Imagine living your entire life without ever seeing a woman. Not your mother, not your sister, not your wife, not even a stranger on the street. How would that affect your perception of the world and yourself? This may sound like a hypothetical scenario, but for one man, it was a reality.
Mihailo Tolotos was a Greek Orthodox monk who died in 1938 at the age of 82. He was perhaps the only man in history who never laid eyes on a woman. His story is fascinating.
Mihailo was born in 1856 in a remote village near Mount Athos, a peninsula in Northern Greece that is home to many monasteries and monks. His mother died four hours after giving birth to him, and no one from his family wanted to take care of him. He was left on the steps of a monastery on Mount Athos, where he was found and adopted by the monks.
Mount Athos is a unique place that has been governed by its own rules for centuries. It is considered to be the spiritual center of Eastern Orthodoxy, and has been inhabited by monks since the 9th century. One of its most distinctive features is that women are strictly forbidden from entering its territory. This ban has been enforced by both religious and secular authorities, and has been respected by most visitors and pilgrims.
Mihailo grew up in this isolated environment, surrounded only by men and boys. He learned to read and write, studied theology and philosophy, prayed and meditated daily, and followed the strict rules of monastic life. He never left Mount Athos or had any contact with the outside world. He never saw any pictures or paintings of women either. He had no idea what they looked like or how they differed from men.
He once said that he imagined women to be similar to men but with longer hair. He also said that he did not feel any curiosity or attraction towards them. He believed that his celibacy and seclusion were pleasing to God and beneficial for his soul. He devoted his life to his faith and his community.
Mihailo died peacefully in October 1938 at his monastery. His death attracted some media attention at the time, as he was considered to be an extraordinary case of human isolation. Some people wondered how he managed to live without ever seeing half of humanity; others admired his dedication and piety.
Mihailo’s story is remarkable but also sad. It shows how some people can live in extreme conditions due to their beliefs or circumstances. It also raises questions about human nature and social interaction. How important is it for us to see different kinds of people? How does our environment shape our identity? How do we cope with loneliness?
We may never know what Mihailo really thought or felt about his life without women. We can only imagine how different it must have been from ours.