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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 asceticismasceticism
, rejection of bodily pleasures through sustained self-denial and self-mortification, with the objective of strengthening spiritual life. Asceticism has been common in most major world religions, including Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, and Christianity: all of
..... Click the link for more information. ; St. AnthonyAnthony, Saint
, 251?–c.350, Egyptian hermit, called St. Anthony of Egypt and St. Anthony the Abbot. At the age of 20 he gave away his large inheritance and became a hermit.
..... Click the link for more information. of Egypt and St. Simeon StylitesSimeon Stylites, Saint
[Gr.,= of a pillar], d. 459?, Syrian hermit. He lived for more than 35 years on a small platform on top of a high pillar. He had many imitators (called stylites) and gained the reverence of the whole Christian world. Feast: Jan. 5.
..... Click the link for more information. 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 monasticismmonasticism
, form of religious life, usually conducted in a community under a common rule. Monastic life is bound by ascetical practices expressed typically in the vows of celibacy, poverty, and obedience, called the evangelical counsels.
..... Click the link for more information. 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 CarthusiansCarthusians
, small order of monks of the Roman Catholic Church [Lat. abbr.,=O. Cart.]. It was established by St. Bruno at La Grande Chartreuse (see Chartreuse, Grande) in France in 1084.
..... Click the link for more information. 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 RiwleAncren Riwle
or Ancrene Wisse
[Mid. Eng.,=anchoresses' rule], English tract written c.1200 by an anonymous English churchman for the instruction of three young ladies about to become religious recluses.
..... Click the link for more information. was written for English anchoresses. Juliana of NorwichJuliana of Norwich
, d. c.1443, English religious writer, an anchoress, or hermit, of Norwich called Mother (or Dame) Juliana or Julian. Her work, completed c.1393, Revelations of Divine Love, is an expression of mystical fervor in the form of 16 visions of Jesus.
..... Click the link for more information. was a famous English anchoress.
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one of the early Christian recluses
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