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Hermit

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Encyclopedia
A hermit is a person who lives, to some degree, in seclusion
Solitude
Solitude is a state of seclusion or isolation, i.e., lack of contact with people. It may stem from bad relationships, deliberate choice, infectious disease, mental disorders, neurological disorders or circumstances of employment or situation .Short-term solitude is often valued as a time when one...

 from society.

In Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

, the term was originally applied to a Christian who lives the eremitic life out of a religious conviction, namely the Desert Theology of the Old Testament
Old Testament
The Old Testament, of which Christians hold different views, is a Christian term for the religious writings of ancient Israel held sacred and inspired by Christians which overlaps with the 24-book canon of the Masoretic Text of Judaism...

 (i.e., the forty years wandering in the desert
Wilderness of Sin
The Wilderness of Sin/Desert of Sin is a geographic area mentioned by the Bible as lying between Elim and Mount Sinai. Sin does not refer to sinfulness, but is an untranslated word that would translate as the moon; biblical scholars suspect that the name Sin here refers to the semitic moon-deity...

 that was meant to bring about a change of heart).

In the Christian tradition the eremitic life is an early form of monastic living
Monk
A monk is a person who practices religious asceticism, living either alone or with any number of monks, while always maintaining some degree of physical separation from those not sharing the same purpose...

 that preceded the monastic life in the cenobium. The Rule of St Benedict
Rule of St Benedict
The Rule of Saint Benedict is a book of precepts written by St. Benedict of Nursia for monks living communally under the authority of an abbot. Since about the 7th century it has also been adopted by communities of women...

 (ch. 1) lists hermits among four kinds of monk
Monk
A monk is a person who practices religious asceticism, living either alone or with any number of monks, while always maintaining some degree of physical separation from those not sharing the same purpose...

s. In addition to hermits that are members of religious orders
Roman Catholic religious order
Catholic religious orders are, historically, a category of Catholic religious institutes.Subcategories are canons regular ; monastics ; mendicants Catholic religious orders are, historically, a category of Catholic religious institutes.Subcategories are canons regular (canons and canonesses regular...

, the contemporary Roman Catholic Church law
Canon law
Canon law is the body of laws & regulations made or adopted by ecclesiastical authority, for the government of the Christian organization and its members. It is the internal ecclesiastical law governing the Catholic Church , the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox churches, and the Anglican Communion of...

 (canon 603) recognizes also consecrated hermits under the direction of their diocesan bishop
Bishop
A bishop is an ordained or consecrated member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox Churches, in the Assyrian Church of the East, in the Independent Catholic Churches, and in the...

 as members of the Consecrated Life. The same is true in many parts of the Anglican Communion, including the Episcopal Church in the United States. In the Canon Law of the Episcopal Church, those who make application to their diocesan bishop and who persevere in whatever preparatory program the bishop requires, take vows that include lifelong celibacy. They are referred to as Solitaries rather than hermits; each selects a bishop other than their diocesan as an additional spiritual resource and, if necessary, an intermediary.

Often, both in religious and secular literature, the term "hermit" is used loosely for anyone living a solitary life-style, including the misanthrope
Misanthropy
Misanthropy is generalized dislike, distrust, disgust, contempt or hatred of the human species or human nature. A misanthrope, or misanthropist is someone who holds such views or feelings...

, and in religious contexts is sometimes assumed to be interchangeable with anchorite / anchoress
Anchorite
Anchorite denotes someone who, for religious reasons, withdraws from secular society so as to be able to lead an intensely prayer-oriented, ascetic, and—circumstances permitting—Eucharist-focused life...

(from the Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

  anachōreō, signifying "to withdraw", "to depart into the country outside the circumvallate city"), recluse
Recluse
A recluse is a person who lives in voluntary seclusion from the public and society, often close to nature. The word is from the Latin recludere, which means "shut up" or "sequester." There are many potential reasons for becoming a recluse: a personal philosophy that rejects consumer society; a...

 and solitary. However, it is important to retain a clear distinction between the vocation of hermits and that of anchorites.

In modern colloquial usage, the term "hermit" is sometimes used for anyone living a life apart from the rest of society, or who simply does not participate in social events as much as is common, regardless of their motivation in doing so.

Etymology


The word hermit comes from the Latin ĕrēmīta, the latinisation
Latinisation (literature)
Latinisation is the practice of rendering a non-Latin name in a Latin style. It is commonly met with for historical personal names, with toponyms, or for the standard binomial nomenclature of the life sciences. It goes further than Romanisation, which is the writing of a word in the Latin alphabet...

 of the Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 ἐρημίτης (erēmitēs), "of the desert", which in turn comes from (erēmos), signifying "desert", "uninhabited", hence "desert-dweller"; adjective: "eremitic".

Christianity


Because the life of the Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

 hermit, both in ancient and in modern times, is rooted in the Desert Theology of the Old Testament
Old Testament
The Old Testament, of which Christians hold different views, is a Christian term for the religious writings of ancient Israel held sacred and inspired by Christians which overlaps with the 24-book canon of the Masoretic Text of Judaism...

, it is a life entirely given to the praise of God and the love and, through the hermit's penance and prayers, also the service of all humanity. The latter is crucial to the correct understanding of the eremitic vocation, since the Judeo-Christian
Judeo-Christian
Judeo-Christian is a term used in the United States since the 1940s to refer to standards of ethics said to be held in common by Judaism and Christianity, for example the Ten Commandments...

 tradition holds that God created man (i.e., the individual human being) relational, which means that solitude can never be the purpose of any Christian vocation but only a conducive environment for striving after a particular spiritual purpose that forms part of our common human vocation.

Tradition


In the common Christian tradition the first known Christian hermit in Egypt was Paul of Thebes
Paul of Thebes
Paul of Thebes, commonly known as Saint Paul the First Hermit or St Paul the Anchorite is regarded as the first Christian hermit...

 (fl.
Floruit
Floruit , abbreviated fl. , is a Latin verb meaning "flourished", denoting the period of time during which something was active...

 3rd century), hence also called "St Paul the first hermit". His disciple Antony of Egypt (fl. 4th century), often referred to as "Antony the Great", is perhaps the most renowned of all the very early Christian hermits owing to the biography by his friend Athanasius of Alexandria
Athanasius of Alexandria
Athanasius of Alexandria [b. ca. – d. 2 May 373] is also given the titles St. Athanasius the Great, St. Athanasius I of Alexandria, St Athanasius the Confessor and St Athanasius the Apostolic. He was the 20th bishop of Alexandria. His long episcopate lasted 45 years Athanasius of Alexandria [b....

. An antecedent for Egyptian eremitism may have been the Syrian solitary or "son of the covenant" (Aramaic bar qəyāmā) who undertook special disciplines as a Christian. In the Middle Ages some Carmelite hermits claimed to trace their origin to Jewish hermits organized by Elijah.

Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

 hermits in the past have often lived in isolated cells or hermitages
Hermitage (religious retreat)
Although today's meaning is usually a place where a hermit lives in seclusion from the world, hermitage was more commonly used to mean a settlement where a person or a group of people lived religiously, in seclusion.-Western Christian Tradition:...

, whether a natural cave
Cave
A cave or cavern is a natural underground space large enough for a human to enter. The term applies to natural cavities some part of which is in total darkness. The word cave also includes smaller spaces like rock shelters, sea caves, and grottos.Speleology is the science of exploration and study...

 or a constructed dwelling, situated in the desert
Desert
A desert is a landscape or region that receives an extremely low amount of precipitation, less than enough to support growth of most plants. Most deserts have an average annual precipitation of less than...

 or the forest
Forest
A forest, also referred to as a wood or the woods, is an area with a high density of trees. As with cities, depending where you are in the world, what is considered a forest may vary significantly in size and have various classification according to how and what of the forest is composed...

