Help Wanted: Socially Outgoing Hermit

Pictured above is the Hermitage of St. Verena in Solothurn, Switzerland. A hermitage is the residence of a hermit, which is a religious vocation in the Catholic tradition. This one is a small house built into the face of a rocky gorge. It was built to honor St. Verena, a Fourth Century saint.

For several hundred years, hermits have lived there. Like other monks, they take vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. They're supposed to live solitary lives of devotion and labor. But the hermitage has become a popular tourist destination. So many people visit that the most recent hermit quit in frustration. The city is now looking for a new hermit. Specifically, its wants one who is a bit more extroverted. The Wall Street Journal reports:

Her complaint: People. The constant stream of tourists to the hermitage and neighboring chapel was just too much to handle, according to the city.

This time around, Solothurn has updated the job description. "Along with acting as caretaker and sacristan, responsibilities include interaction with the many visitors," the ad warns potential applicants.

"There's a bit of a discrepancy between the job title of hermit and the fact he or she has to deal with throngs of visitors," says Sergio Wyniger, the head of Solothurn's city council. So far, the city has received 119 applications and expects to make a decision by next week. […]

On top of keeping the gorge and adjacent chapels clean and tidy, the new hermit will have to help out with weddings and baptisms and dole out counsel for visitors suffering heartbreak or family trouble. In return, the city council will pay him or her 1,000 Swiss francs ($1,115) a month, along with free lodging in the wood-shingled hermitage. The hermit works for and is paid by the city of Solothurn.

Modern hermits are often publicly accessible. In fact, some use social media. Rachel Denton, a hermit in the UK, uses Facebook and Twitter as part of her work:

Since then, the former science teacher has taken to Facebook and Twitter, where she appears as @hermitrachel. Ms. Denton says she initially signed up to social media to pacify friends and family who wanted to stay in touch despite her seclusion.

"It's a lot easier than sending out 7,000 emails," says Ms. Denton.

-via @KevinNR | Photo: City of Solothurn

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