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Hermitage St. Verena in Solothurn

A Hermitage , Hermitage or Ermitage ( French ermitage [ ɛʁmitaʒ ]), sometimes referred to as Eremo called, is a place of contemplation . Hermits or hermits , who can be clergy or lay people , lead a secluded life of prayer in often secluded halls and chapels .

historical development

Hermitism is one of the oldest forms of consecrated life in Christianity and is also the earliest form of Christian monasticism in Europe. The first hermits lived in remote places, for example in caves or old forts. The first hermit in the Middle Ages is considered to be Jesus Christ , who spent 40 days as a cloister in the desert. St. During the Diocletian persecution of Christians, Antonius founded the first communities of Christian anchorites , more or less loose associations of hermits living apart. In contrast, through the initiative of St. Pachomios , a younger Egyptian hermit, founded the first Christian monasteries around 320 to 325 in which the monks lived and worked together. A kind of hybrid form are the Carthusian monasteries , in which the cells of many hermits come together around a common facility. Many monasteries of semi-Semitic orders such as the Discalced Carmelite Sisters have a hermitage on the monastery grounds.

Modern Klausen

Hermits are still inhabited by hermits, for example the Hermitage of Our Lady of the Closed Garden , consecrated in 2001 in Warfhuizen ( Netherlands ), the northernmost Marian pilgrimage site in Europe. The hermitage Klus Ednahm is located near Borgentreich in the Höxter district. The hermitage of Sankt Verena in the Verena Gorge near Solothurn is well known in Switzerland. In the Roman Catholic Church , hermitism is one of the forms of consecrated life recognized by the Church . After the Second Vatican Council and the resulting revision of canon law , the church incorporated into canon law the form of life of the diocesan hermit , who is subordinate to the local bishop .

A special hermitage, which experts consider to be unique north of the Alps, is the " Felseneremitage " in the local community of Bretzenheim an der Nahe, a place of worship that was built in prehistoric times and was completely carved into the rock, which was rededicated in early Christian times. An early church is first mentioned in 1043. The 90 m² apartment in the rock, which is still accessible today, was at times the home of several hermits and the convent of a rock monastery. Between 1716 and 1827 hermits lived there, who after a long vacancy had again established a place of pilgrimage that is well known far beyond the borders. The last hermit died in 1827 after 51 years of hermit life at the age of 82.

Female clauses

The women's hermitage or sister collection , or hermitage for short , of the European early and high Middle Ages was a community of women who had dedicated their lives to the service of God and lived according to the evangelical counsels , mostly based on a monastery of religious men and under his protection .

The living and working buildings of the women were closed off from the outside world and the monastery of the friars by walls. The rules of life followed those of the monastery. From a hermitage (Latin also inclusorium or inclusion ), as in the case of St. Hildegard von Bingen or the Ulrichsklause in Würzburg develop an independent convent.

Courtly garden art

In the 16th century, the Hermitage was discovered for court gardening and became a place of secular reflection. Since the 18th century, hermitages have mostly only been used as visual design elements. A phenomenon of the 18th and early 19th centuries were the decorative hermits , commercial " hermits " who lived for a contractually agreed period in the hermitages set up especially for them and showed themselves to the park owners and their guests at certain times of the day to entertain their sight. This marked the step from a place of spiritual calm through the nature park to the amusement park. In English landscape gardens - such as the Wörlitzer Park, which was laid out in the 18th century, or the Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe ( Kassel ) - artificial grottos and waterfalls were built, artificial ruins and Roman temples, Moorish courtyards, Chinese pagodas, alpine huts and many other ornamental buildings were built.

In 1775, Catherine II had the foundation stone laid for a small hermitage next to the Winter Palace in order to retire here for prayer. The new St. Petersburg Hermitage built next door, however, is not a hermitage, but a painting exhibition.

The hermitage on Potsdam's Jungfernsee , built in 1796 and now dilapidated , was rebuilt in 2007. In 1877 King Ludwig II had the hermitage of Gurnemanz built in Ettal's Linderhof Palace based on a set from Richard Wagner's opera Parsifal . After it fell into disrepair, it has now been reconstructed in the palace gardens.

Civil hermits

Civil Hermitage in Creußen

Civil hermitages were seldom organized. Most of the authors came from the educated middle class. The only preserved hermit's house is the Hermitage in Creußen , built in 1760 by the theologian Johann Theodor Künneth .

Well-known hermitages

Various other complexes bear the name Hermitage , but are not inhabited by hermits:




  • Christian Hlavac: Hermits in early Central European landscape gardens . In: Die Gartenkunst 1/2020, pp. 79–94.

Web links

Commons : Hermitages  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Commons : Hermitages (religious retreats)  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Hermitage  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Peter von Gengenbach. In: Author's Lexicon . Volume VII, Col. 434.