. They tended to be sought out for spiritual advice and counsel; and some eventually acquired so many disciple
Apprenticeship
Apprenticeship is a system of training a new generation of practitioners of a skill. Apprentices or protégés build their careers from apprenticeships...

s that they had no physical solitude at all.

The early Christian Desert Fathers wove baskets to exchange for bread. In medieval times hermits were also found within or near cities where they might earn a living as a gate keeper or ferryman.

From the Middle Ages and down to modern times eremitical monasticism has also been practiced within the context of religious orders in the Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

 West. For example in the Catholic Church the Carthusians and Camaldolese
Camaldolese
The Camaldolese monks and nuns are part of the Benedictine family of monastic communities which follow the way of life outlined in the Rule of St. Benedict, written in the 6th century...

 arrange their monasteries as clusters of hermitages where the monks live most of their day and most of their lives in solitary prayer and work, gathering only relatively briefly for communal prayer and only occasionally for community meals and recreation. The Cistercian, Trappist
TRAPPIST
TRAPPIST is Belgian robotic telescope in Chile which came online in 2010, and is an acronym for TRAnsiting Planets and PlanetesImals Small Telescope, so named in homage to Trappist beer produced in the Belgian region. Situated high in the Chilean mountains at La Silla Observatory, it is actually...

 and Carmelite orders, which are essentially communal in nature, allow members who feel a calling
Vocation
A vocation , is a term for an occupation to which a person is specially drawn or for which they are suited, trained or qualified. Though now often used in non-religious contexts, the meanings of the term originated in Christianity.-Senses:...

 to the eremitic life, after years living in the cenobium or community of the monastery, to move to a cell suitable as a hermitage on monastery grounds. This applies to both their monks and their nuns. There have also been many hermits who chose that vocation as an alternative to other forms of monastic life. In the eleventh century, the life of the hermit gained recognition as a legitimate independent pathway to salvation. Many hermits in this century and the next came to be regarded as saints.

Anchorites and anchoresses



The term "anchorite" is often used as a synonym
Synonym
Synonyms are different words with almost identical or similar meanings. Words that are synonyms are said to be synonymous, and the state of being a synonym is called synonymy. The word comes from Ancient Greek syn and onoma . The words car and automobile are synonyms...

 for hermit, not only in the earliest written sources but throughout the centuries. Yet the anchoritic life, while similar to the eremitic life, can also be distinct from it. In the Middle Ages anchorite was a common vocation. Anchorite
Anchorite
Anchorite denotes someone who, for religious reasons, withdraws from secular society so as to be able to lead an intensely prayer-oriented, ascetic, and—circumstances permitting—Eucharist-focused life...

s and anchoresses lived the religious life in the solitude of an "anchorhold" (or "anchorage"), usually a small hut or "cell" built against a church. The door of anchorages tended to be bricked up in a special ceremony conducted by the local bishop
Bishop
A bishop is an ordained or consecrated member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox Churches, in the Assyrian Church of the East, in the Independent Catholic Churches, and in the...

 after the anchorite had moved in. Medieval churches survive that have a tiny window ("squint") built into the shared wall near the sanctuary to allow the anchorite to participate in the liturgy
Liturgy
Liturgy is either the customary public worship done by a specific religious group, according to its particular traditions or a more precise term that distinguishes between those religious groups who believe their ritual requires the "people" to do the "work" of responding to the priest, and those...

 by listening to the service and to receive Holy communion. Another window led out into the street or cemetery, enabling charitable neighbours to deliver food and other necessities. Clients seeking the anchorite's advice might also use this window to consult her. In our times the anchoritic life as a distinct form of vocation is almost unheard of.

Roman Catholicism


Today's Roman Catholics feeling called to eremitic monasticism
Monk
A monk is a person who practices religious asceticism, living either alone or with any number of monks, while always maintaining some degree of physical separation from those not sharing the same purpose...

 may live that vocation
Vocation
A vocation , is a term for an occupation to which a person is specially drawn or for which they are suited, trained or qualified. Though now often used in non-religious contexts, the meanings of the term originated in Christianity.-Senses:...

 either
  • as a hermit (a) belonging to a cenobitic religious order
    Roman Catholic religious order
    Catholic religious orders are, historically, a category of Catholic religious institutes.Subcategories are canons regular ; monastics ; mendicants Catholic religious orders are, historically, a category of Catholic religious institutes.Subcategories are canons regular (canons and canonesses regular...

     (for example Benedictines, Cistercians, Trappists
    Trappists
    The Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance , or Trappists, is a Roman Catholic religious order of cloistered contemplative monks who follow the Rule of St. Benedict...

    ), or (b) in an eremitically oriented religious order (for example Carthusian
    Carthusian
    The Carthusian Order, also called the Order of St. Bruno, is a Roman Catholic religious order of enclosed monastics. The order was founded by Saint Bruno of Cologne in 1084 and includes both monks and nuns...

    , Camaldolese
    Camaldolese
    The Camaldolese monks and nuns are part of the Benedictine family of monastic communities which follow the way of life outlined in the Rule of St. Benedict, written in the 6th century...

    ), but in both cases under obedience to their religious superior (see below), or
  • as a consecrated hermit under the canonical direction of their local bishop
    Bishop
    A bishop is an ordained or consecrated member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox Churches, in the Assyrian Church of the East, in the Independent Catholic Churches, and in the...

     (canon 603, see below).

Religious order members

In the Catholic Church today the institutes of consecrated life
Institute of Consecrated Life
Institutes of consecrated life are canonically erected institutes in the Roman Catholic Church whose members profess the evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty, and obedience by vows or other sacred bonds...

 have their own regulations concerning those of their members who feel called by God to move from the life in community to the eremitic life, and have the permission of their religious superior to do so. The Code of Canon Law (1983)
Canon law (Catholic Church)
The canon law of the Catholic Church, is a fully developed legal system, with all the necessary elements: courts, lawyers, judges, a fully articulated legal code and principles of legal interpretation. It lacks the necessary binding force present in most modern day legal systems. The academic...

 contains no special provisions for them. They technically remain a member of their religious order
Institute of Consecrated Life
Institutes of consecrated life are canonically erected institutes in the Roman Catholic Church whose members profess the evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty, and obedience by vows or other sacred bonds...

 and thus under obedience to their religious superior.

As mentioned above, the Carthusian
Carthusian
The Carthusian Order, also called the Order of St. Bruno, is a Roman Catholic religious order of enclosed monastics. The order was founded by Saint Bruno of Cologne in 1084 and includes both monks and nuns...

 and Camaldolese
Camaldolese
The Camaldolese monks and nuns are part of the Benedictine family of monastic communities which follow the way of life outlined in the Rule of St. Benedict, written in the 6th century...

 orders of monks and nuns preserve their original way of life as essentially eremitical within a cenobitical context: that is, the monasteries of these orders are in fact clusters of individual hermitages where monks and nuns spend their days alone with relatively short periods of prayer in common daily and weekly.

Also as mentioned above, other orders which are essentially cenobitical, most notably the Trappists
Trappists
The Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance , or Trappists, is a Roman Catholic religious order of cloistered contemplative monks who follow the Rule of St. Benedict...

