Hermit

(Gr. eremmitems from eremmia = desert). A person seeking to please God who voluntarily adopts the solitary religious life. Within the early Church of Egypt, Christian hermits first appeared in the third century—e.g., Antony.* They lived in desert areas. Their fame was widespread, and many came both to see and to emulate them, so that in the next few centuries the number of hermits vastly increased. Some lived alone, others maintained their solitude in a community of hermits—e.g., the famous Augustinian Hermits.* Since the Counter- Reformation in the sixteenth century, hermits have disappeared from the Western Church, though their tradition is still partly retained in such religious orders as the Carthusians. The Eastern Orthodox Churches still have hermits.