Hermits:form of blessing, etc

APPENDICES
A. Form for blessing a hermit
B. Form for enclosure of an anchorite
C. The 'Ancrene Riwle' (rule for anchoresses)
D. The Eighth Reading from Rolle Officum.
E. Foxe’s Account of “Hermit of Thirsk”
F. Chronological Distribution
G. Hermit Poetry
H Aelred’s “Letter to his Sister
APPENDICES
a. The Benediction of a hermit (or widow)
b. The Enclosure of an anchorite.
c. The Ancrene Wisse.
d. Richard and Margaret: a Lesson from Rolle’s Legenda.
e. “The Hermit of Thirsk”
f. Chronological distribution.
g.. Hermit poetry.
[i. Latin Texts of a and b.
j. “Rule for Anchorites”
k. Aelred’s Letter to his sister ].
INDICES
i. Names
ii. Paces
Bibliography
A. OFFICE FOR THE BENEDICTION OF HERMITS (and Widows)
(According to the Rule of St. Paul)
My translation of the Latin rite is from a sixteenth century Pontifical used in the
diocese of London (and perhaps Durham), printed in R.M. Clay: The Hermits and
Anchorites of England (London, 1904), Appendix B (pp. 199-202. The whole was
used for hermits following the so-called Rule of St. Paul while the first part, with
appropriate changes of gender, was used for the profession of vowesses. Words
printed within square brackets [...] are not represented in the original.
[Introduction]
The form and manner whereby a man, having been in his heart turnedi from the world
may make his profession as a hermit to the bishop (or his commissary). This
profession should be formalised on some ecclesiastical feast-day [i.e. Holy Day]
designated as the occasion when it will take placeii. On this day, the bishop (vested in
the customary manner for the celebration of High Mass) shall proceed with the
celebration until just before the Gospel.
[The Ceremonies within the Mass]
Then, during the singing of the Alleluia, Tract or Sequence which precedes the
Gospel, the would-be hermit should come forward in a devout manner, dressed in the
conventional habit and carrying over his left arm the scapulariii or other garment
suitable to the hermit's vocation. He should advance, with bare feet, as far as the
altar stepiv and there kneel before the feet of the bishop (or his commissary).
Immediately [after the singing of the Gospel?] the bishop and those standing round
him [in the quire and presbytery] should sing antiphonally the psalm "Miserere mei
Deus, secundum magnam misericordiam tuam"v, followed by the doxology (Glory be
to the Father…).
[Instruction]
When the psalm is finished the bishop, from his chairvi, should speak to the postulant
about the intention to be chaste and examine him about [his understanding of] the
implications of the Rulevii which he is about to accept and the necessity of making a
public profession of his intention. He should also discuss all the matters which to
him seem relevant to the spiritual health of the postulant.
[Profession]
When all this has been done in the light of godly fear the postulant should read his
profession aloud or, if he be unable to read [Latin], he should repeat it after the
bishop. Then the bishop, from his throne, should turn towards the congregationviii
and repeat the profession after the following form:
“I, (name of postulant), unmarriedix, make a vow and promise to God, blessed Mary,
and to all the saints, in the presence of the reverend father in Christ (name of bishop)
of perpetual chastity in accordance with the Rule of St. Paul”.
Then the professed should mark the end of the written vow with the sign of the cross
and hand the document to the bishop before lying prostrate while the bishop says the
following prayers over him:
" Let us pray.
Almighty God, we beseech Thee to be present with this thy servant
(Name) who renounces the pompsx of the world. Open the gates of thy grace to one
who has fled from the despised devil (to fight) under the banner of Christ. Bid him
come to thee to be received with a welcoming countenance so that the enemy might
not triumph over him. Grant him the tireless support of thine arm. Armour his mind
with the breastplatexi of faith that in purity, fortified by thy fortunate defence, he may
rejoice to have escaped the enemy. Through...[Jesus Christ our Lord who with Thee
in the unity of the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth one God for ever and ever.]
Let us pray.
O God who made the children of Israel to sojourn forty years in the desert solitude
when you gave them manna for food, and also brought it about that thy Son lived like
a hermit for forty days and forty nights, and also hast shown thyself pleased that
prophets and saints passed time in the desert, be gracious to thy servant .N. who after
his fashion has chosen a similar kind of life by assuming the hermit's vocation, (grant)
that he may change his behaviour to what is seemly and become fitted by
perseverance to his profession so that he may attain perfection in this way of life and
be worthy to the joys of those made perfect. Through the same...[Jesus Christ etc.] "
The blessing of the habit follows:
V." The Lord be with you”.
R. “And with thy spirit”.
"Let us pray.
O God whose promises of everlasting good things never fail and who art our ever
reliable suretyxii and hast promised to thy faithful the vesture of salvation and the
apparel of joyxiii, we humbly beseech thy clemency that these garments may be a
symbol of a humble heart and contempt for the world by which thy servant gives
visible form to his holy purpose. Vouchsafe, of thy grace, to bl+essxiv them so that he
may maintain through thy protection the habit of chastity that he has put on and that
he whom thou hast dressed in the habit of a revered profession may be forever clothed
in blessed immortality. Through our Lord Jesus Christ who with Thee in the unity of
the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth one God for ever and ever.
O God, the giver of all good things and the generous dispenser of all blessings, hear
our prayers so that this garment with which thy servant clothes himself as a sign of his
dedicated chastity, you may vouchsafe to bl+ess and make holy to the praise and
glory of thy holy name. Through Christ our Lord”.
R. “Amen”.
[The vesting]
Then the bishop sprinkles the garment with holy water and then gives it to the hermit
and as he puts it on he [the celebrant] says:
“May the Lord strip off from thee the old man and clothe thee with the new man who
according to God is created in righteousness and true holiness”.
R. “Thanks be to God".
Then the bishop speaks the following words to the professed if he is lettered [i.e.
knows Latin], otherwise he gives them in the mother tongue:
"Brotherxv, behold we have bestowed upon you the dress of a hermit and, together
with it, we admonish you to live in purity, sobriety and holiness. Pass your time in
vigilsxvi, in fasting, in work and prayer, and in the works of mercyxvii so that you may
possess eternal life and so live for ever and ever. Amen."
To which the 'conversus' xviiimakes this reply devoutly upon his knees:
"And I, reverend father, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ receive this habit,
promising as far as in me lies to devote myself to God and, aided by the grace of God
and the kindly prayer of his saints, to follow your precepts faithfully".
[Blessing and Invocation of Holy Spirit]
Then the conversus prostrates himself while the bishop says the following prayers
over him.
"Let us pray.
Defend, O Lord, with thy due compassion this thy servant that he may ever preserve
intact the vow which by thy inspiration he has undertaken. Through our Lord...
Let us pray.
Attend to our prayers, O Lord, that you may vouchsafe to bless this thy servant whom
in thy holy name we have clothed in the religious habit. Grant, of thy generosity, that
he may both stand devout and steadfast in thy Churchxix and also that he may be
worthy to attain eternal life. Through the same..."
Then the bishop, turning towards the East,xx shall intone this hymn:
"Come thou Creator Spirit..."xxi
(The above form may be used thus far for the blessing of widowsxxii).
[The vocation of a hermit was more difficult, with particular trials and a special rule,
and so the order for the blessing of hermits continues with:]
[More Prayers & Blessings]
Then is said [sung]
"Lord have mercy.
Christ have mercy.
Lord have mercy.
Our Father....trespass against us
V. And lead us not into temptation
R. But deliver us from evil. Amen.
V. Grant salvation to thy servant.
R. Who puts his hope in thee, my God.
V. O Lord, send him help from thy holy place
R. And salvation out of Zion.
V. Lord, be to him a tower of strength
R. From the face of his enemy.
V. Lord hear my prayer
R. And let my cry come unto thee.
V. The Lord be with you.
R. And with thy spirit.
C. “Let us pray.
Almighty God, we beseech thee be attentive to thy servant who trusts in thy mercy
and keep him under thy protection so that, freed from all adversities, he may be found
worthy of everlasting blessing. Through Christ the Lord.
O God who restores the offender to righteousness and does not desire the death of a
sinner, we humbly beseech thy majesty that thou protect thy servant .N. who trusts in
thy heavenly mercy. Of thy goodness keep him safe by thy unceasing defence that he
may always remain thy servant and never be separated from thee by any temptation.
Through Christ the Lord.
Almighty and ever-living God have mercy on thy servant and guide him according to
thy kindness in the way of eternal salvation so that, giving himself to thee, he may
desire what pleases thee and bring to perfection every virtue".
Then turning to the conversus, he says
“And may almighty God bless thee and grant thee the grace to live well (in this life)
and bring thee to the life eternal. Through Christ..."
Then the bishop blesses the conversus as he kneels [before him] in these words:
"May almighty God bless thee: Fat + her, Son + , and Holy + Spirit."
[The crosses in the text indicate the threefold sign of the cross made over the kneeling
hermit]
[Instruction on the Rule of St. Paul]
But before the hermit goes away he should be given an exposition of the general lifestyle
of a hermit with some mention of the particular observances that he personally is
to follow.
Firstly, the bishop should enjoin him openly and publiclyxxiii to say the Lord's Prayer,
the Ave Maria and the [Apostles'] Creed so that they might be heard clearly by
everyone [in the xxivchurch?].
Then the bishop should give him instructions about the way in which he should say his
equivalent to the Church's monastic Hoursxxv and the number of prayers which he
should devoutly offer for the salvation of his soul and that of each of his
benefactorsxxvi, namely:
For Vespers he should say the Lord's Prayer twenty times and the same number of
Hail Marys..
His Compline should consist of thirteen Our Fathers and the same number of Hail
Marys.
For his Matins he should repeat both these prayers thirty times; for Lauds, fifteen and
for Prime, twenty-four.
For the other Hours, namely Terce, Sext and Nones, he should repeat them fifteen
times as a substitute for each.