, maintain a tradition that allows individual monks or nuns, when they have reached a certain level of maturity within the community, to pursue the life of the hermit on monastery grounds under the supervision of the abbot or abbess. Thomas Merton
Thomas Merton
Thomas Merton, O.C.S.O. was a 20th century Anglo-American Catholic writer and mystic. A Trappist monk of the Abbey of Gethsemani, Kentucky, he was a poet, social activist, and student of comparative religion...

 was among those Trappists who undertook this way of life.
Canon 603

The earliest form of Christian eremitic or anchoritic living preceded that as a member of a religious order, since monastic communities and religious orders are later developments of the monastic life
Monk
A monk is a person who practices religious asceticism, living either alone or with any number of monks, while always maintaining some degree of physical separation from those not sharing the same purpose...

. Today an increasing number of Christian faithful feel again a vocation
Vocation
A vocation , is a term for an occupation to which a person is specially drawn or for which they are suited, trained or qualified. Though now often used in non-religious contexts, the meanings of the term originated in Christianity.-Senses:...

 to live the eremitic life, whether in the remote country side or in a city in stricter separation from the world, without having passed through life in a monastic community first. Bearing in mind that the meaning of the eremitic vocation is the Desert Theology of the Old Testament
Old Testament
The Old Testament, of which Christians hold different views, is a Christian term for the religious writings of ancient Israel held sacred and inspired by Christians which overlaps with the 24-book canon of the Masoretic Text of Judaism...

 (i.e., the 40 years wandering in the desert
Zin Desert
thumb|250px|The Wilderness is in the southThe Wilderness of Zin/Desert of Zin is a geographic area mentioned by the Torah as containing Kadesh-Barnea within it; and it is therefore also referred to as the "Wilderness of Kadesh"...

 that was meant to bring about a change of heart), it may be said that the desert of the urban
Urban area
An urban area is characterized by higher population density and vast human features in comparison to areas surrounding it. Urban areas may be cities, towns or conurbations, but the term is not commonly extended to rural settlements such as villages and hamlets.Urban areas are created and further...

 hermit is that of their heart, purged through kenosis
Kenosis
In Christian theology, Kenosis In Christian theology, Kenosis In Christian theology, Kenosis (from the Greek word for emptiness (kénōsis) is the 'self-emptying' of one's own will and becoming entirely receptive to God's divine will....

 to be the dwelling place of God alone.

So as to provide for men and women who feel a calling
Vocation
A vocation , is a term for an occupation to which a person is specially drawn or for which they are suited, trained or qualified. Though now often used in non-religious contexts, the meanings of the term originated in Christianity.-Senses:...

 to the eremitic or anchoritic life without being or becoming a member of an institute of consecrated life
Institute of Consecrated Life
Institutes of consecrated life are canonically erected institutes in the Roman Catholic Church whose members profess the evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty, and obedience by vows or other sacred bonds...

, but desire its recognition by the Roman Catholic Church as a form of consecrated life nonetheless, the Code of Canon Law 1983 legislates in the Section on Consecrated Life (canon 603) as follows:

§1 Besides institutes of consecrated life
Institute of Consecrated Life
Institutes of consecrated life are canonically erected institutes in the Roman Catholic Church whose members profess the evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty, and obedience by vows or other sacred bonds...

 the Roman Catholic Church recognizes the eremitic or anchoritic life by which the Christian faithful devote their life to the praise of God and salvation of the world through a stricter separation from the world, the silence
Silence
Silence is the relative or total lack of audible sound. By analogy, the word silence may also refer to any absence of communication, even in media other than speech....

 of solitude
Solitude
Solitude is a state of seclusion or isolation, i.e., lack of contact with people. It may stem from bad relationships, deliberate choice, infectious disease, mental disorders, neurological disorders or circumstances of employment or situation .Short-term solitude is often valued as a time when one...

 and assiduous prayer
Prayer
Prayer is a form of religious practice that seeks to activate a volitional rapport to a deity through deliberate practice. Prayer may be either individual or communal and take place in public or in private. It may involve the use of words or song. When language is used, prayer may take the form of...

 and penance
Penance
Penance is repentance of sins as well as the proper name of the Roman Catholic, Orthodox Christian, and Anglican Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation/Confession. It also plays a part in non-sacramental confession among Lutherans and other Protestants...

.

§2 A hermit is recognized in the law as one dedicated to God in a consecrated life

Consecrated life
The consecrated life in the Christian tradition, especially the Roman Catholic Church, but also the Anglican Church and to some extent other Christian denominations, is, as the Roman Catholic Code of Canon Law states: "a stable form of living by which faithful, following Christ more closely under...

 if he or she publicly professes the three evangelical counsels
Evangelical counsels
The three evangelical counsels or counsels of perfection in Christianity are chastity, poverty , and obedience . As Jesus of Nazareth stated in the Canonical gospels , they are counsels for those who desire to become "perfect"...

" (i.e. chastity
Chastity
Chastity refers to the sexual behavior of a man or woman acceptable to the moral standards and guidelines of a culture, civilization, or religion....

, religious poverty
Poverty
Poverty is the lack of a certain amount of material possessions or money. Absolute poverty or destitution is inability to afford basic human needs, which commonly includes clean and fresh water, nutrition, health care, education, clothing and shelter. About 1.7 billion people are estimated to live...

 and obedience
Obedience
The term obedience can refer to:* Obedience ** The educational film Obedience about the Milgram experiment on obedience to authority figures* Vow of obedience as an evangelical counsel* Obedience training for dogs...

), "confirmed by a vow
Religious vows
Religious vows are the public vows made by the members of religious communities pertaining to their conduct, practices and views.In the Buddhist tradition, in particular within the Mahayana and Vajrayana tradition, many different kinds of religious vows are taken by the lay community as well as by...

 or other sacred bond, in the hands of the diocesan bishop
Diocesan bishop
A diocesan bishop — in general — is a bishop in charge of a diocese. These are to be distinguished from suffragan bishops, assistant bishops, coadjutor bishops, auxiliary bishops, metropolitans, and primates....

 and observes his or her own plan of life under his direction.


Canon 603 §2 therefore lays down certain requirements for those who feel a vocation
Vocation
A vocation , is a term for an occupation to which a person is specially drawn or for which they are suited, trained or qualified. Though now often used in non-religious contexts, the meanings of the term originated in Christianity.-Senses:...

 to the kind of eremitic life that is recognized by the Roman Catholic Church as one of the "other forms of consecrated life". They usually are referred to as "consecrated hermits".

The norms of canon 603 do not apply to the many other Roman Catholic faithful who live alone and devote themselves to fervent prayer for the love of God without however feeling called by God
Vocation
A vocation , is a term for an occupation to which a person is specially drawn or for which they are suited, trained or qualified. Though now often used in non-religious contexts, the meanings of the term originated in Christianity.-Senses:...

 to seek recognition of their prayerful solitary life from the Roman Catholic Church by entering the consecrated life
Consecrated life
The consecrated life in the Christian tradition, especially the Roman Catholic Church, but also the Anglican Church and to some extent other Christian denominations, is, as the Roman Catholic Code of Canon Law states: "a stable form of living by which faithful, following Christ more closely under...

.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church
Catechism of the Catholic Church
The Catechism of the Catholic Church is the official text of the teachings of the Catholic Church. A provisional, "reference text" was issued by Pope John Paul II on October 11, 1992 — "the thirtieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council" — with his apostolic...

 of 11 October 1992 (§§918-921) comments on the eremitic life as follows:

From the very beginning of the Church there were men and women who set out to follow Christ with greater liberty, and to imitate him more closely, by practicing the evangelical counsels
Evangelical counsels
The three evangelical counsels or counsels of perfection in Christianity are chastity, poverty , and obedience . As Jesus of Nazareth stated in the Canonical gospels , they are counsels for those who desire to become "perfect"...

