Maybe a job for The Anchoress?
Switzerland’s “Katholisches Kirchenblatt,” a Catholic weekly, recently carried an unusual job ad: “Are you an idealistic, religious person who enjoys meeting people?”
The ad was placed by the small Alpine city of Solothurn. But Solothurn isn’t looking for a new social worker or priest. It is searching for a hermit.
The town’s hermitage, built into the rock face of a striking gorge, has been empty since March, when its resident hermit, and the first woman to hold the post since 1442, resigned after five years.
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.
The job of a hermit isn’t what it used to be. Tourists can easily reach once-secluded spots and modern technology makes it harder to escape friends and relatives—or strangers looking for advice on how to navigate life’s challenges. Today, many hermits live in city apartments or suburban row houses, often relying on the Internet to make a living or order groceries.