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The curious story of Mihailo Toloto, the 82-Year-Old monk who died without ever seeing a real woman

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Mihailo Toloto was a Greek monk who spent his entire 82-year life on Mount Athos without ever seeing an actual woman.
Born in the year 1856, his mother died just four hours after his birth, and with no father or other family members who came forward to claim him as their own, he was abandoned on the steps of a monastery located on Mount Athos, the center of Orthodox monasticism.
He was adopted by the monastery, that became his permanent home.
The community’s disciplinary code, which mandated rigorous compliance by all inhabitants, was the very backdrop of his education.
One of the most notable rules that have existed for over a thousand years in Mount Athos is that females were not allowed to enter the area, laws that have existed since the 10th century.
Mihailo, raised and educated within the walled monastery, he became a monk and reportedly never ventured off the mountain until his death, in 1938.
And, since women are not permitted to set foot on Mount Athos, he died without ever seeing a one of them.

Of course, he isn’t the only person to have never seen a woman in their entire lives. Try to imagine people born blind who never see anything, but Miahilo Toloto’s never ever came into contact with a woman, having spent his entire life among fellow monks and the occasional (male) visitors.
Upon his death, his fellow monks organized a special funeral for him, believing him to be the only man in the world to have died without ever seeing, touching, or otherwise interacting with a woman.
According to an old newspaper article, the Greek monk had also never seen a car or an airplane, although that isn’t as strange considering the age and place he lived in.

Well…actually Mihailo Toloto may have come into contact with a woman on two separate occasions, even if he most likely never realized it because of their disguise.
In the 1920s, in fact, French philosopher and writer Maryse Choisy disguised herself as a sailor in order to gain access onto Mount Athos, and in the 1930s, Aliki Diplarakou, the first Greek woman to be crowned Miss Europe, also used a disguise to infiltrate the sacred Orthodox mountain forbidden to women.
Either way Mount Athos is a monastic community in Greece that has a long history of adhering to a strict rule that prohibits women from entering the monastic republic.
The rule, known as the avaton, has been in place for over a thousand years and is based on the belief that the presence of women could disrupt the spiritual purity of the monastic way of life.
Female domestic animals such as cows or sheep are also barred, and the only exception being cats due to their mousing abilities.
Today, Mount Athos is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and attracts thousands of visitors every year, many of whom are drawn to its rich history and spiritual traditions.
The community includes 20 monasteries and the settlements that they depend on.
The monasteries house around 2,000 Eastern Orthodox monks from Greece and many other countries, including Eastern Orthodox countries such as Romania, Moldova, Georgia, Bulgaria, Montenegro, Serbia and Russia, who live an ascetic life at Athos, isolated from the rest of the world.

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