. They led lives dedicated to God, each in his own way. Many of them, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit is a term introduced in English translations of the Hebrew Bible, but understood differently in the main Abrahamic religions.While the general concept of a "Spirit" that permeates the cosmos has been used in various religions Holy Spirit is a term introduced in English translations of...

, became hermits or founded religious families. These the Church, by virtue of her authority, gladly accepted and approved.

Bishops will always strive to discern new gifts of consecrated life granted to the Church by the Holy Spirit; the approval of new forms of consecrated life is reserved to the Apostolic See

Apostolic See
In Christianity, an apostolic see is any episcopal see whose foundation is attributed to one or more of the apostles of Jesus.Out of the many such sees, five acquired special importance in Chalcedonian Christianity and became classified as the Pentarchy in Eastern Orthodox Christianity...

. (Footnote: Cf. CIC, can. 605).

The Eremitic Life
Without always professing the three evangelical counsels publicly, hermits "devote their life to the praise of God and salvation of the world through a stricter separation from the world, the silence of solitude and assiduous prayer and penance". (Footnote: CIC, can. 603 §1)

They manifest to everyone the interior aspect of the mystery of the Church, that is, personal intimacy with Christ. Hidden from the eyes of men, the life of the hermit is a silent preaching of the Lord, to whom he has surrendered his life simply because he is everything to him. Here is a particular call to find in the desert, in the thick of spiritual battle, the glory of the Crucified One.



The norms of the Catholic Church for the consecrated eremitic and anchoritic
Anchorite
Anchorite denotes someone who, for religious reasons, withdraws from secular society so as to be able to lead an intensely prayer-oriented, ascetic, and—circumstances permitting—Eucharist-focused life...

 life (cf. canon 603) do not include corporal works of mercy
Charity (virtue)
In Christian theology charity, or love , means an unlimited loving-kindness toward all others.The term should not be confused with the more restricted modern use of the word charity to mean benevolent giving.- Caritas: altruistic love :...

. Nevertheless, every consecrated hermit, like every Christian, is bound by the law of charity and therefore ought to respond generously, as his or her own circumstances permit, when faced with a specific need for corporal works of mercy
Charity (virtue)
In Christian theology charity, or love , means an unlimited loving-kindness toward all others.The term should not be confused with the more restricted modern use of the word charity to mean benevolent giving.- Caritas: altruistic love :...

. However, since consecrated hermits, like every Christian, are also bound by the law of work, and therefore have to earn their living, they have to do so by any means locally available that is compatible with Christian teaching. Therefore (self-)employment in the care sector may be a work option for consecrated hermits so qualified, providing they can convince their bishop that this will not keep them from observing their obligations of the eremitic vocation in accordance with canon 603, under which they have made their vow
Religious vows
Religious vows are the public vows made by the members of religious communities pertaining to their conduct, practices and views.In the Buddhist tradition, in particular within the Mahayana and Vajrayana tradition, many different kinds of religious vows are taken by the lay community as well as by...

.

Although canon 603 makes no provison for associations of hermits, these do exist (for example the "Hermits of Bethlehem" in Chester NJ and the "Hermits of Saint Bruno" in the U.S.A.; see also lavra
Lavra
In Orthodox Christianity and certain other Eastern Christian communities Lavra or Laura originally meant a cluster of cells or caves for hermits, with a church and sometimes a refectory at the center...

, skete
Skete
A Skete is a monastic style community that allows relative isolation for monks, but alsoallows for communal services and the safety of shared resources and protection...

).
Non-consecrated life

Not all the Roman Catholic lay members that feel that it is their vocation
Vocation
A vocation , is a term for an occupation to which a person is specially drawn or for which they are suited, trained or qualified. Though now often used in non-religious contexts, the meanings of the term originated in Christianity.-Senses:...

 to dedicate themselves to God in a prayerful solitary life perceive it as a vocation to some form of consecrated life. An example of this is life in a Poustinia
Poustinia
A poustinia is a small sparsely furnished cabin or room where one goes to pray and fast alone in the presence of God. The word poustinia has its origin in the Russian word for desert...

, an Eastern Catholic expression of eremitic religious living that is finding adherents also in the West.


Eastern Christianity


In the Orthodox Church
Russian Orthodox Church
The Russian Orthodox Church or, alternatively, the Moscow Patriarchate The ROC is often said to be the largest of the Eastern Orthodox churches in the world; including all the autocephalous churches under its umbrella, its adherents number over 150 million worldwide—about half of the 300 million...

 and Eastern Rite Catholic Churches, however, hermits live a life not only of prayer but also of service to their community in the traditional Eastern Christian manner of the poustinik
Poustinia
A poustinia is a small sparsely furnished cabin or room where one goes to pray and fast alone in the presence of God. The word poustinia has its origin in the Russian word for desert...

. The poustinik is a hermit available to all in need and at all times.

In the Eastern Christian churches one traditional variation of the Christian eremitic life is the semi-eremitic life in a lavra
Lavra
In Orthodox Christianity and certain other Eastern Christian communities Lavra or Laura originally meant a cluster of cells or caves for hermits, with a church and sometimes a refectory at the center...

 or skete
Skete
A Skete is a monastic style community that allows relative isolation for monks, but alsoallows for communal services and the safety of shared resources and protection...

, exemplified historically in Scetes, a place in the Egyptian desert, and continued in various sketes today including several regions on Mount Athos
Mount Athos
Mount Athos is a mountain and peninsula in Macedonia, Greece. A World Heritage Site, it is home to 20 Eastern Orthodox monasteries and forms a self-governed monastic state within the sovereignty of the Hellenic Republic. Spiritually, Mount Athos comes under the direct jurisdiction of the...

.

Notable Christian hermits


Early and Medieval Church
  • Anthony of Egypt, 4th cent., Egypt, a Desert Father, regarded as the founder of Monasticism
    Monasticism
    Monasticism is a religious way of life characterized by the practice of renouncing worldly pursuits to fully devote one's self to spiritual work...

  • Macarius of Egypt
    Macarius of Egypt
    Macarius of Egypt was an Egyptian Christian monk and hermit. He is also known as Macarius the Elder, Macarius the Great and The Lamp of the Desert.-Life:...

    , 4th cent., founder of the Monastery of Saint Macarius the Great
    Monastery of Saint Macarius the Great
    The Monastery of Saint Macarius is a Coptic Orthodox monastery located in Wadi El Natrun, Beheira Governorate, about 92 km north west of Cairo, and off the highway between Cairo and Alexandria.-Ancient History:...

    , presumed author of "Spiritual Homilies"
  • St. Jerome, 4th cent., Mediterranean
    Mediterranean Basin
    In biogeography, the Mediterranean Basin refers to the lands around the Mediterranean Sea that have a Mediterranean climate, with mild, rainy winters and hot, dry summers, which supports characteristic Mediterranean forests, woodlands, and scrub vegetation...

     region, Doctor of the Church
    Doctor of the Church
    Doctor of the Church is a title given by a variety of Christian churches to individuals whom they recognize as having been of particular importance, particularly regarding their contribution to theology or doctrine.-Catholic Church:In the Catholic Church, this name is given to a saint from whose...

    , considered the spiritual father of the Hieronymite eremitic order
  • Syncletica of Alexandria
    Syncletica of Alexandria
    Amma Syncletica of Alexandria, a Christian saint and Desert Mother of the 4th century, was of a wealthy background and is reputed to have been very beautiful...

    , 4th cent., Egypt, one of the early Desert Mothers
    Desert Mothers
    The Desert Mothers were female Christian ascetics living in the desert of Egypt, Palestine, and Syria in the 4th and 5th centuries CE. They typically lived in the monastic communities that began forming during that time, though sometimes they lived as hermits...

