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Frequently Asked Questions
regarding
HERMITS.


Q. 1. What is a hermit? Do we have any in the Catholic Church?

A. 1. In summary, a hermit is a person who lives in seclusion from society such as the Carmelites and Camaldolese.

In Christianity, the term was originally applied to a Christian who lived the eremitic life out of a religious conviction, namely the Desert Theology of the Old Testament (i.e., the 40 years wandering in the desert that was meant to bring about a change of heart).

In the Christian tradition the heremitic life is an early form of monastic living that preceded the monastic life in the cenobium. The Rule of St Benedict (ch. 1) lists hermits among four kinds of monks. In the Roman Catholic Church, in addition to hermits who are members of religious institutes, contemporary Roman Catholic Church law (canon 603) recognizes also consecrated hermits under the direction of their diocesan bishop as members of the Consecrated Life ("consecrated diocesan hermits"). The same is true in many parts of the Anglican Communion, including the Episcopal Church in the US, although in the canon law of the Episcopal Church they are referred to as "solitaries" rather than "hermits".

Often, both in religious and secular literature, the term "hermit" is also used loosely for any Christian living a secluded prayer-focused life, and sometimes interchangeably with anchorite/anchoress, recluse and "solitary".



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