[Like the religious houses, the hermit was held to have a responsibility of praying for
the departed and so he is enjoined:]
On weekdays for his 'Placebo', fifty Our Fathers and Hail Marys; for 'Dirige', thirtythree;
for 'Commendation' twenty-four.xxvii
He should also repeat the Creed thirteen times every day and every nightxxviii and hear
Mass daily.xxix
If the hermit can read [Latin] then he is to say the Hours of the Blessed Virgin
Maryxxx with the seven psalmsxxxi, also the Litanyxxxii with the 'Placebo' and 'Dirige' for
the departed. In addition, he should append to each of these 'Hours' three
Paternosters and three Aves, together with half a Nocturn.xxxiii
In place of the above, the hermit may recite the entire psalter once a day.xxxiv
Because idleness is an enemy of the soul and to prevent the devil's discovering him
without an occupation, the hermit is to provide himself with manual work to fill the
time when he is not at prayer. This may involve the production of food or the
maintenance and repair of roads and bridges.xxxv
During the season of Advent and in the forty and ten daysxxxvi before Pentecost, he
must abstain from meat so that at the end of those fasts he might make his
communionxxxvii after first going to confession. On all Wednesdays he should eat fish
or milk-products [i.e. no meat] while on Fridays he must fast on bread and water
unless he is granted a dispensationxxxviii on account of serious illness or overwork. He
should also fast on Saturdays, satisfying himself with fish.
The wearing of linen [underclothes] is not permitted to hermits (except for the
provision of 'leg-warmers'xxxix. Their footwear is limited to shoes/sandals and they
are not allowed boots.
When his formal ecclesiastical dress has been bestowed by the bishop's arrangement,
then let the hermit depart [to his hermitage] in peace and in the name of the Lord.
APPENDICES
A. Form for blessing a hermit
B. Form for enclosure of an anchorite
C. The 'Ancrene Riwle' (rule for anchoresses)
D. The Eighth Reading from Rolle Officum.
E. Foxe’s Account of “Hermit of Thirsk”
F. Chronological Distribution
G. Hermit Poetry
H Aelred’s “Letter to his Sister
APPENDICES
a. The Benediction of a hermit (or widow)
b. The Enclosure of an anchorite.
c. The Ancrene Wisse.
d. Richard and Margaret: a Lesson from Rolle’s Legenda.
e. “The Hermit of Thirsk”
f. Chronological distribution.
g.. Hermit poetry.
[i. Latin Texts of a and b.
j. “Rule for Anchorites”
k. Aelred’s Letter to his sister ].
INDICES
i. Names
ii. Paces
Bibliography
A. OFFICE FOR THE BENEDICTION OF HERMITS (and Widows)
(According to the Rule of St. Paul)
My translation of the Latin rite is from a sixteenth century Pontifical used in the
diocese of London (and perhaps Durham), printed in R.M. Clay: The Hermits and
Anchorites of England (London, 1904), Appendix B (pp. 199-202. The whole was
used for hermits following the so-called Rule of St. Paul while the first part, with
appropriate changes of gender, was used for the profession of vowesses. Words
printed within square brackets [...] are not represented in the original.
[Introduction]
The form and manner whereby a man, having been in his heart turnedi from the world
may make his profession as a hermit to the bishop (or his commissary). This
profession should be formalised on some ecclesiastical feast-day [i.e. Holy Day]
designated as the occasion when it will take placeii. On this day, the bishop (vested in
the customary manner for the celebration of High Mass) shall proceed with the
celebration until just before the Gospel.
[The Ceremonies within the Mass]
Then, during the singing of the Alleluia, Tract or Sequence which precedes the
Gospel, the would-be hermit should come forward in a devout manner, dressed in the
conventional habit and carrying over his left arm the scapulariii or other garment
suitable to the hermit's vocation. He should advance, with bare feet, as far as the
altar stepiv and there kneel before the feet of the bishop (or his commissary).
Immediately [after the singing of the Gospel?] the bishop and those standing round
him [in the quire and presbytery] should sing antiphonally the psalm "Miserere mei
Deus, secundum magnam misericordiam tuam"v, followed by the doxology (Glory be
to the Father…).
[Instruction]
When the psalm is finished the bishop, from his chairvi, should speak to the postulant
about the intention to be chaste and examine him about [his understanding of] the
implications of the Rulevii which he is about to accept and the necessity of making a
public profession of his intention. He should also discuss all the matters which to
him seem relevant to the spiritual health of the postulant.
[Profession]
When all this has been done in the light of godly fear the postulant should read his
profession aloud or, if he be unable to read [Latin], he should repeat it after the
bishop. Then the bishop, from his throne, should turn towards the congregationviii
and repeat the profession after the following form:
“I, (name of postulant), unmarriedix, make a vow and promise to God, blessed Mary,
and to all the saints, in the presence of the reverend father in Christ (name of bishop)
of perpetual chastity in accordance with the Rule of St. Paul”.
Then the professed should mark the end of the written vow with the sign of the cross
and hand the document to the bishop before lying prostrate while the bishop says the
following prayers over him:
" Let us pray.
Almighty God, we beseech Thee to be present with this thy servant
(Name) who renounces the pompsx of the world. Open the gates of thy grace to one
who has fled from the despised devil (to fight) under the banner of Christ. Bid him
come to thee to be received with a welcoming countenance so that the enemy might
not triumph over him. Grant him the tireless support of thine arm. Armour his mind
with the breastplatexi of faith that in purity, fortified by thy fortunate defence, he may
rejoice to have escaped the enemy. Through...[Jesus Christ our Lord who with Thee
in the unity of the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth one God for ever and ever.]
Let us pray.
O God who made the children of Israel to sojourn forty years in the desert solitude
when you gave them manna for food, and also brought it about that thy Son lived like
a hermit for forty days and forty nights, and also hast shown thyself pleased that
prophets and saints passed time in the desert, be gracious to thy servant .N. who after
his fashion has chosen a similar kind of life by assuming the hermit's vocation, (grant)
that he may change his behaviour to what is seemly and become fitted by
perseverance to his profession so that he may attain perfection in this way of life and
be worthy to the joys of those made perfect. Through the same...[Jesus Christ etc.] "
The blessing of the habit follows:
V." The Lord be with you”.
R. “And with thy spirit”.
"Let us pray.
O God whose promises of everlasting good things never fail and who art our ever
reliable suretyxii and hast promised to thy faithful the vesture of salvation and the
apparel of joyxiii, we humbly beseech thy clemency that these garments may be a
symbol of a humble heart and contempt for the world by which thy servant gives
visible form to his holy purpose. Vouchsafe, of thy grace, to bl+essxiv them so that he
may maintain through thy protection the habit of chastity that he has put on and that
he whom thou hast dressed in the habit of a revered profession may be forever clothed
in blessed immortality. Through our Lord Jesus Christ who with Thee in the unity of
the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth one God for ever and ever.
O God, the giver of all good things and the generous dispenser of all blessings, hear
our prayers so that this garment with which thy servant clothes himself as a sign of his
dedicated chastity, you may vouchsafe to bl+ess and make holy to the praise and
glory of thy holy name. Through Christ our Lord”.
R. “Amen”.
[The vesting]
Then the bishop sprinkles the garment with holy water and then gives it to the hermit
and as he puts it on he [the celebrant] says:
“May the Lord strip off from thee the old man and clothe thee with the new man who
according to God is created in righteousness and true holiness”.
R. “Thanks be to God".
Then the bishop speaks the following words to the professed if he is lettered [i.e.
knows Latin], otherwise he gives them in the mother tongue:
"Brotherxv, behold we have bestowed upon you the dress of a hermit and, together
with it, we admonish you to live in purity, sobriety and holiness. Pass your time in
vigilsxvi, in fasting, in work and prayer, and in the works of mercyxvii so that you may
possess eternal life and so live for ever and ever. Amen."
To which the 'conversus' xviiimakes this reply devoutly upon his knees:
"And I, reverend father, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ receive this habit,
promising as far as in me lies to devote myself to God and, aided by the grace of God
and the kindly prayer of his saints, to follow your precepts faithfully".
[Blessing and Invocation of Holy Spirit]
Then the conversus prostrates himself while the bishop says the following prayers
over him.
"Let us pray.
Defend, O Lord, with thy due compassion this thy servant that he may ever preserve
intact the vow which by thy inspiration he has undertaken. Through our Lord...
Let us pray.
Attend to our prayers, O Lord, that you may vouchsafe to bless this thy servant whom
in thy holy name we have clothed in the religious habit. Grant, of thy generosity, that
he may both stand devout and steadfast in thy Churchxix and also that he may be
worthy to attain eternal life. Through the same..."
Then the bishop, turning towards the East,xx shall intone this hymn:
"Come thou Creator Spirit..."xxi
(The above form may be used thus far for the blessing of widowsxxii).
[The vocation of a hermit was more difficult, with particular trials and a special rule,
and so the order for the blessing of hermits continues with:]
[More Prayers & Blessings]
Then is said [sung]
"Lord have mercy.
Christ have mercy.
Lord have mercy.
Our Father....trespass against us
V. And lead us not into temptation
R. But deliver us from evil. Amen.
V. Grant salvation to thy servant.
R. Who puts his hope in thee, my God.
V. O Lord, send him help from thy holy place
R. And salvation out of Zion.
V. Lord, be to him a tower of strength
R. From the face of his enemy.
V. Lord hear my prayer
R. And let my cry come unto thee.
V. The Lord be with you.
R. And with thy spirit.
C. “Let us pray.
Almighty God, we beseech thee be attentive to thy servant who trusts in thy mercy
and keep him under thy protection so that, freed from all adversities, he may be found
worthy of everlasting blessing. Through Christ the Lord.
O God who restores the offender to righteousness and does not desire the death of a
sinner, we humbly beseech thy majesty that thou protect thy servant .N. who trusts in
thy heavenly mercy. Of thy goodness keep him safe by thy unceasing defence that he
may always remain thy servant and never be separated from thee by any temptation.
Through Christ the Lord.
Almighty and ever-living God have mercy on thy servant and guide him according to
thy kindness in the way of eternal salvation so that, giving himself to thee, he may
desire what pleases thee and bring to perfection every virtue".