    , her maxims are included in the sayings of the Desert Fathers
  • Gregory the Illuminator
    Gregory the Illuminator
    Saint Gregory the Illuminator or Saint Gregory the Enlightener is the patron saint and first official head of the Armenian Apostolic Church...

    , 4th cent., brought the Christian faith to Armenia
    Armenia
    Armenia , officially the Republic of Armenia , is a landlocked mountainous country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia...

  • Mary of Egypt
    Mary of Egypt
    Mary of Egypt is revered as the patron saint of penitents, most particularly in the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and Eastern Catholic churches, as well as in the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches.-Life:...

    , 4/5th cent., Egypt and Transjordan, penitent
  • Simeon Stylites
    Simeon Stylites
    Saint Simeon Stylites or Symeon the Stylite was a Christian ascetic saint who achieved fame because he lived for 39 years on a small platform on top of a pillar near Aleppo in Syria. Several other stylites later followed his model...

    , 4/5th cent., Syria, "pillar hermit"/"pillar saint"
  • Sarah of the Desert
    Sarah of the Desert
    Amma Sarah of the Desert was an early Desert Mother who is known to us today solely through the collected sayings of the Desert Fathers. Amma Sarah was a hermit and lived a life dedicated to strict asceticism for some sixty years. She is said to have dwelt in a monastic cell, likely near the...

    , 5th cent., Egypt, one of the Desert Mothers
    Desert Mothers
    The Desert Mothers were female Christian ascetics living in the desert of Egypt, Palestine, and Syria in the 4th and 5th centuries CE. They typically lived in the monastic communities that began forming during that time, though sometimes they lived as hermits...

    , her maxims are recorded in the sayings of the Desert Fathers
  • St Benedict of Nursia
    Benedict of Nursia
    Saint Benedict of Nursia is a Christian saint, honored by the Roman Catholic Church as the patron saint of Europe and students.Benedict founded twelve communities for monks at Subiaco, about to the east of Rome, before moving to Monte Cassino in the mountains of southern Italy. There is no...

    , 6th cent., Italy, author of the so-called Rule of St Benedict
    Rule of St Benedict
    The Rule of Saint Benedict is a book of precepts written by St. Benedict of Nursia for monks living communally under the authority of an abbot. Since about the 7th century it has also been adopted by communities of women...

    , regarded as the founder of western monasticism
    Monasticism
    Monasticism is a religious way of life characterized by the practice of renouncing worldly pursuits to fully devote one's self to spiritual work...

  • St. Gall, 7th cent., Switzerland, namesake of the city
    St. Gallen
    St. Gallen is the capital of the canton of St. Gallen in Switzerland. It evolved from the hermitage of Saint Gall, founded in the 7th century. Today, it is a large urban agglomeration and represents the center of eastern Switzerland. The town mainly relies on the service sector for its economic...

     and canton of St. Gallen.
  • St. Romuald, 10/11th cent., Italy, founder of the Camaldolese
    Camaldolese
    The Camaldolese monks and nuns are part of the Benedictine family of monastic communities which follow the way of life outlined in the Rule of St. Benedict, written in the 6th century...

     order
  • Guðríðr Þorbjarnardóttir, 10/11th century, Iceland
    Iceland
    Iceland , described as the Republic of Iceland, is a Nordic and European island country in the North Atlantic Ocean, on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Iceland also refers to the main island of the country, which contains almost all the population and almost all the land area. The country has a population...

    .
  • St. Bruno of Cologne, 11th cent., France, the founder of the Carthusian
    Carthusian
    The Carthusian Order, also called the Order of St. Bruno, is a Roman Catholic religious order of enclosed monastics. The order was founded by Saint Bruno of Cologne in 1084 and includes both monks and nuns...

     order
  • Peter the Hermit
    Peter the Hermit
    Peter the Hermit was a priest of Amiens and a key figure during the First Crusade.-Before 1096:According to Anna Comnena, he had attempted to go on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem before 1096, but was prevented by the Seljuk Turks from reaching his goal and was tortured.Sources differ as to whether he...

    , 11th cent., France, leader of the People's Crusade
    People's Crusade
    The People's Crusade is part of the First Crusade and lasted roughly six months from April 1096 to October. It is also known as the Peasants' Crusade or the Paupers' Crusade...

  • Richard Rolle de Hampole, 13th cent., England, religious writer
  • Julian of Norwich
    Julian of Norwich
    Julian of Norwich is regarded as one of the most important English mystics. She is venerated in the Anglican and Lutheran churches, but has never been canonized, or officially beatified, by the Catholic Church, probably because so little is known of her life aside from her writings, including the...

    , 15th cent., England, anchoress
    Anchoress
    Anchoress is a Canadian hardcore punk band that was formed in 2010.The band released their debut EP, Set Sail, via Bandcamp on 4 March 2011.-Members:* Rob Hoover – vocals* Keenan Federico – guitar* Chris Lennox-Aasen – drums* Ricky Castanedo – bass...

  • St. Juan Diego, 1474–1548, Mexico, visionary of the apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe
    Our Lady of Guadalupe
    Our Lady of Guadalupe , also known as the Virgin of Guadalupe is a celebrated Catholic icon of the Virgin Mary.According to tradition, on December 9, 1531 Juan Diego, a simple indigenous peasant, had a vision of a young woman while he was on a hill in the Tepeyac desert, near Mexico City. The lady...



Modern times – Roman Catholic Church
  • Hermit members of religious orders
    Institute of Consecrated Life
    Institutes of consecrated life are canonically erected institutes in the Roman Catholic Church whose members profess the evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty, and obedience by vows or other sacred bonds...

    :
    • Maria Boulding, Benedictine nun, spiritual writer
    • Thomas Merton
      Thomas Merton
      Thomas Merton, O.C.S.O. was a 20th century Anglo-American Catholic writer and mystic. A Trappist monk of the Abbey of Gethsemani, Kentucky, he was a poet, social activist, and student of comparative religion...

      , 20th cent., Cistercian monk, spiritual writer

  • Consecrated hermits (canon 603):
    • Sr Scholastica Egan, writer on the eremitic vocation

  • Colonies, skete
    Skete
    A Skete is a monastic style community that allows relative isolation for monks, but alsoallows for communal services and the safety of shared resources and protection...

    s, lavra
    Lavra
    In Orthodox Christianity and certain other Eastern Christian communities Lavra or Laura originally meant a cluster of cells or caves for hermits, with a church and sometimes a refectory at the center...

    s of Consecrated Hermits (canon 603):
    • Hermits of Bethlehem, Chester, NJ (modern lavra)

  • Christian faithful living an eremitic form of life without belonging to a religious order
    Institute of Consecrated Life
    Institutes of consecrated life are canonically erected institutes in the Roman Catholic Church whose members profess the evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty, and obedience by vows or other sacred bonds...

     or being a Consecrated Hermit (canon 603):
    • Sister Wendy Beckett
      Wendy Beckett
      Sister Wendy Beckett is a South African-born British art expert, consecrated virgin and contemplative hermit who became a celebrity during the 1990s, presenting a series of acclaimed art history documentaries for the BBC.-Biography:...

      , formerly of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur
      Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur
      The Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, is the name of a Roman Catholic order of religious sisters, dedicated to providing education to the poor.The order was founded in Amiens in 1803, but the opposition of the local bishop to missions outside his diocese led to the moving of headquarters to then...

      , since 1970 Consecrated virgin
      Consecrated virgin
      In the Catholic Church a consecrated virgin is a woman who has been conscrated by the church to a life of perpetual virginity in the service of God. Consecrated virgins are to spend their time in works of penance and mercy, in apostolic activity and in prayer, according to their state of life and...

