This private (i.e., non-canonical) Catholic order of solitaries (which includes Eastern and Western rite) offers a reflective Web site with representative passages on the eremitic life. The site is at the free host, Tripod, but don’t let the pop-up ads deter a pleasant visit. The site was called to our attention by the Webmaster, and we shall pursue it in more detail due to its apparent spread throughout Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and the Americas. The graphics, original to the Order, are especially interesting. The Web site is: http://www.anchorhold.tripod.com (Corrected entry on June 12.)
NOTE: The site has closed. We have no further information about it.
The recluse as a poetic device is featured in poet David Budbill’s book, which he discusses in an NPR interview. From the Web page: “Host Lisa Simeone talks with Vermont poet David Budbill, who reads from his book, Moment To Moment: Poems Of A Mountain Recluse. Budbill’s ‘recluse’ is Judevine Mountain, named after the mountain on which Budbill lives.” Program Web site: http://discover.npr.org/features/feature.jhtml?wfId=1120825.
The April 2003 issue of Harper’s magazine includes a short item by an applicant (real?) to the Shugborough, the English manor which advertised for an ornamental hermit, as described in a previous entry here. Unfortunately, the article is not available online, but here is a brief excerpt:
I would honestly try to share my love of silence, encouraging people to seek quiet in their lives. I would share stories from the Desert Fathers and other Western traditions of seeking God in solitude. Yet I would also guard the idea of solitude and avoid frivolous speech. At times I’d run away from people or hide in the bushes, maybe pretend not to be the hermit. Given the opportunity, I’d scoff at would-be disciples and give them nearly impossible tasks to test their commitment.
No author is ascribed to this little item, but appropriately so.
Although it does not allude to hermits as such (it mentions Thoreau’s 150 square foot house and George Bernard Shaw’s little writing cottage), this Web site will be of interest to anyone who wants to build or identify a small house in various materials. There is a resources page and a news page.
The Web site is: http://www.resourcesforlife.com/groups/smallhousesociety/
Shugborough, an 18th-century estate of 900 acres in Staffordshire, England, advertised for an ornamental hermit in the summer of 2002 and received over 200 applications from around the world. The winner, Ansuman Biswas of London, spent a weekend in the cave of the premises, and was on display as an ornamental hermit at select times for visitors. The press release contains details. The custom of maintaining a hermit to amuse or frighten guests of estates was not uncommon in the eighteenth century England, and presumably it garnered a little tourist traffic for the shire and the Museum which sponsored the Hermit Project as part of its Heritage Week events. Press release at: http://www.staffordshire.gov.uk/live/welcome.asp?id=1673. Enter “hermit” in the search box to get to the specific page.
The audio of an NPR All Things Considered interview from October 31, 2001 is still available on the NPR Web site. Linda Wertheimer talks with Sister Marion Madden, the Vicar for Religious in the Diocese of Wheeling, West Virginia, about the role of hermits in modern life and the Catholic Church. There are eight hermits in her diocese; their life revolves around prayer and the interior life. The interview is about four and a half minutes long. The Web link is: http://discover.npr.org/features/feature.jhtml?wfId=1132429
The Maronite Hermits: From The Fourth To The Twentieth Century is an attractive introduction to the Syriac Lebanese tradition of Christian eremiticism. The page is from the Web version of the Maronite Research Institute’s Journal of Maronite Studies, October, 1999, and includes brief summaries of St. Maron, the first male and female Maronite hermits, quotations from original sources, some geographical context, consideration of the hermits under monastic rule, and several photographs. The Web page is: http://www.mari.org/JMS/october99/The_Maronite_Hermits.htm
A scholarly conference entitled Anchorites, Wombs and Tombs, on medieval anchorites and the social and gender context of enclosure in medieval Britain was held July 5-7, 2002 at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth. Topics included Ancrene Wisse, linguistics, mysticism, hagiography, and gender issues. Web site for proceedings is: http://www.aber.ac.uk/english/conferences/wtprog.htm.