Then turning to the conversus, he says
“And may almighty God bless thee and grant thee the grace to live well (in this life)
and bring thee to the life eternal. Through Christ..."
Then the bishop blesses the conversus as he kneels [before him] in these words:
"May almighty God bless thee: Fat + her, Son + , and Holy + Spirit."
[The crosses in the text indicate the threefold sign of the cross made over the kneeling
hermit]
[Instruction on the Rule of St. Paul]
But before the hermit goes away he should be given an exposition of the general lifestyle
of a hermit with some mention of the particular observances that he personally is
to follow.
Firstly, the bishop should enjoin him openly and publiclyxxiii to say the Lord's Prayer,
the Ave Maria and the [Apostles'] Creed so that they might be heard clearly by
everyone [in the xxivchurch?].
Then the bishop should give him instructions about the way in which he should say his
equivalent to the Church's monastic Hoursxxv and the number of prayers which he
should devoutly offer for the salvation of his soul and that of each of his
benefactorsxxvi, namely:
For Vespers he should say the Lord's Prayer twenty times and the same number of
Hail Marys..
His Compline should consist of thirteen Our Fathers and the same number of Hail
Marys.
For his Matins he should repeat both these prayers thirty times; for Lauds, fifteen and
for Prime, twenty-four.
For the other Hours, namely Terce, Sext and Nones, he should repeat them fifteen
times as a substitute for each.
[Like the religious houses, the hermit was held to have a responsibility of praying for
the departed and so he is enjoined:]
On weekdays for his 'Placebo', fifty Our Fathers and Hail Marys; for 'Dirige', thirtythree;
for 'Commendation' twenty-four.xxvii
He should also repeat the Creed thirteen times every day and every nightxxviii and hear
Mass daily.xxix
If the hermit can read [Latin] then he is to say the Hours of the Blessed Virgin
Maryxxx with the seven psalmsxxxi, also the Litanyxxxii with the 'Placebo' and 'Dirige' for
the departed. In addition, he should append to each of these 'Hours' three
Paternosters and three Aves, together with half a Nocturn.xxxiii
In place of the above, the hermit may recite the entire psalter once a day.xxxiv
Because idleness is an enemy of the soul and to prevent the devil's discovering him
without an occupation, the hermit is to provide himself with manual work to fill the
time when he is not at prayer. This may involve the production of food or the
maintenance and repair of roads and bridges.xxxv
During the season of Advent and in the forty and ten daysxxxvi before Pentecost, he
must abstain from meat so that at the end of those fasts he might make his
communionxxxvii after first going to confession. On all Wednesdays he should eat fish
or milk-products [i.e. no meat] while on Fridays he must fast on bread and water
unless he is granted a dispensationxxxviii on account of serious illness or overwork. He
should also fast on Saturdays, satisfying himself with fish.
The wearing of linen [underclothes] is not permitted to hermits (except for the
provision of 'leg-warmers'xxxix. Their footwear is limited to shoes/sandals and they
are not allowed boots.
When his formal ecclesiastical dress has been bestowed by the bishop's arrangement,
then let the hermit depart [to his hermitage] in peace and in the name of the Lord.
BIBLIOGRAPHYAPPENDICES
A. Form for blessing a hermit
B. Form for enclosure of an anchorite
C. The 'Ancrene Riwle' (rule for anchoresses)
D. The Eighth Reading from Rolle Officum.
E. Foxe’s Account of “Hermit of Thirsk”
F. Chronological Distribution
G. Hermit Poetry
H Aelred’s “Letter to his Sister
APPENDICES
a. The Benediction of a hermit (or widow)
b. The Enclosure of an anchorite.
c. The Ancrene Wisse.
d. Richard and Margaret: a Lesson from Rolle’s Legenda.
e. “The Hermit of Thirsk”
f. Chronological distribution.
g.. Hermit poetry.
[i. Latin Texts of a and b.
j. “Rule for Anchorites”
k. Aelred’s Letter to his sister ].
INDICES
i. Names
ii. Paces
Bibliography
A. OFFICE FOR THE BENEDICTION OF HERMITS (and Widows)
(According to the Rule of St. Paul)
My translation of the Latin rite is from a sixteenth century Pontifical used in the
diocese of London (and perhaps Durham), printed in R.M. Clay: The Hermits and
Anchorites of England (London, 1904), Appendix B (pp. 199-202. The whole was
used for hermits following the so-called Rule of St. Paul while the first part, with
appropriate changes of gender, was used for the profession of vowesses. Words
printed within square brackets [...] are not represented in the original.
[Introduction]
The form and manner whereby a man, having been in his heart turnedi from the world
may make his profession as a hermit to the bishop (or his commissary). This
profession should be formalised on some ecclesiastical feast-day [i.e. Holy Day]
designated as the occasion when it will take placeii. On this day, the bishop (vested in
the customary manner for the celebration of High Mass) shall proceed with the
celebration until just before the Gospel.
[The Ceremonies within the Mass]
Then, during the singing of the Alleluia, Tract or Sequence which precedes the
Gospel, the would-be hermit should come forward in a devout manner, dressed in the
conventional habit and carrying over his left arm the scapulariii or other garment
suitable to the hermit's vocation. He should advance, with bare feet, as far as the
altar stepiv and there kneel before the feet of the bishop (or his commissary).
Immediately [after the singing of the Gospel?] the bishop and those standing round
him [in the quire and presbytery] should sing antiphonally the psalm "Miserere mei
Deus, secundum magnam misericordiam tuam"v, followed by the doxology (Glory be
to the Father…).
[Instruction]
When the psalm is finished the bishop, from his chairvi, should speak to the postulant
about the intention to be chaste and examine him about [his understanding of] the
implications of the Rulevii which he is about to accept and the necessity of making a
public profession of his intention. He should also discuss all the matters which to
him seem relevant to the spiritual health of the postulant.
[Profession]
When all this has been done in the light of godly fear the postulant should read his
profession aloud or, if he be unable to read [Latin], he should repeat it after the
bishop. Then the bishop, from his throne, should turn towards the congregationviii
and repeat the profession after the following form:
“I, (name of postulant), unmarriedix, make a vow and promise to God, blessed Mary,
and to all the saints, in the presence of the reverend father in Christ (name of bishop)
of perpetual chastity in accordance with the Rule of St. Paul”.
Then the professed should mark the end of the written vow with the sign of the cross
and hand the document to the bishop before lying prostrate while the bishop says the
following prayers over him:
" Let us pray.
Almighty God, we beseech Thee to be present with this thy servant
(Name) who renounces the pompsx of the world. Open the gates of thy grace to one
who has fled from the despised devil (to fight) under the banner of Christ. Bid him
come to thee to be received with a welcoming countenance so that the enemy might
not triumph over him. Grant him the tireless support of thine arm. Armour his mind
with the breastplatexi of faith that in purity, fortified by thy fortunate defence, he may
rejoice to have escaped the enemy. Through...[Jesus Christ our Lord who with Thee
in the unity of the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth one God for ever and ever.]
Let us pray.
O God who made the children of Israel to sojourn forty years in the desert solitude
when you gave them manna for food, and also brought it about that thy Son lived like
a hermit for forty days and forty nights, and also hast shown thyself pleased that
prophets and saints passed time in the desert, be gracious to thy servant .N. who after
his fashion has chosen a similar kind of life by assuming the hermit's vocation, (grant)
that he may change his behaviour to what is seemly and become fitted by
perseverance to his profession so that he may attain perfection in this way of life and
be worthy to the joys of those made perfect. Through the same...[Jesus Christ etc.] "
The blessing of the habit follows:
V." The Lord be with you”.
R. “And with thy spirit”.
"Let us pray.
O God whose promises of everlasting good things never fail and who art our ever
reliable suretyxii and hast promised to thy faithful the vesture of salvation and the
apparel of joyxiii, we humbly beseech thy clemency that these garments may be a
symbol of a humble heart and contempt for the world by which thy servant gives
visible form to his holy purpose. Vouchsafe, of thy grace, to bl+essxiv them so that he
may maintain through thy protection the habit of chastity that he has put on and that
he whom thou hast dressed in the habit of a revered profession may be forever clothed
in blessed immortality. Through our Lord Jesus Christ who with Thee in the unity of
the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth one God for ever and ever.
O God, the giver of all good things and the generous dispenser of all blessings, hear
our prayers so that this garment with which thy servant clothes himself as a sign of his
dedicated chastity, you may vouchsafe to bl+ess and make holy to the praise and
glory of thy holy name. Through Christ our Lord”.
R. “Amen”.
[The vesting]
Then the bishop sprinkles the garment with holy water and then gives it to the hermit
and as he puts it on he [the celebrant] says:
“May the Lord strip off from thee the old man and clothe thee with the new man who
according to God is created in righteousness and true holiness”.
R. “Thanks be to God".
Then the bishop speaks the following words to the professed if he is lettered [i.e.
knows Latin], otherwise he gives them in the mother tongue:
"Brotherxv, behold we have bestowed upon you the dress of a hermit and, together
with it, we admonish you to live in purity, sobriety and holiness. Pass your time in
vigilsxvi, in fasting, in work and prayer, and in the works of mercyxvii so that you may
possess eternal life and so live for ever and ever. Amen."
To which the 'conversus' xviiimakes this reply devoutly upon his knees:
"And I, reverend father, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ receive this habit,
promising as far as in me lies to devote myself to God and, aided by the grace of God
and the kindly prayer of his saints, to follow your precepts faithfully".
[Blessing and Invocation of Holy Spirit]
Then the conversus prostrates himself while the bishop says the following prayers
over him.
"Let us pray.
Defend, O Lord, with thy due compassion this thy servant that he may ever preserve
intact the vow which by thy inspiration he has undertaken. Through our Lord...
Let us pray.
Attend to our prayers, O Lord, that you may vouchsafe to bless this thy servant whom
in thy holy name we have clothed in the religious habit. Grant, of thy generosity, that
he may both stand devout and steadfast in thy Churchxix and also that he may be
worthy to attain eternal life. Through the same..."