      , lives in "monastic solitude"; art historian
    • Catherine de Hueck Doherty
      Catherine Doherty
      Ekaterina Fyodorovna Kolyschkine Doherty, better known as Catherine Doherty, CM, Servant of God was a social activist and foundress of the Madonna House Apostolate...

      , poustinik
      Poustinia
      A poustinia is a small sparsely furnished cabin or room where one goes to pray and fast alone in the presence of God. The word poustinia has its origin in the Russian word for desert...

      , foundress of the Madonna House Apostolate
      Madonna House Apostolate
      The Madonna House Apostolate is a Catholic Christian community of lay men, women, and priests dedicated to loving and serving Jesus Christ in all aspects of everyday life. It was founded in 1947 by Catherine Doherty in Combermere, Ontario and has established missionary field houses...

    • Charles de Foucauld
      Charles de Foucauld
      Charles Eugène de Foucauld was a French Catholic religious and priest living among the Tuareg in the Sahara in Algeria. He was assassinated in 1916 outside the door of the fort he built for protection of the Tuareg and is considered by the Catholic Church to be a martyr...

      , 19/20th cent., formerly Trappist monk
      TRAPPIST
      TRAPPIST is Belgian robotic telescope in Chile which came online in 2010, and is an acronym for TRAnsiting Planets and PlanetesImals Small Telescope, so named in homage to Trappist beer produced in the Belgian region. Situated high in the Chilean mountains at La Silla Observatory, it is actually...

      , inspired the founding of the Little Brothers of Jesus
      Little Brothers of Jesus
      The Little Brothers of Jesus is a religious congregation of brothers within the Catholic Church; it is inspired by the life and writings of Blessed Charles de Foucauld...

    • Jan Tyranowski
      Jan Tyranowski
      Jan Tyranowski - Catholic layman, student of Discalced Carmelite spirituality, and central figure in the spiritual formation of the young Karol Wojtyla, who became Pope John Paul II. He was the youth leader and student mentor of Karol Wojtyla's university parish, St...

      , spiritual mentor to the young Karol Wojtyla, who would eventually become Pope John Paul II
      Pope John Paul II
      Blessed Pope John Paul II , born Karol Józef Wojtyła , reigned as Pope of the Catholic Church and Sovereign of Vatican City from 16 October 1978 until his death on 2 April 2005, at of age. His was the second-longest documented pontificate, which lasted ; only Pope Pius IX ...



Modern times – Orthodox Church
  • Sergius of Radonezh
    Sergius of Radonezh
    Venerable Sergius of Radonezh , also transliterated as Sergey Radonezhsky or Serge of Radonezh, was a spiritual leader and monastic reformer of medieval Russia. Together with Venerable Seraphim of Sarov, he is one of the Russian Orthodox Church's most highly venerated saints.-Early life:The date of...

    , 14th cent.
  • Herman of Alaska
    Herman of Alaska
    Saint Herman of Alaska was one of the first Eastern Orthodox missionaries to the New World, and is considered by Orthodox Christians to be the patron saint of the Americas.-Biography:Saint Herman was born in the town of Serpukhov in the Moscow Diocese around 1756...

    , 18th cent.
  • Seraphim of Sarov, 18/19th cent.


Modern Times - Protestant Churches
  • Order of Watchers
    Order of Watchers
    The Order of Watchers is a community of hermits of the French Protestant tradition founded in 1923 by theologian Wilfred Monod....

    , a contemporary French Protestant eremitic fraternity.



Other religions


From a religious
Religion
Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to...

 point of view, the solitary life is a form of asceticism
Asceticism
Asceticism describes a lifestyle characterized by abstinence from various sorts of worldly pleasures often with the aim of pursuing religious and spiritual goals...

, wherein the hermit renounces worldly concerns and pleasures. This can be done for many reasons, including: to come closer to the deity or deities
Deity
A deity is a recognized preternatural or supernatural immortal being, who may be thought of as holy, divine, or sacred, held in high regard, and respected by believers....

 they worship or revere, to devote one's energies to self-liberation from saṃsāra
Samsara
thumb|right|200px|Traditional Tibetan painting or [[Thanka]] showing the [[wheel of life]] and realms of saṃsāraSaṅsāra or Saṃsāra , , literally meaning "continuous flow", is the cycle of birth, life, death, rebirth or reincarnation within Hinduism, Buddhism, Bön, Jainism, Sikhism, and other...

, etc. This practice appears also in Hinduism
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

, Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

, and Sufism
Sufism
Sufism or ' is defined by its adherents as the inner, mystical dimension of Islam. A practitioner of this tradition is generally known as a '...

. Taoism
Taoism
Taoism refers to a philosophical or religious tradition in which the basic concept is to establish harmony with the Tao , which is the mechanism of everything that exists...

 also has a long history of ascetic and eremetical figures. In the ascetic eremitic life, the hermit seeks solitude for meditation
Meditation
Meditation is any form of a family of practices in which practitioners train their minds or self-induce a mode of consciousness to realize some benefit....

, contemplation
Contemplation
The word contemplation comes from the Latin word contemplatio. Its root is also that of the Latin word templum, a piece of ground consecrated for the taking of auspices, or a building for worship, derived either from Proto-Indo-European base *tem- "to cut", and so a "place reserved or cut out" or...

, and prayer
Prayer
Prayer is a form of religious practice that seeks to activate a volitional rapport to a deity through deliberate practice. Prayer may be either individual or communal and take place in public or in private. It may involve the use of words or song. When language is used, prayer may take the form of...

 without the distractions of contact with human society, sex
Sex
In biology, sex is a process of combining and mixing genetic traits, often resulting in the specialization of organisms into a male or female variety . Sexual reproduction involves combining specialized cells to form offspring that inherit traits from both parents...

, or the need to maintain socially acceptable standards of cleanliness
Cleanliness
Cleanliness is both the abstract state of being clean and free from dirt, and the process of achieving and maintaining that state.Cleanliness may be endowed with a moral quality, as indicated by the aphorism "cleanliness is next to godliness," and may be regarded as contributing to other ideals...

 or dress
Clothing
Clothing refers to any covering for the human body that is worn. The wearing of clothing is exclusively a human characteristic and is a feature of nearly all human societies...

. The ascetic discipline
Discipline
In its original sense, discipline is referred to systematic instruction given to disciples to train them as students in a craft or trade, or to follow a particular code of conduct or "order". Often, the phrase "to discipline" carries a negative connotation. This is because enforcement of order –...

 can also include a simplified diet
Diet (nutrition)
In nutrition, diet is the sum of food consumed by a person or other organism. Dietary habits are the habitual decisions an individual or culture makes when choosing what foods to eat. With the word diet, it is often implied the use of specific intake of nutrition for health or weight-management...

 and/or manual labor
Manual labour
Manual labour , manual or manual work is physical work done by people, most especially in contrast to that done by machines, and also to that done by working animals...

 as a means of support.

Notable hermits

  • Gautama Buddha
    Gautama Buddha
    Siddhārtha Gautama was a spiritual teacher from the Indian subcontinent, on whose teachings Buddhism was founded. In most Buddhist traditions, he is regarded as the Supreme Buddha Siddhārtha Gautama (Sanskrit: सिद्धार्थ गौतम; Pali: Siddhattha Gotama) was a spiritual teacher from the Indian...

    , who, having abandoned his royal life for a solitary quest for spiritual enlightenment, first became a hermit, and later abandoned asceticism to became the founder of Buddhism
    Buddhism
    Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

    .
  • Laozi
    Laozi
    Laozi was a mystic philosopher of ancient China, best known as the author of the Tao Te Ching . His association with the Tao Te Ching has led him to be traditionally considered the founder of Taoism...

