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23 May, 2024
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Scandals and sanctimony in Cyprus

From holy miracles to reindeer rumors, unraveling the enigmatic tale of Avvakoum Monastery



In recent years, we've seen it all. From COVID to the Ukraine conflict and the dramatic events unfolding next door in Gaza. Yet, nothing has rocked the average Cypriot quite like the scandal of the Avvakoum Monastery. Why, you ask? Well, it simply had all the makings of a Hollywood blockbuster: miracles (plenty of them, and handsomely paid for), money (bags and boxes of it), viral videos (some fearless souls even recorded confessions), and of course, sex (because when you hear about sex in a monastery, you inevitably perk up your ears). With these ingredients, we had a scandal of international proportions that put us (and embarrassed us a bit) on the global map.

In recent weeks, developments had almost come to a standstill, as very little leaked out to the public. No videos, no depositions (judicial or financial), and no accusations flying between the involved parties. Life in Cyprus had begun to return to the bleak days of the past, where the highlight of our laughs was waiting for some analysis from Koulia in Parliament. Until suddenly, our beloved leader Nektarios, known for his salty language and monastery bakery crepes, makes a post with a reflection and breaks the internet (because no influencer in Cyprus has ever broken the internet like the monks in Fterikoudi did, let's be real about that).

I won't comment on the content of the post; you can read it online and judge for yourselves what to believe and what not. What's certain, however, is that we're entering the final stretch, and each side is trying to sway public opinion in its favor. The monks' and Isaiah's lawyers are preparing for weeks of passion in the courtrooms, and the phrase "devil's advocate" takes on a surreal dimension depending on where one thinks most of the blame lies.

One of the monks from the Avvakoum Monastery had been unjustly expelled by Lythrodontas, with whispers mentioning various condemnable behaviors. How someone facing serious charges of a moral nature could swiftly rise to prominence in a monastery of the same metropolitan region is something only God - and His representative on Earth, Isaiah - can explain to us.

Leaving Lythrodontas, this particular monk left behind wreckage, the sick, and "wild animals," as the folk song says. But besides wild animals, he also left behind fawns. Yes, you heard that right, fawns like those that pull Santa Claus's sleigh.

Some say the glamorous leader had connections with Santa Claus and thus, the beloved saint of Christmas sent his deers to Cyprus for service. Others say he wanted, upon retiring from the miracle-working monk business, to create a zoo where elephants and other animals would shed tears, and tourists would rush to touch them. Because, beyond being an excellent hierarch, he's also a savvy businessman. Oh my God, the things we endure and don't confess to.

Let's close with an obvious reminder: although monks don't have wives, it would be wise for them to abide by the Roman adage that "Caesar's wife must not only be virtuous but must also appear virtuous." And since we're talking about women, let's emphasize the - also obvious - point that we don't hit them with a belt - not even a holy one - and we don't scream "Out!" hysterically because it's 11 in the morning and we feel tired - from what, one wonders. Lord, have mercy on this sinner.

Cyprus  |  monastery  |  scandal

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