Then the bishop, turning towards the East,xx shall intone this hymn:
"Come thou Creator Spirit..."xxi
(The above form may be used thus far for the blessing of widowsxxii).
[The vocation of a hermit was more difficult, with particular trials and a special rule,
and so the order for the blessing of hermits continues with:]
[More Prayers & Blessings]
Then is said [sung]
"Lord have mercy.
Christ have mercy.
Lord have mercy.
Our Father....trespass against us
V. And lead us not into temptation
R. But deliver us from evil. Amen.
V. Grant salvation to thy servant.
R. Who puts his hope in thee, my God.
V. O Lord, send him help from thy holy place
R. And salvation out of Zion.
V. Lord, be to him a tower of strength
R. From the face of his enemy.
V. Lord hear my prayer
R. And let my cry come unto thee.
V. The Lord be with you.
R. And with thy spirit.
C. “Let us pray.
Almighty God, we beseech thee be attentive to thy servant who trusts in thy mercy
and keep him under thy protection so that, freed from all adversities, he may be found
worthy of everlasting blessing. Through Christ the Lord.
O God who restores the offender to righteousness and does not desire the death of a
sinner, we humbly beseech thy majesty that thou protect thy servant .N. who trusts in
thy heavenly mercy. Of thy goodness keep him safe by thy unceasing defence that he
may always remain thy servant and never be separated from thee by any temptation.
Through Christ the Lord.
Almighty and ever-living God have mercy on thy servant and guide him according to
thy kindness in the way of eternal salvation so that, giving himself to thee, he may
desire what pleases thee and bring to perfection every virtue".
Then turning to the conversus, he says
“And may almighty God bless thee and grant thee the grace to live well (in this life)
and bring thee to the life eternal. Through Christ..."
Then the bishop blesses the conversus as he kneels [before him] in these words:
"May almighty God bless thee: Fat + her, Son + , and Holy + Spirit."
[The crosses in the text indicate the threefold sign of the cross made over the kneeling
hermit]
[Instruction on the Rule of St. Paul]
But before the hermit goes away he should be given an exposition of the general lifestyle
of a hermit with some mention of the particular observances that he personally is
to follow.
Firstly, the bishop should enjoin him openly and publiclyxxiii to say the Lord's Prayer,
the Ave Maria and the [Apostles'] Creed so that they might be heard clearly by
everyone [in the xxivchurch?].
Then the bishop should give him instructions about the way in which he should say his
equivalent to the Church's monastic Hoursxxv and the number of prayers which he
should devoutly offer for the salvation of his soul and that of each of his
benefactorsxxvi, namely:
For Vespers he should say the Lord's Prayer twenty times and the same number of
Hail Marys..
His Compline should consist of thirteen Our Fathers and the same number of Hail
Marys.
For his Matins he should repeat both these prayers thirty times; for Lauds, fifteen and
for Prime, twenty-four.
For the other Hours, namely Terce, Sext and Nones, he should repeat them fifteen
times as a substitute for each.
[Like the religious houses, the hermit was held to have a responsibility of praying for
the departed and so he is enjoined:]
On weekdays for his 'Placebo', fifty Our Fathers and Hail Marys; for 'Dirige', thirtythree;
for 'Commendation' twenty-four.xxvii
He should also repeat the Creed thirteen times every day and every nightxxviii and hear
Mass daily.xxix
If the hermit can read [Latin] then he is to say the Hours of the Blessed Virgin
Maryxxx with the seven psalmsxxxi, also the Litanyxxxii with the 'Placebo' and 'Dirige' for
the departed. In addition, he should append to each of these 'Hours' three
Paternosters and three Aves, together with half a Nocturn.xxxiii
In place of the above, the hermit may recite the entire psalter once a day.xxxiv
Because idleness is an enemy of the soul and to prevent the devil's discovering him
without an occupation, the hermit is to provide himself with manual work to fill the
time when he is not at prayer. This may involve the production of food or the
maintenance and repair of roads and bridges.xxxv
During the season of Advent and in the forty and ten daysxxxvi before Pentecost, he
must abstain from meat so that at the end of those fasts he might make his
communionxxxvii after first going to confession. On all Wednesdays he should eat fish
or milk-products [i.e. no meat] while on Fridays he must fast on bread and water
unless he is granted a dispensationxxxviii on account of serious illness or overwork. He
should also fast on Saturdays, satisfying himself with fish.
The wearing of linen [underclothes] is not permitted to hermits (except for the
provision of 'leg-warmers'xxxix. Their footwear is limited to shoes/sandals and they
are not allowed boots.
When his formal ecclesiastical dress has been bestowed by the bishop's arrangement,
then let the hermit depart [to his hermitage] in peace and in the name of the Lord.




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NOTES
1 Latin “conversus”, hence “convert”.
ii The choice of a Feast Day is not only to emphasise the importance of the occasion by its setting but
also to make it a public one, since all the parishioners are obliged to attend mass on major festivals.
iii The scapular is a sort of loose overall consisting of a long piece of cloth, about 18" (c.45 cms.) wide
with a hole for the head in the centre. It formed part of the regular monastic dress and the Benedictine
Rule prescribed its use when monks were engaged in manual work.
3 A single step divided the presbytery from the quire. It marked the sanctuary or holiest part of the
church.
v Psalm 50. 51 in Anglican and other Protestant numbering.
vi The bishop's official chair was his 'cathedra' and this detail may indicate that the public implications
of a hermit's formal commissioning (which included his right to be supported by almsgiving) were such
that the ceremony was carried out in the chief church of the diocese.
vii On the Rule of St. Paul, see essay in W.J. Shiels, ed. 'Monks, Hermits and the Ascetic Tradition'
(Oxford, 1985).
viii One of many indications of the congregation’s involvement in this ceremony.
ix Unmarried. Ideally, the religious was a virgin but widows and widowers could be accepted.
Chastity was an expected Christian virtue but there was a long tradition that regarded virginity as a
superior state to marriage and holy widowhood as generally preferable to remarriage.
x Here there is a reminiscence of the baptismal promises.
xi Cf. Ephesians vi, 11.
xii On God as the surety for what we owe and the one who freely discharges our xiidebts to Him, cf. the
Lord's Prayer.
xiii Cf., Revelation iii, 5, 18
xiv Here the bishop makes the sign of the cross over the vestment.
xv The bishop addresses the hermit as 'Brother' because he too now belongs to the ecclesiastical state.
xvi Vigils - watching in prayer, keeping prayerfully awake when others are sleeping and interceding to
God on their behalf. Vicarious prayer is an important element in Catholicism.
xvii 'Works of mercy' cover most of what the modern world calls 'charitable' work. The heart of
medieval 'love of one's neighbour' was centred on these, particularly the so-called 'Seven Corporal
Works of Mercy' derived from Matt.xxv, 31ff. with the addition of the burial of the dead.
xviii The 'conversus' was a layman who had abandoned worldly life for that of religion. It was the name
given by the Cistercians to their lay brothers and later adopted by other orders and also applied, as here,
to hermits.
xix Hermits could be 'wild men', standing somewhat apart from the established organisation of the
church. They could be parasites or heretics and in the later medieval period attempts were made by
both church and state to bring them under control by requiring that they be licensed by the bishop. In
1399 the devout Richard II issued a law ordering unlicensed hermits to be punished as vagabonds.
Hence this prayer that the hermit 'devotus in ecclesia persistere'.
xx Churches were orientated; their main axis lay east-west with the altar at the east end. The rising sun
was seen as a symbol of Christ and the east was where he was born as a man, therefore in a sense,
turning to the east is turning to address God rather than the congregation.
xxi 'Veni Creator Spiritus' is the office hymn for Vespers of Whitsunday and may indicate the
appropriate season for the commission of hermits but the hymn was used in much the same way as the
'Veni Sancte Spiritus' (Whitsunday Sequence) i.e. as an invocation for the special help of the Holy
Spirit.
xxii Widows, like hermits, were a recognised 'order' in the church and could be dedicated to that state by
a similar service to that which established hermits. 'Holy widows' (or vowesses) were bereft wives
who took a vow not to remarry and to give the rest of their lives to prayer and works of mercy, usually
from a base within their own home. (It is more than likely that such a widow supported the hermit
Robert of Knaresborough).
xxiii Since these prayers were to be the substance of the hermit's orisons, it was necessary to check that
he had them firmly by heart. Their repetition provided the background to the prayer life of the
Cistercian 'conversi' as well as the (illiterate) lay brothers and sisters of other orders. The public
recitation may be another example of the congregation’s involvement.
xxiv This practice might be seen as a breach of the Dominical injunction against the use of 'vain
repetitions' after a heathen manner, in prayer (Matt. vi, 7). But the church was not ignorant of the
Gospels and the crux is in the word 'vain' (i.e. 'empty'). The repetitions were not meant to be empty but
the shell enclosing a kernel of devoted intention: of union with the prayers of the church at large and of
their direction to a particular aim e.g. the good estate of the living or dead, the well-being of the realm,
thanksgiving for the ministry and death of Christ (associated with particular 'hours'), and so on.
xxv 'Redeeming the time' by prayer did not require literacy or knowledge of Latin. Though the nonclerk
could not cope with the formal 'hours' he could offer a substitute of 'intention' within the
framework of repeated prayers which he had by heart. This system of meditation lies behind the
devotion of the Rosary and a number of non-Christian practises
xxvi The hermit's 'benefactors' were presumably those who provided him with shelter, land, food or
alms.
xxvii These relate to various parts of the Office of the Dead. 'Dirige' (hence our word 'dirge') refers to
the morning office which opens with the anthem (from Ps. v, 8) "Guide my way, O Lord God, in thy
sight..."