    , in some traditions he spent his final days as a hermit.
  • U Khandi
    U Khandi
    U Khandi was a Burmese hermit known for his works on Buddhist pagodas and other religious buildings in Myanmar. U Khandi maintained the Mandalay Hill and organized many religious activities for 40 years. He was born Maung Po Maung in Ywathaya village, Yamethin District in 1868...

    , Religious figure in Burma.
  • Yoshida Kenkō
    Yoshida Kenko
    was a Japanese author and Buddhist monk. His most famous work is "Tsurezuregusa" , one of the most studied works of medieval Japanese literature. Kenko wrote during the Muromachi and Kamakura periods.-Life and work:...

    , Japanese author.
  • Zhang Daoling
    Zhang Daoling
    Zhang Ling , style name Fuhan , was an Eastern Han Dynasty Taoist hermit who founded the Way of the Celestial Masters sect of Taoism, which is also known as the Way of the Five Pecks of Rice....

    , Founder of Tianshi Dao
    Tianshi Dao
    Tianshi Dao or Way of the Celestial Masters is a Chinese Daoist movement that was founded by Zhang Daoling in 142 CE. At its height, the movement controlled a theocratic state in what is now Sichuan.-Way of the Five Pecks of Rice:...

    .
  • Hsu Yun
    Hsu Yun
    Hsu Yun , born Xiao Guyan 萧古巖, 26 August 1840 – 13 October 1959) was a renowned Zen Buddhist master and one of the most influential Buddhist teachers of the 19th and 20th centuries. He is often noted for his unusually long lifespan, having lived to age 119.-Early life:Hsu Yun was born on April 26...

    , Ch'an Buddhist monk in China.
  • Hanshan
    Hanshan
    Hanshan was a legendary figure associated with a collection of poems from the Chinese Tang Dynasty in the Taoist and Chan tradition. He is honored as an incarnation of the Bodhisattva Manjusri in Zen lore...

    , Buddhist/Taoist hermit and poet.
  • Emily Dickinson
    Emily Dickinson
    Emily Elizabeth Dickinson was an American poet. Born in Amherst, Massachusetts, to a successful family with strong community ties, she lived a mostly introverted and reclusive life...

    , American poet.
  • An unnamed hermit of over 500 years old in the mountains of China taught Li Ching-Yuen
    Li Ching-Yuen
    Li Ching-Yuen or Li Ching-Yun was a Chinese herbalist, martial artist and tactical advisor. He claimed to be born in 1736, while disputed records suggest 1677...

     the art of Baguazhang
    Baguazhang
    Bāguàzhǎng is one of the three main Chinese martial arts of the Wudang school, the other two being Taijiquan and Xingyiquan. It is more broadly grouped as an internal practice...

     and a set Qigong
    Qigong
    Qigong or chi kung is a practice of aligning breath, movement, and awareness for exercise, healing, and meditation...

    .
  • Lin Bu
    Lin Bu
    Lin Bu was a Chinese poet during the Northern Song Dynasty. His style name was Lin Hejing. One of the most famous verse masters of his time, Lin lived in recluse by the West Lake in Hangzhou for much of his later life...

     (林逋) was a Song Dynasty
    Song Dynasty
    The Song Dynasty was a ruling dynasty in China between 960 and 1279; it succeeded the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period, and was followed by the Yuan Dynasty. It was the first government in world history to issue banknotes or paper money, and the first Chinese government to establish a...

     poet that spend much of his later life in solitude, while admiring plum blossoms, on a cottage by West Lake
    West Lake
    Xī Hú is a famous fresh water lake located in the historic center of Hangzhou, the capital of Zhejiang province in eastern China. The lake is divided by the causeways of Sū Tí , Bái Tí , and Yánggōng Tí...

     in Hangzhou.

In popular culture

  • In medieval romances
    Romance (genre)
    As a literary genre of high culture, romance or chivalric romance is a style of heroic prose and verse narrative that was popular in the aristocratic circles of High Medieval and Early Modern Europe. They were fantastic stories about marvel-filled adventures, often of a knight errant portrayed as...

    , the knight errant frequently encounters hermits on his quest
    Quest
    In mythology and literature, a quest, a journey towards a goal, serves as a plot device and as a symbol. Quests appear in the folklore of every nation and also figure prominently in non-national cultures. In literature, the objects of quests require great exertion on the part of the hero, and...

    ; such a figure, generally a wise old man
    Wise old man
    The wise old man is an archetype as described by Carl Jung, as well as a classic literary figure, and may be seen as a stock character...

    , would advise him. Knights searching for the Holy Grail
    Holy Grail
    The Holy Grail is a sacred object figuring in literature and certain Christian traditions, most often identified with the dish, plate, or cup used by Jesus at the Last Supper and said to possess miraculous powers...

    , in particular, learn of the errors of which they must repent, and have the significance of their encounters, dreams and visions explained to them. Evil wizards
    Magician (fantasy)
    A magician, mage, sorcerer, sorceress, wizard, enchanter, enchantress, thaumaturge or a person known under one of many other possible terms is someone who uses or practices magic that derives from supernatural or occult sources...

     would sometimes pose as hermits, to explain their presence in the wilds, and to lure heroes into a false sense of security. In Edmund Spenser
    Edmund Spenser
    Edmund Spenser was an English poet best known for The Faerie Queene, an epic poem and fantastical allegory celebrating the Tudor dynasty and Elizabeth I. He is recognised as one of the premier craftsmen of Modern English verse in its infancy, and one of the greatest poets in the English...

    's The Faerie Queene
    The Faerie Queene
    The Faerie Queene is an incomplete English epic poem by Edmund Spenser. The first half was published in 1590, and a second installment was published in 1596. The Faerie Queene is notable for its form: it was the first work written in Spenserian stanza and is one of the longest poems in the English...

    , both occurred: the knight on a quest met a good hermit, and the sorcerer Archimago
    Archimago
    Archimago is a sorcerer in Spenser's "Faerie Queene." His name means Arch-Image; he is continually engaged in deceitful magics, as when he makes a false Una to tempt the Red-Cross Knight into lust, and when this fails, conjures another image, of a squire, to deceive the knight into believing that...

     took on such a pose. These hermits are sometimes also vegetarians for ascetic reasons, as suggested in a passage from Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur
    Le Morte d'Arthur
    Le Morte d'Arthur is a compilation by Sir Thomas Malory of Romance tales about the legendary King Arthur, Guinevere, Lancelot, and the Knights of the Round Table...

    : 'Then departed Gawain and Ector as heavy (sad) as they might for their misadventure (mishap), and so rode till that they came to the rough mountain, and there they tied their horses and went on foot to the hermitage. And when they were (had) come up, they saw a poor house, and beside the chapel a little courtelage (courtyard), where Nacien the hermit gathered worts (vegetables), as he which had tasted none other meat (food) of a great while.' The practice of vegetarianism may have also existed amongst actual medieval hermits outside of literature.

  • Hermits can appear in fairy tale
    Fairy tale
    A fairy tale is a type of short story that typically features such folkloric characters, such as fairies, goblins, elves, trolls, dwarves, giants or gnomes, and usually magic or enchantments. However, only a small number of the stories refer to fairies...

    s in the character of the donor
    Donor (fairy tale)
    In fairy tales, a donor is a character that tests the hero and provides magical assistances to the hero when he succeeds.The fairy godmother is a well-known form of this character...

