Catholic hermits today

Catholic World Report offers a summary article on Catholic hermits titled “Modern-Day Hermits: Answering the Call to Solitude, Prayer” and the byline: “While we might think of hermits as relics of the Church’s medieval past, today there are many who devote their lives entirely to solitary prayer.” The article emphasizes canonical hermits and the traditionalist hermit brothers at Hermits of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel in Christoval, Texas.


Viktor, Siberian hermit

Siberian hermit Viktor

Reuters features a photographer’s blog entry by Ilya Namushin highlighting Viktor, a Siberian hermit living near the Yenisai River. Though affable, Viktor revealed few personal details about his motive and past except to indicate that he once was a bargeman.

Viktor is 57 and lives alone in a small hut that he made himself. He doesn’t only live there over the summer, but during the harsh Siberian winter too. He told me that he feels weak in the winter because the forest doesn’t give him energy then; he says the forest is resting. Therefore, Viktor rests too during the winter. He eats fish, mushrooms, and berries that he saves up during the warm season. If he’s ill, he treats himself with wild medicinal grasses, which he collects in the woods.

Despite being a hermit, Viktor is by no means unsociable. He does not mind kind visitors, and local fishermen and tourists come to see him every once in a while. He also crosses the wide Yenisei River from time to time to sell fish and buy essentials, like flour, salt, matches, and gasoline for his boat’s motor.

On the western bank of the Yenisei River there is a road and people come and go. On the eastern bank, where Viktor lives, there is nothing. No signs of civilization: no roads, no electricity lines, no buildings. Only steep, rocky banks and untouched forest.

Includes several photographs.


Grindstaff, Tennessee hermit

A local Tennessee media source, the Johnson City Press, offers an article about Nick Grindstaff, a famous local hermit who lived near the Appalachian Trail, and whose grave site will receive a new gravestone due to the efforts of local residents. The article describes the hermit, his life, motives, and woes.

From the article:

The epitaph on Grindstaff’s tombstone has a lot to do with preserving his memory. It reads that the hermit “lived alone, suffered alone, died alone.” It is carved in granite along with the name “Uncle Nick Grindstaff” and giving his birth as Dec. 26, 1851 and death on July 22, 1923. The stone is encased in a chimney-like structure made of mountain stones standing more than 6 feet tall. A pamphlet written about Grindstaff by his friends Asa Shoun and R.B. Wilson reports that the gravestone was purchased shortly after Grindstaff’s death. They paid $208.07 for the stone to honor their friend.


Rachel Denton, UK hermit

Rachel Denton, UK hermit

A BBC “Religion and Ethics” item updates the hermit life of Rachel Denton, first mentioned in this blog in a Guardian article from 2009. Rachel Denton lives in Lincolnshire, UK. “A teacher for 15 years, culminating in a deputy headship in Cambridgeshire, Rachel gave it all up 12 years ago for a life of contemplative silence as a Roman Catholic hermit.” She is a canonical hermit in the diocese of Nottingham. The article highlights her life and interests, including her use of social media.

She has three rules for her life as a hermit.

One is to live simply in solitude and silence, staying and returning there in so far as duties permit.

The second is to earn a sufficient living, trying to maintain that solitude and silence. And the third is to pray every day.

Much of her work and contact with family and friends can be carried out online.

While practical reasons take her out and about, normally at least once a week, she can also go for days without speaking and says solitude gives her energy and happiness.