saw A Woman

Michael Tolotos

This is an exclusive story about Michael Tolotos, How he was, Why he was famous, and what happened with him. Read till the end for a better understanding.

People of various religions have practiced living in a monastery or convent for millennia. 

To devote themselves to their faith, prayer, and community, these people live primarily (or entirely) in seclusion from the rest of society. 

Although Christian communities first practiced the monastic life, as Britannica noted, other religions, including Buddhism, Daoism, and Jainism, still have adherents who occasionally choose the monastic life.

Monastic communities will adopt the principle of seclusion from the outside world to varied degrees. For instance, certain locations welcome tour groups, but other monasteries would rather remain tucked away from prying eyes.

Exhibit A for monks who would rather be left alone is a mountain in Greece. According to UNESCO, Mount Athos is home to some 20 monasteries with a millennia-old history where Christian monks of all stripes dwell in complete seclusion. 

And one monk achieved the extraordinary of living his entire life without ever setting eyes on a woman.

Michael Tolotos The Monk Who Never Saw A Woman

Michael Tolotos Aka Mihailo

According to the Daily Mail, children aren’t permitted on Mount Athos formally. Unofficially, as a group of monks on the peninsula learned back in or around 1856, desperate circumstances necessitate desperate means. 

According to Vintage, a 1938 newspaper clipping from the Edinburg Daily Courier claims to chronicle the tale of Mihailo (or Michael) Tolotos. 

People can only feel confined if they know what is outside the walls. We are compelled to explore and embark on new adventures because of our knowledge of the outside world.

According to legend, Greek Orthodox monk Michael Tolotos, who lived to be 82 years old, died in 1938 without ever having set eyes on a woman. Be quite shocked; in all 82 years of his life, the man had never known what a woman looked like. 

The Journal’s piece, “The Man Who Never Seen A Woman In His Life,”

His narrative is spoken and written about so infrequently that it’s challenging to locate even online, let alone in books or newspapers. We attempted to reconstruct Michael’s life by piecing together the various bits we had discovered. Just 4 hours after his birth in 1856, his mother died.  The young man was left at the monastery steps on Mount Athos because no one went ahead. The monastery took the boy in, who gave him the name Michael Tolotos. 

Except for his mother, who passed away shortly after he was born, and perhaps a woman who took pity on the foundling when he was still a newborn, Tolotos would spend the next 82 years of his life at the monastery. 

According to The Vintage News, he was almost likely aware of what a lady looked like because the Virgin Mary would undoubtedly be depicted in the monastery’s iconography.

Women and children still need to be allowed to enter the monasteries on Mount Athos. 

Tolotos may be the first, last, and only (sighted) man to have lived his entire life without ever having seen a woman, given the decision to embrace a monastic life is not typically taken by infants.

Mount Athos Has No Woman

You could do much worse than choosing Greece’s Mount Athos to build a monastery, especially where the inmates live in complete seclusion. 

It is located in a secluded area of Greece, and the monasteries that embellish it are, according to UNESCO, many centuries old and perched atop impossibly high hills. 

According to Ouranoupoli, Eastern Orthodox monasteries can be found in this stunning area of Greece, including Bulgarian, Russian, and Serbian monasteries, in addition to Greek Orthodox ones.

The monks there are particularly anxious about women keeping away and keen to keep outsiders out. A lady can only see the location up close from a boat hundreds of feet below. 

According to BBC News, they can be 500 meters (1650 feet) from the coast. 

In addition, a legal document from a thousand years ago specifies that no females are permitted there; the document omits female humans because it was already known that women were not permitted in monasteries for men.

A young (male) orphan was adopted by one of these monasteries, where he lived all his days, probably never seeing a woman.

The world’s largest region where women are prohibited

A charter that forbade the presence of any women on Mount Athos, including human women, was published in 1060.

The 130 square mile peninsula still has this prohibition in place, making it the world’s largest region where women are prohibited from entering. They are even forbidden from approaching the seashore within 500 meters.

According to Dr. Graham Speake, author of Mount Athos: Renewal in Paradise, the charter was probably implemented to ensure the monks upheld their sacred vow of celibacy. 

For the same reason, women have long been prohibited from entering monasteries, many dating back to the Byzantine era. However, Mount Athos stands out since the entire region is “regarded as one huge monastery.”

Since there are no female animals, no eggs or milk can be produced locally either, necessitating the importation of cheese and other animal products from the “outside” world. 

The monks are also forbidden from shaving and must have long beards to verify that no ladies are hiding among them. 

Women are not allowed to enter Mount Omine in Japan or the Haji Ali Dargah in Mumbai, or any other sacred places around the world.

Only a Few women have ever been inside Athos.

Michael Tolotos was raised in a monastery on Mount Athos. While many local monks had relationships with women before committing to the monastic life, Tolotos lived his entire life there. 

Monks are not permitted to quarrel, argue, or inquire about the outside world as part of their commitment to their monastic way of life; this prohibition is still in place today.

Because The Virgin Mary is the only female presence permitted at Mount Athos, Tolotos died in 1983 at 82 without seeing a woman.

The centuries-old prohibition on women is still in place, but there have been a few instances throughout history when women have visited Mount Athos. 

Women and girls were a member of a raiding expedition that entered Mount Athos to reclaim a flock of animals that had been taken refuge there during the Greek Civil War (1946–1949).

Soon after, Maria Poimenidou, a Greek woman, spent three days touring Athos while dressing as a man. She trespassed, and the people of Mount Athos were so outraged that the Greek government created a formal law upholding the 1,000-year-old charter. 

Women are forbidden to enter Athos; anyone caught doing so could face a 12-month prison sentence.

Michael Tolotos When He Died

Michael was born and raised inside the fortified monastery and never left its walls. An ordinance from 1060 prohibited women and animals from Mount Athos during this period. 

The law is still stringent now. Michael passed away in 1983 at 82 without ever seeing a woman because he had no interaction with the outside world, and no women were permitted to enter the monastery. 

Even now, only male tourists are permitted inside the monastery, and the monks are forbidden from shaving, taking a bath, fighting, quarreling, or wondering what lies beyond its walls.

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