    , as in Făt-Frumos with the Golden Hair
    Fat-Frumos with the Golden Hair
    Făt-Frumos with the Golden Hair or The Foundling Prince is a Romanian fairy tale collected by Petre Ispirescu in Legende sau basmele românilor.-Synopsis:A hermit lived alone. One day, a box floated down the river to him...

    .

  • Friedrich Nietzsche
    Friedrich Nietzsche
    Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche was a 19th-century German philosopher, poet, composer and classical philologist...

    , in his influential work Thus Spoke Zarathustra
    Thus Spoke Zarathustra
    Thus Spoke Zarathustra: A Book for All and None is a philosophical novel by German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, composed in four parts between 1883 and 1885...

    , created the character of the hermit Zarathustra (named after the Zoroastrian
    Zoroastrianism
    Zoroastrianism is a religion and philosophy based on the teachings of prophet Zoroaster and was formerly among the world's largest religions. It was probably founded some time before the 6th century BCE in Greater Iran.In Zoroastrianism, the Creator Ahura Mazda is all good, and no evil...

     prophet
    Prophet
    In religion, a prophet, from the Greek word προφήτης profitis meaning "foreteller", is an individual who is claimed to have been contacted by the supernatural or the divine, and serves as an intermediary with humanity, delivering this newfound knowledge from the supernatural entity to other people...

     Zarathushtra
    Zoroaster
    Zoroaster , also known as Zarathustra , was a prophet and the founder of Zoroastrianism who was either born in North Western or Eastern Iran. He is credited with the authorship of the Yasna Haptanghaiti as well as the Gathas, hymns which are at the liturgical core of Zoroastrianism...

    ), who emerges from seclusion to extol his philosophy to the rest of humanity.

  • In Star Wars
    Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope
    Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, originally released as Star Wars, is a 1977 American epic space opera film, written and directed by George Lucas. It is the first of six films released in the Star Wars saga: two subsequent films complete the original trilogy, while a prequel trilogy completes the...

    , Ben Kenobi was first introduced to the audience as an old hermit, often seen by most of the in-universe characters at their surroundings as a very dangerous, crazy wizard. Later in the story it was to be revealed that he went into exile for political reasons, although it also served him for spiritual training since he was a warrior monk in his youth, and that his first name was actually Obi-Wan. Yoda
    Yoda
    Yoda is a fictional character in the Star Wars universe, appearing in the second and third original films, as well as all three prequel trilogy films. A renowned Jedi master, Yoda made his first on-screen appearance in Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back where he is responsible for...

    , another Jedi
    Jedi
    The Jedi are characters in the Star Wars universe and the series's main protagonists. The Jedi use a power called the Force and weapons called lightsabers, which emit a controlled energy flow in the shape of a sword, in order to serve and protect the Republic and the galaxy at large from conflict...

    , was also originally portrayed as a wizard or hermit.

  • In the Friday the 13th series, the character Jason Voorhees
    Jason Voorhees
    Jason Voorhees is a fictional character from the Friday the 13th series of slasher films. He first appeared in Friday the 13th , as the son of camp cook-turned-murderer, Mrs. Voorhees, in which he was portrayed by Ari Lehman. Created by Victor Miller, with contributions by Ron Kurz, Sean S...

     was believed to have died after he drowned as a child. However, this later changed when it was revealed that he survived and lived life as a hermit – only to enter a murderous rage when he witnesses the death of his mother seemingly years later (which was during the events of the original film).

  • In the popular anime Dragon Ball, a martial-arts master named Muten Roshi is often referred to as a Turtle Hermit, despite the fact that over the course of the series characters are often visiting or even living in his island home.

  • Monty Python
    Monty Python
    Monty Python was a British surreal comedy group who created their influential Monty Python's Flying Circus, a British television comedy sketch show that first aired on the BBC on 5 October 1969. Forty-five episodes were made over four series...

     had a sketch about two hermits agreeing at the beginning "There's no point frigging your life in idleness and trivial chit-chats" but the conversation quickly degenerate into a gossip about their hermit neighbors and their caves as if it was an ordinary suburban gossip. It ends with the punchline: "It's still better, being a hermit, at least you meet people" – "Oh yes, I wouldn't go back to public relations."

See also


  • Desert Theology (Catholicism)
  • God: Sole Satisfier
    God: Sole Satisfier
    Sole Satisfier is a term in Christian theology which refers to God as the only one who can satisfy human beings. The terminology is based on the teachings of St...

  • Hermitage
    Hermitage (religious retreat)
    Although today's meaning is usually a place where a hermit lives in seclusion from the world, hermitage was more commonly used to mean a settlement where a person or a group of people lived religiously, in seclusion.-Western Christian Tradition:...

  • Hikikomori
    Hikikomori
    is a Japanese term to refer to the phenomenon of reclusive people who have chosen to withdraw from social life, often seeking extreme degrees of isolation and confinement because of various personal and social factors in their lives...

  • Into Great Silence
    Into Great Silence
    Into Great Silence is a documentary film directed by Philip Gröning that was first released in 2005. It is an intimate portrayal of the everyday lives of Carthusian monks of the Grande Chartreuse, high in the French Alps . The idea for the film was proposed to the monks in 1984, but the...

    (documentary)
  • Lavra
    Lavra
    In Orthodox Christianity and certain other Eastern Christian communities Lavra or Laura originally meant a cluster of cells or caves for hermits, with a church and sometimes a refectory at the center...

    , (cluster of cells for hermits)
  • Loner
    Loner
    A loner is a person who avoids or does not actively seek human interaction or prefers to be alone. There are many reasons for solitude, intentional or otherwise, and "loner" implies no specific cause. Intentional reasons include spiritual and religious considerations or personal philosophies...

  • Monasticism
    Monasticism
    Monasticism is a religious way of life characterized by the practice of renouncing worldly pursuits to fully devote one's self to spiritual work...

  • New Monasticism
    New Monasticism
    New Monasticism, or Neomonasticism, can refer either to a modern movement within Evangelical Protestant Christianity modelled on a monastic way of life in a contemporary context or a movement within Roman Catholicism to expand the way of life of traditional monastic communities to lay...

  • Our Lady the Garden Enclosed
    Our Lady the Garden Enclosed
    The Hermitage of Our Lady, the Garden Enclosed is situated in the former parish church of Warfhuizen, a village in the extreme north of the Netherlands. The name draws upon the traditional epithet for the Virgin Mary of hortus conclusus or enclosed garden.The hermitage was founded in 2001 as the...

     (hermitage)
  • Poustinia
    Poustinia
    A poustinia is a small sparsely furnished cabin or room where one goes to pray and fast alone in the presence of God. The word poustinia has its origin in the Russian word for desert...

  • Recluse
    Recluse
    A recluse is a person who lives in voluntary seclusion from the public and society, often close to nature. The word is from the Latin recludere, which means "shut up" or "sequester." There are many potential reasons for becoming a recluse: a personal philosophy that rejects consumer society; a...

  • Silence
    Silence
    Silence is the relative or total lack of audible sound. By analogy, the word silence may also refer to any absence of communication, even in media other than speech....

  • Skete
    Skete
    A Skete is a monastic style community that allows relative isolation for monks, but alsoallows for communal services and the safety of shared resources and protection...

     (monastic community)
  • Solitude
    Solitude
    Solitude is a state of seclusion or isolation, i.e., lack of contact with people. It may stem from bad relationships, deliberate choice, infectious disease, mental disorders, neurological disorders or circumstances of employment or situation .Short-term solitude is often valued as a time when one...

  • Stylites
    Stylites
    Stylites or Pillar-Saints are a type of Christian ascetic who in the early days of the Byzantine Empire stood on pillars preaching, fasting and praying. They believed that the mortification of their bodies would help ensure the salvation of their souls...



External links