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Catholic Dictionary

Find accurate definitions of over 5,000 Catholic terms and phrases (including abbreviations). Based on Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.

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A person who dwells alone, devoting himself to prayer and meditation. Dating in Christianity from the early persecutions of the Church, hermits were already known in Old Testament times, as Elijah the Prophet and later St. John the Baptist. More numerous at the first in Egypt and Asia Minor, Christian hermits soon spread to the West, where eventually monasteries arose combining the eremitical life with the cenobitical, and isolated hermits were encouraged to form communities. (Etym. Latin eremita, from Greek er_mit_s, a dweller in the desert.)