hermit

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hermit

hermit [Gr.,=desert], one who lives in solitude, especially from ascetic motives. Hermits are known in many cultures. Permanent solitude was common in ancient Christian asceticism; St. Anthony of Egypt and St. Simeon Stylites were noted hermits. Many extreme Franciscans (Spirituals) of the 13th and the 14th cent. were hermits, among them Pope St. Celestine. In the East the hermit, or eremetical, life was widely held to be the more perfect form of monasticism and was open only to those who had first passed years in a monastic community. Monasticism in the West developed along the less rigorous communal lines; the Carthusians are well-known exceptions. The hermit or anchorite of the ancient church lived in the desert, commonly walled up in a cell with only a window. In medieval Europe the cell usually connected with a church. The Ancren Riwle was written for English anchoresses. Juliana of Norwich was a famous English anchoress.
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hermit

one of the early Christian recluses
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
Jerome tells us that the Bedouins venerated Ilarion the Anachorite (291-371) who had converted them to Christianity.
Gibbon indulges the fullness of his contempt for the monstrosity of Christian asceticism, which, he believed, inverts the moral order of ordinary human life and replaces simple goodness with the worship of misery, where eternal happiness is said to await: "inspired by the savage enthusiasm, which represents man as a criminal, and God as a tyrant," the monks, hermits, and anachorites in their holy frenzy debased themselves not just to inhuman depths but even to the anti-human nadir.
There are certain obvious exceptions to this general rule of thumb: Kafka's later ironic tale "Ein Hungerkunstler," as well as narratives of illness (especially tuberculosis) or of religious deprivation about anachorites and martyrs.