Brief Guardian article entitled “Laptops but no beards for new hermits” on the revival of eremitism in Italy and “on why Catholics are signing up to be hermits.”
In a brief somewwhat supercilious audio file entitled “The internet is OK but don’t muck around on YouTube” the writer expands on the topic.
A new book by Italian sociologist Isacco Turina describes a growing trend in Italy: women embracing eremitism to become hermits. A Telegraph article (and there are others) sums up the book:
Professor Isacco Turina, a sociologist at the University of Bologna, tracked down 37 hermits for his work: “The New Hermits, The Flight from the World in Modern Italy.”
He said there are now as many as 1000 hermits in Italy, with several hundred more dotted across Europe and the US.
Turino’s research showed that the women were usually in their fifties, that most had dropped out of convents because they were dissatisfied with some aspect of Catholic practice, and lived in their own apartments. The women hermits were often writers or artists who had quit the rate race sometime between their thirties and fifties.
Intriguing little report in the “Helsingin Sanomat” by Illka Malmberg entitled “Life and Death of an Urban Hermit.” Relates the story of a man who lived as a recluse in Helsinki and died unnoticed in his home, and of the long passage of time in which no one discovered the fact. While a common theme in local newspapers, presented with a macabre air, this piece is thoughtful and well-written, though as journalism without a solution to the premised problem. About the whole issue, the writer concludes reflectively:
Finland has its its share of rural hermits, often doubling as the village idiot or the local eccentric, and they have been left alone to live in peace.
Then when one day they are found dead by the postman or the meter-reader, the people living round about do not go beating their breasts and worrying about guilt and “what should we have done” – the deceased had lived the life he or she always wanted.
But hermits living in a big city are another matter altogether. We have yet to come to terms with the phenomenon, and this is the reason it makes news and causes people to ask if it “could have been prevented”, or if it is a reflection of our readiness to let the welfare nanny-state take on all social responsibilities for us, including “love thy neighbour”.