Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States
   A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z

Could Your Grace please tell us about hermits and the extraordinary things they do such as celebrating Divine Liturgy or Midnight Praises?

Hermit: The word itself is derived from the Greek word "eremia," which means desert. A Hermit is a monk who desires to live in solitude with God. Christian hermits first began to abide in Egypt and gained popularity during the third century. After that, the movement spread to the surrounding regions and different countries.

Monasticism itself is based on those who are devoted to worship. There are three types of Monastic Systems:
a) Solitude: a state of seclusion in a cell or cave. A monk who lives in a cell or cave is known as a hermit.
b) Coenobitic discipline where monks may choose to live together, participating in some prayers and eat together.
c) Communal Order: Groups of monks live together having the same spiritual father. They reside in separate cells apart from one another. They usually meet together weekly, on Saturdays and Sundays.
So the hermits are those who have reached a higher order than the monks. They would leave the monastery to live in solitude in unknown places outside of the monastery and would come back to the monastery from time to time to attend liturgies. The anchorites are those who grow in solitude living in the wilderness, in places unknown to us where they would spend years without seeing or meeting any human being. Abba Paula spent eighty years without seeing a person; also Abba Paemon spent sixty nine years, Abba Karas spent seventy five years. Like any Christian; these anchorites need to have Communion and partake of the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. For this reason, as you mentioned, it has been reported that some priests and laymen have heard praises and seen signs of the presence of anchorites officiating liturgies in some churches.

Reference books about hermits and those who sought this way of life include: 1) the Southern Diocese Website: Link-HH Pope Shenouda; 2) The Paradise of the Holy Fathers, 3) The Desert A City (Chitty), and 4) The Fathers Speak (Barrois).
Home | Ask A Question | Search Q&A