"Placebo" has similar reference to the Vespers of the Dead and the 'Commendatio' to the ritual which
took place at the bedside of a dying person (memorably set to music in Elgar's 'Dream of Gerontius') -
"Go forth, Christian soul, in the name of God..."
xxviii The frequent repetition of the articles of the Christian faith is to be a constant reminder and
hopefully a deepening of the 'faith by which we are saved.'
xxix The requirement that he should hear Mass daily may imply that the hermit is a priest (as some
were) but basically it is an obligation that he presents himself at this rite every day. Many hermitages
possessed an altar or were associated with a chapel (cf. the surviving chapel of Our Lady of the Crag at
Knaresborough or the Alnwick hermitage) at which a visiting priest may have arranged a celebration.
Otherwise the hermit would have to present himself at the nearest parish church or chapel of ease for
this daily service (Some hermitages were attached to parish churches).
xxx The 'Hours of the Blessed Virgin Mary' or 'Little Office' was perhaps the most popular layfolk's
service of the Middle Ages and formed the substance of most 'Books of Hours' owned by the laity. It is
modelled on the monastic 'Hours' but is considerably shorter and was made popular by the Cistercians
as part of their devotion to the Mother of God and was later taken over by the secular clergy and
eventually by the laity.
xxxi The 'seven psalms' are the Seven Penitential Psalms intended to induce and represent sorrow for sin.
They were Pss. 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130 and 143. They were used liturgically from early Christian times
and later, in the Middle Ages, they were ordered to be recited on Fridays in Lent after Lauds.
xxxii This is the “Litany of the Saints” a very long intercessory prayer that invokes dozens of saints by
name and asks a number of blessings from God before concluding with Psalm 69 and about a dozen
collects. It is still printed (often in an abbreviated form) in Catholic prayer books
xxxiii A 'Nocturn' is a division of the long night office and usually consisted of twelve psalms together
with associated prayers.
xxxiv The Psalter was fundamentally the church's ancient prayer book and it seems that many Christians
knew it by heart. It provided the main substance of all the monastic offices and therefore to recite it in
its entirety represented a reasonable substitute for the offices themselves. A hermit might well know
the Psalter by heart but might not possess a (costly) book of Hours (though Robert of Knaresborough
seems to have owned one).
xxxv The repair of roads and bridges seems to have been a common responsibility assumed by hermits.
Their hermitages were often located by the side of roads, particularly where they passed over desolate
or difficult country and many were attached to bridges.
xxxvi Advent, like Lent, was in the Middle Ages a normal period of fasting and abstinence but the
requirement that the hermit should also fast during the period between Easter and Pentecost is unusual
and is perhaps intended to emphasise the penitential nature of the hermit's life.
xxxvii Communion was a rare event among the laity of the Middle Ages but canon law required that they
should make their communion at least in Eastertide, i.e. between Easter and Pentecost (Whitsunday).
This event would naturally be preceded by Confession. It almost seems as if the hermit out of
reverence is being required both to prolong his fast and delay his communion.
xxxviii . A dispensation, or permission to break a rule for good cause, could only be granted by a bishop
and this arrangement helped to lock in the hermit to the general jurisdictional system of the church.
xxxix The Latin is 'femoralibus pedulis' which seems to relate to some covering reaching from the thighs
to the feet - a sort of 'puttee' or 'long Johns' ?


R. W. Ackerman & R. Dahood: Ancrene Wisse (Binghampton NY, 1984)
St. Aelred of Rievaulx: Letter to his sister (Eng. Tr.) (London, 1957)
Dialogue on the Soul (Kalamazoo, 1981)
H.E. Allen: Writings ascribed to Richard Rolle, Hermit of Hampole and materials for
his biography (New York and O.U.P. 1927)
Anon: The Pontefract Hermitage (Pontefract, 1880)
P.F Anson: The Quest of Solitude (London, 1932)
Athanasius; Life of St. Anthony, Eng. tr. in R. T. Meyer; Ancient Christian Writers
(London, 1950)
D. Baker, ed.: Sanctity & Secularity (Studies in Church History.10) (Oxford, 1973)
D. Baker, ed:Medieval Women (Studies in Church History, Subsidia 1) (Oxford,1978)
S. Baring-Gould: Yorkshire Oddities (London, 1875)
J. Bazire, ed.: Metrical Life of St. Robert of Knaresborough E.E.T.S. (London, 1953)
Bede: A History of the English Church and People tr. L. Sherley-Price
Harmondsworth,1955)
F. Beer: Women and Mystical Experience (Woodbridge, 1992)
J.A.W. Bennett & D. Gray: Middle English Literature (Oxford, 1986)
Ed. R.L. Benson & G. Constable: Renaissance & Renewal in C12 (Oxford, 1982)
J. Binns: Acetics and Ambassadors of Christ (Oxford, 1994)
F. Bottomley: St. Robert of Knaresborough (Ilkley, 1993)
C. Brook: The Monastic World (London, 1974)
P. Brown: The Rise and Function of the Holy Man in Late Antiquity
(Journal of Roman Studies 6l (1971) pp.80-101,
The Making of Late Antiquity (Harvard, 1978)
W.A. Brown: The History of Mount Grace (Yorkshire Arch. Journal. xviii, 1905).
A. Wallis Budge: The Paradise of the Fathers (London, 1907)
C. Butler: Benedictine Monachism (Cambridge, 1924. Reprinted 1961)
Western Mysticism (London, 1927)
N. K. Chadwick The Age of the Saints in the Early Celtic Church (Oxford, 1961)
D.J. Chitty: The Desert a City (London, 1966)
J.W.Clay, ed.: North CountryWills (Surtees Society 166, 1908).
R.M. Clay: The Hermits and Anchorites of England (London, 1914)
Further studies in medieval recluses (Journ. Brit.Arch. Ass.
Third. series 16(1953)
Some northern anchorites (Archeologica Aeliana, 38, Fourth Series (1955)
I. Colgate: A Pelican in the Wilderness: hermits, solitaries and reclusees (London
2002)
A rather disappointing compilation that inadequately distinguishes hermits
from a rather mixed bag of recluses
E. Colledge: The Medieval Mystics of England (London, 1962)
F. Comper: The Life of Richard Rolle (New York, 1928)
F.M.M. Comper, tr. ed.: The Fire of Love…and the Mending of Life (London, n.d.)
G. Constable: “The Interpretation of Mary and Martha” in Three Studies in Medieval
Religious and Social Thought (Cambridge, 1998)
E.L. Cutts: Scenes and Characters of the Middle Ages (London, 1925)
W. Daniel: The Life of St. Aelred ed. M. Powicke (Oxford, 1925)
F.D.S. Darwin: The English Medieval Recluse (London, 1944)
V. Davis: “The Rule of St. Paul…in late Medieval England”, in W. J. Shiels, ed.
Monks, Hermits and the Ascetic Tradition (Oxford, 1985)
E.J. Dobson: The Origins of Ancrene Wisse (Oxford, 1976)
ed. Ancren Riwle, E.E.T.S. (London, 1972)
R.Dodsworth: A History of Yorkshire (?London, c.1650)
G. Duby: The History of Private Life (London, 1988)
W. Dugdale: Monasticon Anglicanum, ed. J. Caley, et al. (London, 1912)
S. E. Elkins:: HolyWomen of Twelfth Cenbtury England (Chapel Hill, 1988)
D. H. Farmer; The Oxford Dictionary of Saints (Oxford, 1992)
H. Farmer, ed.: The Monk of Farne (London, 1961)
M. L. Faull & S. A. Moorhouse, edd.: West Yorkshire, an archaeological survey
3 vols. (Wakefield, 1981)
G. Fox: The History of Pontefract (London, 1827)
R. L. Fox: Pagans & Christians (London, 1998)
J. Foxe: Acts and Monuments, 3rd. ed. (London , 1870)
P. France: Hermits, the insights of solitude (London, 1998)
A Gibbons, ed.: Early Lincolnshire Wills (Lincoln, 1888)
R. Gilchrist: Contemplation and Action (London, 1995)
M. Glascoe, ed.: The Medieval Mystical Tradition (Woodbridge, 1987)
B. Golding: The Hermit and the Hunter in “The Cloister and the World” ed. J. Blair &
B.Golding (Oxford, 1996)
F.L. Goldthorpe: Franciscans and Dominicans in Yorkshire
(Yorkshire Arch. Journal xxxii,1934-6, pp.264-319, 365-428)
R. Graham: St. Gilbert of Sempringham and the Gilbertines (London, 1901)
W. Grainge: The Vale of Mowbray (Thirsk, 1859)
E.M. Hallam: Henry II, Richard I and the Order of Grandmont
(Journal of Medieval History I (1975), pp.165-186.
L. Hendriks: The London Charterhouse (London, 1889)
G.C. Heseltine, tr: Selected Works of Richard Rolle, Hermit (London, 1930)
G. E. Hodgson, ed. & tr.: Some Minor Works of Richard Rolle (London, 1923)
C.J. Holdsworth: “Christina of Markyate” in Medieval Women, ed. D. Baker, pp.185-
204
C. Horstman: Yorkshire Writers: Richard Rolle of Hampole…and his followers ..
2 vols. (London, 1896)
H.L. Hubbard, tr.: Richard Rolle’s The Amending of Life (London, 1922)
J. Hughes: Pastors and Visionaries (Woodbridge, 1988)
J. Hunter: The History & Topography of the Deanery of Doncaster, 2 vols. (London,
1831)
C. Hutchison: The Hermit-Monks of Grandmont (Kalamazoo, 1989)
J.J. usserand: English Wayfaring Life in the Middle Ages (London, 1961 etc.)
English Essays from a French Pen (London, 1985, repr. 1970)
(includes Aelred’s Rule for Rcluses)
C. Kerry: Hermits, Fords and Bridge Chapels (Derbys. Arch. Journ. XIV (1822)
pp.54-71.
