Two paintings of interest on the Getty Museum Web site include Hubert Robert’s lush romantic Hermit Praying in the Ruins of a Roman Temple and Lorenzo Costa’s pen and ink depiction of the Thebaid in A Thebaid: Monks and Hermits in a Landscape.
For the Robert: http://www.getty.edu/art/collections/objects/o918.html.
For the Costa: http://www.getty.edu/art/collections/objects/o204.html.
The Sweets of Solitude by Amos Wilson, called the “Pennsylvania hermit,” was printed in Boston in 1822. The only copy of the book is in the Free Library of Philadelphia, and has been scanned and placed on the Web at http://www.seclusion.com. It can be downloaded in .doc format, the whole book being 21 pages. Yahoo! calls it a work of fiction, and surely the melodramatic account reads that way, but the Webmaster assures me that he toured the cave in Indian Echo Cavern, Pennsylvania, where Amos Wilson, a hermit calling himself a Christian, lived for 19 years.
Here are two wonderful collections of iconography at the Web site of a professor at Augusta State University, Georgia (USA) highlighting St. Paul the hermit and St. Antony the hermit. Both Web pages collect classic paintings featuring these two eremitic figures. For the St. Paul page, go to: http://www.aug.edu/augusta/iconography/paulHermit.html. For the St. Antony page, go to http://www.aug.edu/augusta/iconography/anthonyAbbot.html.
The Web site for a Canadian television series entitled Mystic Women of the Middle Ages, produced at McMaster University, features a “typical” young woman named Chrstine and her life and days in fifteenth century France. The live video, animation, and audio, are objectively done and informative. A segment entitled “The Anchorite” or “Anchoress” is included. The Web site for the series is http://mw.mcmaster.ca. The section called Christine’s Home Page is located at http://mw.mcmaster.ca/chrstine.html. To go directly to the Anchoress page, the Web address is: http://mw.mcmaster.ca/nunnery/anchorites.html
The Fellowship of Solitaries is an informal fellowship for Christian solitaries who do not seek formal status within a religious order but want to be informed and know that others share their avocation. The project has run fourteen years. Membership and a subscription Letter are inexpensive at 3 pounds, (5 outside the UK). Several publications of interest are offered, including a reprint of Rotha Mary Clay’s classic Hermits and Anchorites of England in a spiral binding. The Web site is: http://www.solitaries.org.uk
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.