D. Knowles; The Religious Houses of Medieval England (London, 1940)
The English Mystical Tradition (London, 1961)
W. Langland: The Vision of Piers Plowman, tr. I.F.Goodridge (London, 1966)
C.H. Lawrence: Medieval Monasticism (London, 1984)
ed. J. Leclercq et al.: The Spirituality of the Middle Ages (London, 1968)
J. Leclercq: The Love of Learning and the Desire for God (New York, 1962)
J-F Leroux-Dhuys: Cistercian Abbeys (Paris, 1998)
H. Leyser: Hermits and the new monasticism (London, 1984)
Medieval Women (London, 1995)
L. K. Little: Religious Poverty and the Profit Economy in Medieval Europe
( (Cornell, 1983)
A. Louth: The Wilderness of God (London, 1991)
G. Lowe: The Parish Church of St. Mary, Thirsk (Thirsk, 1980)
A.M. Lucas: Women in the Middle Ages (Brighton, 1983)
M.P. McPherson, tr.: Aelred’s Treatises & the Pastoral Prayer (Kalamazoo 1971)
Contains St. Aelred’s “Order of Recluses”.
P. Matarasso: The Redemption of Chivalry (Geneva, 1979)
The Cistercian World (Harmondsworth, 1993)
D. & G. Matthew: The Reformation and the Contemplative Life (London, 1934)
H. Mayr-Harting: Functions of a Twelfth Century Recluse
(History, 60 (1975) pp.337-352.
R.T. Meyer: Ancient Christian Writers; the Fathers in translation (London, 1936)
R. Morris, ed.: Old English Homilies (E.E.T.S., London, 1868)
R. Morris: Churches in the Landscape (London, 1989)
J.A.Nichols & L.T.Shank, ed.: Distant Echoes - (Kalamazoo, 1984)
Medieval Women; The Nun as Anchoress
N.H. Nicolas, ed.: Testamenta Vetusta (London, 1826)
J. Nicholson: 'Feminae gloriosae' in Medieval Women ed. D. Baker (Oxford 1978)
J.M. North: God’s Lovers in an Age of Anxiety (London, 2001)
Succinct introduction to Rolle, Cloud of Unknowing, Hilton, Julian of
Norwich & Margery Kempe.
H. Nouwen, intr.: Desert Wisdom (Edinburgh, 2001)
J. W. Ord: The History of Cleveland (London, 1846)
W.A. Pantin: The Monk-solitary of Farne (Eng. Hist. Review lxi, 1944).
J. Pratt, ed.: The Acts and Monuments of John Foxe (London, 1870)
J. Raine ed.: Testamenta Eboracensia, vols. iv, xxx, xlv
(Surtees Society 1836, 1855, 1864)
W. Riehle: The Middle English Mystics (London, 1981)
R. Rolle: The English Psalter, ed. H. R. Bramley (Oxford, 1884)
The Fire of Love and the Mending of Life, ed. R. Harvey (EETS, London, 1896)
The Incendium Amoris, ed. M. Deanesley (Manchester, 1915)
Meditations of the Life and Passion of Christ, ed.C. V’Evelyn EETS, 1921)
Melos Amoris. Ed. E.J.F. Arnould (Oxford, 1957)
English Prose Treatises, ed. R. Perry (EETS, London, 1886)
English Writings, ed. H.E. Allen (Oxford, 1931)
P. Rousseau: Pachomius (London, 1999)
F. Savage & N. Watson, ed. & tr.: Anchorite Spirituality (New York, 1991)
M.G. Sargent: De Cella in Seculum (Cambridge, 1989)
P. J. Shaw; An Old York Church (York, 1908)
W.J. Shiels ed.: Monks, hermits and the ascetic tradition (Oxford, 1985)
N. Smedley: An incised stone from the free chapel of Ancres
(Yorks. Arch. Soc. Trans. 37, 1948-9)
A. Smith, tr.:Explanation of the Rule of St. Augustine by Hugh of St.Victor (London,
1911)
R. W. Southern: The Making of the Middle Ages (London, 1953)
H. Maynard Smith: Pre-Reformation England (London, 1938)
W. Smith, ed.: Old Yorkshire (5 vols.) (London, 1883-7)
ff. Swaby: Medieval Gentlewoman (London, 2000)
Reconstructs the life of an aristocratic widow.
C.H.Talbot, ed.tr.: Life of Christina of Mrkyate (Oxford, 1990)
J. Taine ed.: Testamenta Eboracensia (Surtees Society, 1836 etc.)
E. Thompson: My Book of Thirsk (Thirsk, 1947)
E.M. Thompson: The Carthusian Order in England (London, 1930)
M. G. A. Vale: Piety, Charity & Literacy among theYorkshire Gentry (1370-1480),
Borthwick Papers, no, 50. (York, 1976)
The Victoria History of the Counties of England, Yorkshire. Vol.iii (London, 1913)
City of York (Oxford, 1961)
East Riding (2 vols.) (Oxford, 1969)
H. Waddell: The Desert Fathers (London, 1936)
J. R. Walbran, ed.: Memorials of the Abbey of St. Mary of Fountains.
(Surtees Society, 1863)
B. Ward: The Sayings of the Desert Fathers (Oxford. 1975)
B. Ward & A. Russell The Lives of the Desert Fathers (Oxford,1974)
A.K. Warren: Anchorites and their patrons in medieval England (Berkeley, 1986)
)
H.W. Wells: William Langland: The Vision of Piers Plowman (London, 1935)
S. Wenzel ed. & tr.: Fasciculus Morum (Pennsylvania & London, 1989)
W. Wheater: ‘Vert and Venison’ in Old Yorkshire,Second Series (Leeds, 1885)
Royal Knaresborough (Leeds, 1905)
: Knaresburgh and its rulers (Leeds, 1907)
T. H. White, tr.: Ancrene Wisse (Harmondsworth, 1993)
C.E. Whiting: Richard Rolle of Hampole (Yorks. Arch. Journ. 37 (1948-51), pp..5-23
T. D. Whitaker The History & Antiquities of Richmondshire, 2 vols. (London, 1823)
The History & Antiquities of the Deanery of Craven (London 1805)
R.M. Wilson, ed.: Sawles Ward (Leeds, 1938)
The English Text of the Ancrene Riwle E.E.T.S., (London, 1954)
C. Wolters, ed.tr.: The Fire of Love of Richard Rolle (Harmondsworth, 1971)
R. Woolley, ed.: The Officium and Miracula of Richard Rolle (London, 1919)
NOTES
1 Latin “conversus”, hence “convert”.
ii The choice of a Feast Day is not only to emphasise the importance of the occasion by its setting but
also to make it a public one, since all the parishioners are obliged to attend mass on major festivals.
iii The scapular is a sort of loose overall consisting of a long piece of cloth, about 18" (c.45 cms.) wide
with a hole for the head in the centre. It formed part of the regular monastic dress and the Benedictine
Rule prescribed its use when monks were engaged in manual work.
3 A single step divided the presbytery from the quire. It marked the sanctuary or holiest part of the
church.
v Psalm 50. 51 in Anglican and other Protestant numbering.
vi The bishop's official chair was his 'cathedra' and this detail may indicate that the public implications
of a hermit's formal commissioning (which included his right to be supported by almsgiving) were such
that the ceremony was carried out in the chief church of the diocese.
vii On the Rule of St. Paul, see essay in W.J. Shiels, ed. 'Monks, Hermits and the Ascetic Tradition'
(Oxford, 1985).
viii One of many indications of the congregation’s involvement in this ceremony.
ix Unmarried. Ideally, the religious was a virgin but widows and widowers could be accepted.
Chastity was an expected Christian virtue but there was a long tradition that regarded virginity as a
superior state to marriage and holy widowhood as generally preferable to remarriage.
x Here there is a reminiscence of the baptismal promises.
xi Cf. Ephesians vi, 11.
xii On God as the surety for what we owe and the one who freely discharges our xiidebts to Him, cf. the
Lord's Prayer.
xiii Cf., Revelation iii, 5, 18
xiv Here the bishop makes the sign of the cross over the vestment.
xv The bishop addresses the hermit as 'Brother' because he too now belongs to the ecclesiastical state.
xvi Vigils - watching in prayer, keeping prayerfully awake when others are sleeping and interceding to
God on their behalf. Vicarious prayer is an important element in Catholicism.
xvii 'Works of mercy' cover most of what the modern world calls 'charitable' work. The heart of
medieval 'love of one's neighbour' was centred on these, particularly the so-called 'Seven Corporal
Works of Mercy' derived from Matt.xxv, 31ff. with the addition of the burial of the dead.
xviii The 'conversus' was a layman who had abandoned worldly life for that of religion. It was the name
given by the Cistercians to their lay brothers and later adopted by other orders and also applied, as here,
to hermits.
xix Hermits could be 'wild men', standing somewhat apart from the established organisation of the
church. They could be parasites or heretics and in the later medieval period attempts were made by
both church and state to bring them under control by requiring that they be licensed by the bishop. In
1399 the devout Richard II issued a law ordering unlicensed hermits to be punished as vagabonds.
Hence this prayer that the hermit 'devotus in ecclesia persistere'.
xx Churches were orientated; their main axis lay east-west with the altar at the east end. The rising sun
was seen as a symbol of Christ and the east was where he was born as a man, therefore in a sense,
turning to the east is turning to address God rather than the congregation.
xxi 'Veni Creator Spiritus' is the office hymn for Vespers of Whitsunday and may indicate the
appropriate season for the commission of hermits but the hymn was used in much the same way as the
'Veni Sancte Spiritus' (Whitsunday Sequence) i.e. as an invocation for the special help of the Holy
Spirit.
xxii Widows, like hermits, were a recognised 'order' in the church and could be dedicated to that state by
a similar service to that which established hermits. 'Holy widows' (or vowesses) were bereft wives
who took a vow not to remarry and to give the rest of their lives to prayer and works of mercy, usually
from a base within their own home. (It is more than likely that such a widow supported the hermit
Robert of Knaresborough).
xxiii Since these prayers were to be the substance of the hermit's orisons, it was necessary to check that
he had them firmly by heart. Their repetition provided the background to the prayer life of the
Cistercian 'conversi' as well as the (illiterate) lay brothers and sisters of other orders. The public
recitation may be another example of the congregation’s involvement.
xxiv This practice might be seen as a breach of the Dominical injunction against the use of 'vain
repetitions' after a heathen manner, in prayer (Matt. vi, 7). But the church was not ignorant of the
Gospels and the crux is in the word 'vain' (i.e. 'empty'). The repetitions were not meant to be empty but
the shell enclosing a kernel of devoted intention: of union with the prayers of the church at large and of
their direction to a particular aim e.g. the good estate of the living or dead, the well-being of the realm,
thanksgiving for the ministry and death of Christ (associated with particular 'hours'), and so on.
xxv 'Redeeming the time' by prayer did not require literacy or knowledge of Latin. Though the nonclerk
could not cope with the formal 'hours' he could offer a substitute of 'intention' within the
framework of repeated prayers which he had by heart. This system of meditation lies behind the
devotion of the Rosary and a number of non-Christian practises
xxvi The hermit's 'benefactors' were presumably those who provided him with shelter, land, food or
alms.
xxvii These relate to various parts of the Office of the Dead. 'Dirige' (hence our word 'dirge') refers to
the morning office which opens with the anthem (from Ps. v, 8) "Guide my way, O Lord God, in thy
sight..."
"Placebo" has similar reference to the Vespers of the Dead and the 'Commendatio' to the ritual which
took place at the bedside of a dying person (memorably set to music in Elgar's 'Dream of Gerontius') -
"Go forth, Christian soul, in the name of God..."
xxviii The frequent repetition of the articles of the Christian faith is to be a constant reminder and
hopefully a deepening of the 'faith by which we are saved.'
xxix The requirement that he should hear Mass daily may imply that the hermit is a priest (as some
were) but basically it is an obligation that he presents himself at this rite every day. Many hermitages
possessed an altar or were associated with a chapel (cf. the surviving chapel of Our Lady of the Crag at
Knaresborough or the Alnwick hermitage) at which a visiting priest may have arranged a celebration.
Otherwise the hermit would have to present himself at the nearest parish church or chapel of ease for
this daily service (Some hermitages were attached to parish churches).
xxx The 'Hours of the Blessed Virgin Mary' or 'Little Office' was perhaps the most popular layfolk's
service of the Middle Ages and formed the substance of most 'Books of Hours' owned by the laity. It is
modelled on the monastic 'Hours' but is considerably shorter and was made popular by the Cistercians
as part of their devotion to the Mother of God and was later taken over by the secular clergy and
eventually by the laity.
xxxi The 'seven psalms' are the Seven Penitential Psalms intended to induce and represent sorrow for sin.
They were Pss. 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130 and 143. They were used liturgically from early Christian times
and later, in the Middle Ages, they were ordered to be recited on Fridays in Lent after Lauds.
xxxii This is the “Litany of the Saints” a very long intercessory prayer that invokes dozens of saints by
name and asks a number of blessings from God before concluding with Psalm 69 and about a dozen
collects. It is still printed (often in an abbreviated form) in Catholic prayer books
xxxiii A 'Nocturn' is a division of the long night office and usually consisted of twelve psalms together
with associated prayers.
xxxiv The Psalter was fundamentally the church's ancient prayer book and it seems that many Christians
knew it by heart. It provided the main substance of all the monastic offices and therefore to recite it in
its entirety represented a reasonable substitute for the offices themselves. A hermit might well know
the Psalter by heart but might not possess a (costly) book of Hours (though Robert of Knaresborough
seems to have owned one).
xxxv The repair of roads and bridges seems to have been a common responsibility assumed by hermits.
Their hermitages were often located by the side of roads, particularly where they passed over desolate
or difficult country and many were attached to bridges.
xxxvi Advent, like Lent, was in the Middle Ages a normal period of fasting and abstinence but the
requirement that the hermit should also fast during the period between Easter and Pentecost is unusual
and is perhaps intended to emphasise the penitential nature of the hermit's life.
xxxvii Communion was a rare event among the laity of the Middle Ages but canon law required that they
should make their communion at least in Eastertide, i.e. between Easter and Pentecost (Whitsunday).
This event would naturally be preceded by Confession. It almost seems as if the hermit out of
reverence is being required both to prolong his fast and delay his communion.
xxxviii . A dispensation, or permission to break a rule for good cause, could only be granted by a bishop
and this arrangement helped to lock in the hermit to the general jurisdictional system of the church.
xxxix The Latin is 'femoralibus pedulis' which seems to relate to some covering reaching from the thighs
to the feet - a sort of 'puttee' or 'long Johns' ?

BIBLIOGRAPHY
R. W. Ackerman & R. Dahood: Ancrene Wisse (Binghampton NY, 1984)
St. Aelred of Rievaulx: Letter to his sister (Eng. Tr.) (London, 1957)
Dialogue on the Soul (Kalamazoo, 1981)
H.E. Allen: Writings ascribed to Richard Rolle, Hermit of Hampole and materials for
his biography (New York and O.U.P. 1927)
Anon: The Pontefract Hermitage (Pontefract, 1880)
P.F Anson: The Quest of Solitude (London, 1932)
Athanasius; Life of St. Anthony, Eng. tr. in R. T. Meyer; Ancient Christian Writers
(London, 1950)
D. Baker, ed.: Sanctity & Secularity (Studies in Church History.10) (Oxford, 1973)
D. Baker, ed:Medieval Women (Studies in Church History, Subsidia 1) (Oxford,1978)
S. Baring-Gould: Yorkshire Oddities (London, 1875)
J. Bazire, ed.: Metrical Life of St. Robert of Knaresborough E.E.T.S. (London, 1953)
Bede: A History of the English Church and People tr. L. Sherley-Price
Harmondsworth,1955)
F. Beer: Women and Mystical Experience (Woodbridge, 1992)
J.A.W. Bennett & D. Gray: Middle English Literature (Oxford, 1986)
Ed. R.L. Benson & G. Constable: Renaissance & Renewal in C12 (Oxford, 1982)
J. Binns: Acetics and Ambassadors of Christ (Oxford, 1994)
F. Bottomley: St. Robert of Knaresborough (Ilkley, 1993)
C. Brook: The Monastic World (London, 1974)
P. Brown: The Rise and Function of the Holy Man in Late Antiquity
(Journal of Roman Studies 6l (1971) pp.80-101,
The Making of Late Antiquity (Harvard, 1978)
W.A. Brown: The History of Mount Grace (Yorkshire Arch. Journal. xviii, 1905).
A. Wallis Budge: The Paradise of the Fathers (London, 1907)
C. Butler: Benedictine Monachism (Cambridge, 1924. Reprinted 1961)
Western Mysticism (London, 1927)
N. K. Chadwick The Age of the Saints in the Early Celtic Church (Oxford, 1961)
D.J. Chitty: The Desert a City (London, 1966)
J.W.Clay, ed.: North CountryWills (Surtees Society 166, 1908).
R.M. Clay: The Hermits and Anchorites of England (London, 1914)
Further studies in medieval recluses (Journ. Brit.Arch. Ass.
Third. series 16(1953)
Some northern anchorites (Archeologica Aeliana, 38, Fourth Series (1955)
I. Colgate: A Pelican in the Wilderness: hermits, solitaries and reclusees (London
2002)
A rather disappointing compilation that inadequately distinguishes hermits
from a rather mixed bag of recluses
E. Colledge: The Medieval Mystics of England (London, 1962)
F. Comper: The Life of Richard Rolle (New York, 1928)
F.M.M. Comper, tr. ed.: The Fire of Love…and the Mending of Life (London, n.d.)
G. Constable: “The Interpretation of Mary and Martha” in Three Studies in Medieval
Religious and Social Thought (Cambridge, 1998)
E.L. Cutts: Scenes and Characters of the Middle Ages (London, 1925)
W. Daniel: The Life of St. Aelred ed. M. Powicke (Oxford, 1925)
F.D.S. Darwin: The English Medieval Recluse (London, 1944)
V. Davis: “The Rule of St. Paul…in late Medieval England”, in W. J. Shiels, ed.
Monks, Hermits and the Ascetic Tradition (Oxford, 1985)
E.J. Dobson: The Origins of Ancrene Wisse (Oxford, 1976)
ed. Ancren Riwle, E.E.T.S. (London, 1972)
R.Dodsworth: A History of Yorkshire (?London, c.1650)
G. Duby: The History of Private Life (London, 1988)
W. Dugdale: Monasticon Anglicanum, ed. J. Caley, et al. (London, 1912)
S. E. Elkins:: HolyWomen of Twelfth Cenbtury England (Chapel Hill, 1988)
D. H. Farmer; The Oxford Dictionary of Saints (Oxford, 1992)
H. Farmer, ed.: The Monk of Farne (London, 1961)
M. L. Faull & S. A. Moorhouse, edd.: West Yorkshire, an archaeological survey
3 vols. (Wakefield, 1981)
G. Fox: The History of Pontefract (London, 1827)
R. L. Fox: Pagans & Christians (London, 1998)
J. Foxe: Acts and Monuments, 3rd. ed. (London , 1870)
P. France: Hermits, the insights of solitude (London, 1998)
A Gibbons, ed.: Early Lincolnshire Wills (Lincoln, 1888)
R. Gilchrist: Contemplation and Action (London, 1995)
M. Glascoe, ed.: The Medieval Mystical Tradition (Woodbridge, 1987)
B. Golding: The Hermit and the Hunter in “The Cloister and the World” ed. J. Blair &
B.Golding (Oxford, 1996)
F.L. Goldthorpe: Franciscans and Dominicans in Yorkshire
(Yorkshire Arch. Journal xxxii,1934-6, pp.264-319, 365-428)
R. Graham: St. Gilbert of Sempringham and the Gilbertines (London, 1901)
W. Grainge: The Vale of Mowbray (Thirsk, 1859)
E.M. Hallam: Henry II, Richard I and the Order of Grandmont
(Journal of Medieval History I (1975), pp.165-186.
L. Hendriks: The London Charterhouse (London, 1889)
G.C. Heseltine, tr: Selected Works of Richard Rolle, Hermit (London, 1930)
G. E. Hodgson, ed. & tr.: Some Minor Works of Richard Rolle (London, 1923)
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NOTES
1 Latin “conversus”, hence “convert”.
ii The choice of a Feast Day is not only to emphasise the importance of the occasion by its setting but
also to make it a public one, since all the parishioners are obliged to attend mass on major festivals.
iii The scapular is a sort of loose overall consisting of a long piece of cloth, about 18" (c.45 cms.) wide
with a hole for the head in the centre. It formed part of the regular monastic dress and the Benedictine
Rule prescribed its use when monks were engaged in manual work.
3 A single step divided the presbytery from the quire. It marked the sanctuary or holiest part of the
church.
v Psalm 50. 51 in Anglican and other Protestant numbering.
vi The bishop's official chair was his 'cathedra' and this detail may indicate that the public implications
of a hermit's formal commissioning (which included his right to be supported by almsgiving) were such
that the ceremony was carried out in the chief church of the diocese.
vii On the Rule of St. Paul, see essay in W.J. Shiels, ed. 'Monks, Hermits and the Ascetic Tradition'
(Oxford, 1985).
viii One of many indications of the congregation’s involvement in this ceremony.
ix Unmarried. Ideally, the religious was a virgin but widows and widowers could be accepted.
Chastity was an expected Christian virtue but there was a long tradition that regarded virginity as a
superior state to marriage and holy widowhood as generally preferable to remarriage.
x Here there is a reminiscence of the baptismal promises.
xi Cf. Ephesians vi, 11.
xii On God as the surety for what we owe and the one who freely discharges our xiidebts to Him, cf. the
Lord's Prayer.
xiii Cf., Revelation iii, 5, 18
xiv Here the bishop makes the sign of the cross over the vestment.
xv The bishop addresses the hermit as 'Brother' because he too now belongs to the ecclesiastical state.
xvi Vigils - watching in prayer, keeping prayerfully awake when others are sleeping and interceding to
God on their behalf. Vicarious prayer is an important element in Catholicism.
xvii 'Works of mercy' cover most of what the modern world calls 'charitable' work. The heart of
medieval 'love of one's neighbour' was centred on these, particularly the so-called 'Seven Corporal
Works of Mercy' derived from Matt.xxv, 31ff. with the addition of the burial of the dead.
xviii The 'conversus' was a layman who had abandoned worldly life for that of religion. It was the name
given by the Cistercians to their lay brothers and later adopted by other orders and also applied, as here,
to hermits.
xix Hermits could be 'wild men', standing somewhat apart from the established organisation of the
church. They could be parasites or heretics and in the later medieval period attempts were made by
both church and state to bring them under control by requiring that they be licensed by the bishop. In
1399 the devout Richard II issued a law ordering unlicensed hermits to be punished as vagabonds.
Hence this prayer that the hermit 'devotus in ecclesia persistere'.
xx Churches were orientated; their main axis lay east-west with the altar at the east end. The rising sun
was seen as a symbol of Christ and the east was where he was born as a man, therefore in a sense,
turning to the east is turning to address God rather than the congregation.
xxi 'Veni Creator Spiritus' is the office hymn for Vespers of Whitsunday and may indicate the
appropriate season for the commission of hermits but the hymn was used in much the same way as the
'Veni Sancte Spiritus' (Whitsunday Sequence) i.e. as an invocation for the special help of the Holy
Spirit.
xxii Widows, like hermits, were a recognised 'order' in the church and could be dedicated to that state by
a similar service to that which established hermits. 'Holy widows' (or vowesses) were bereft wives
who took a vow not to remarry and to give the rest of their lives to prayer and works of mercy, usually
from a base within their own home. (It is more than likely that such a widow supported the hermit
Robert of Knaresborough).
xxiii Since these prayers were to be the substance of the hermit's orisons, it was necessary to check that
he had them firmly by heart. Their repetition provided the background to the prayer life of the
Cistercian 'conversi' as well as the (illiterate) lay brothers and sisters of other orders. The public
recitation may be another example of the congregation’s involvement.
xxiv This practice might be seen as a breach of the Dominical injunction against the use of 'vain
repetitions' after a heathen manner, in prayer (Matt. vi, 7). But the church was not ignorant of the
Gospels and the crux is in the word 'vain' (i.e. 'empty'). The repetitions were not meant to be empty but
the shell enclosing a kernel of devoted intention: of union with the prayers of the church at large and of
their direction to a particular aim e.g. the good estate of the living or dead, the well-being of the realm,
thanksgiving for the ministry and death of Christ (associated with particular 'hours'), and so on.
xxv 'Redeeming the time' by prayer did not require literacy or knowledge of Latin. Though the nonclerk
could not cope with the formal 'hours' he could offer a substitute of 'intention' within the
framework of repeated prayers which he had by heart. This system of meditation lies behind the
devotion of the Rosary and a number of non-Christian practises
xxvi The hermit's 'benefactors' were presumably those who provided him with shelter, land, food or
alms.
xxvii These relate to various parts of the Office of the Dead. 'Dirige' (hence our word 'dirge') refers to
the morning office which opens with the anthem (from Ps. v, 8) "Guide my way, O Lord God, in thy
sight..."
"Placebo" has similar reference to the Vespers of the Dead and the 'Commendatio' to the ritual which
took place at the bedside of a dying person (memorably set to music in Elgar's 'Dream of Gerontius') -
"Go forth, Christian soul, in the name of God..."
xxviii The frequent repetition of the articles of the Christian faith is to be a constant reminder and
hopefully a deepening of the 'faith by which we are saved.'
xxix The requirement that he should hear Mass daily may imply that the hermit is a priest (as some
were) but basically it is an obligation that he presents himself at this rite every day. Many hermitages
possessed an altar or were associated with a chapel (cf. the surviving chapel of Our Lady of the Crag at
Knaresborough or the Alnwick hermitage) at which a visiting priest may have arranged a celebration.
Otherwise the hermit would have to present himself at the nearest parish church or chapel of ease for
this daily service (Some hermitages were attached to parish churches).
xxx The 'Hours of the Blessed Virgin Mary' or 'Little Office' was perhaps the most popular layfolk's
service of the Middle Ages and formed the substance of most 'Books of Hours' owned by the laity. It is
modelled on the monastic 'Hours' but is considerably shorter and was made popular by the Cistercians
as part of their devotion to the Mother of God and was later taken over by the secular clergy and
eventually by the laity.
xxxi The 'seven psalms' are the Seven Penitential Psalms intended to induce and represent sorrow for sin.
They were Pss. 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130 and 143. They were used liturgically from early Christian times
and later, in the Middle Ages, they were ordered to be recited on Fridays in Lent after Lauds.
xxxii This is the “Litany of the Saints” a very long intercessory prayer that invokes dozens of saints by
name and asks a number of blessings from God before concluding with Psalm 69 and about a dozen
collects. It is still printed (often in an abbreviated form) in Catholic prayer books
xxxiii A 'Nocturn' is a division of the long night office and usually consisted of twelve psalms together
with associated prayers.
xxxiv The Psalter was fundamentally the church's ancient prayer book and it seems that many Christians
knew it by heart. It provided the main substance of all the monastic offices and therefore to recite it in
its entirety represented a reasonable substitute for the offices themselves. A hermit might well know
the Psalter by heart but might not possess a (costly) book of Hours (though Robert of Knaresborough
seems to have owned one).
xxxv The repair of roads and bridges seems to have been a common responsibility assumed by hermits.
Their hermitages were often located by the side of roads, particularly where they passed over desolate
or difficult country and many were attached to bridges.
xxxvi Advent, like Lent, was in the Middle Ages a normal period of fasting and abstinence but the
requirement that the hermit should also fast during the period between Easter and Pentecost is unusual
and is perhaps intended to emphasise the penitential nature of the hermit's life.
xxxvii Communion was a rare event among the laity of the Middle Ages but canon law required that they
should make their communion at least in Eastertide, i.e. between Easter and Pentecost (Whitsunday).
This event would naturally be preceded by Confession. It almost seems as if the hermit out of
reverence is being required both to prolong his fast and delay his communion.
xxxviii . A dispensation, or permission to break a rule for good cause, could only be granted by a bishop
and this arrangement helped to lock in the hermit to the general jurisdictional system of the church.
xxxix The Latin is 'femoralibus pedulis' which seems to relate to some covering reaching from the thighs
to the feet - a sort of 'puttee' or 'long Johns' ?


is the “Litany of the Saints” a very long intercessory prayer that invokes dozens of saints by
name and asks a number of blessings from God before concluding with Psalm 69 and about a dozen
collects. It is still printed (often in an abbreviated form) in Catholic prayer books
xxxiii A 'Nocturn' is a division of the long night office and usually consisted of twelve psalms together
with associated prayers.
xxxiv The Psalter was fundamentally the church's ancient prayer book and it seems that many Christians
knew it by heart. It provided the main substance of all the monastic offices and therefore to recite it in
its entirety represented a reasonable substitute for the offices themselves. A hermit might well know
the Psalter by heart but might not possess a (costly) book of Hours (though Robert of Knaresborough
seems to have owned one).
xxxv The repair of roads and bridges seems to have been a common responsibility assumed by hermits.
Their hermitages were often located by the side of roads, particularly where they passed over desolate
or difficult country and many were attached to bridges.
xxxvi Advent, like Lent, was in the Middle Ages a normal period of fasting and abstinence but the
requirement that the hermit should also fast during the period between Easter and Pentecost is unusual
and is perhaps intended to emphasise the penitential nature of the hermit's life.
xxxvii Communion was a rare event among the laity of the Middle Ages but canon law required that they
should make their communion at least in Eastertide, i.e. between Easter and Pentecost (Whitsunday).
This event would naturally be preceded by Confession. It almost seems as if the hermit out of
reverence is being required both to prolong his fast and delay his communion.
xxxviii . A dispensation, or permission to break a rule for good cause, could only be granted by a bishop
and this arrangement helped to lock in the hermit to the general jurisdictional system of the church.
xxxix The Latin is 'femoralibus pedulis' which seems to relate to some covering reaching from the thighs
to the feet - a sort of 'puttee' or 'long Johns' ?


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