O Me of Little Faith

O Me of Little Faith

All You Need to Know About Anchorites (Sainthood Preview)

Here’s another dose of advance content from Pocket Guide to Sainthood (Jossey-Bass, 2009). There were lots of really interesting ways to be super spiritual back in the medieval days, from sitting on a pole your whole life (St. Simeon Stylites the Elder) to a lifetime of stumbling around starkers in the wilderness (St. Mary of Egypt), but none may have been more radical than becoming an anchorite. Here’s the entry on “Anchorites” from the glossary chapter.

A special kind of hermit who dedicated himself or herself (in which case she was called an anchoress) to a life of solitude, prayer, and asceticism. But instead of living in caves or the desert, anchorites preferred cozier confines: they walled themselves into a wee little room attached to a local church. Once the cell was ready, the anchorite would enter it in a somber ceremony — somber does seem like an accurate way to describe it — and the local bishop would then permanently brick up the door, sealing the man or woman inside. Afterwards, the anchorite’s only exposure to the outside world would be through a small window for the passage of food and water.


The renowned 14th-century devotional writer, Julian of Norwich, was an anchoress. She was also quite pasty.

Please use it in a sentence or two: Known for their great spirituality and wisdom, anchorites often dispensed advice through their tiny windows. Because if there’s anyone who ought to be telling you how to get along in the world, it’s someone who has willingly reduced their world to a closet.

Not to be confused with: Hermits, otherwise known as free-range anchorites.

Fun related fact: The Ancren Riwle, a 13th century manual for anchoresses, lists eight reasons to retire from the world. These include everything from security issues (“If a raging lion were running along the street, would not a wise person shut herself in?”) to protecting one’s virginity (“…this precious balsam in this brittle vessel is virginity…more brittle than any glass; which, if ye were in the world’s crowd, ye might…lose entirely”). It’s quite convincing.

Comments Post the First Comment »
post a comment

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to and may be used by in accordance with the agreements.

Previous Posts

More blogs to enjoy!!!
Thank you for visiting O Me Of Little Faith. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here are some other blogs you may also enjoy: Red Letters with Tom Davis Recent prayer post on Prayables Most Recent ...

posted 2:25:22pm Aug. 27, 2012 | read full post »

Farewell, O Me of Little Faith
You said you had a big announcement coming today. What is it? The announcement is this: Right now you are reading the final post on this blog. Ever. Ever? Ever. So you're shutting this blog down? Well, I'm going to stop writing ...

posted 6:11:49am Jun. 01, 2011 | read full post »

My Introvert Interview
On Monday, author Adam McHugh delivered a guest post about the "snarling 8-headed monster" of the writing process. Today I return the favor -- sort of -- via an interview at his blog, Introverted Church. We talk about how my introverted ...

posted 3:05:36pm May. 25, 2011 | read full post »

Harold Camping: "Invisible Judgment Day"
When the rapture didn't occur as predicted on May 21, 2011, Harold Camping had a few options. Here is how he could have responded to the failed prediction, in descending levels of crazy: 1. He could announce that he was wrong. This is the ...

posted 9:06:24am May. 24, 2011 | read full post »

The Phases of Writing (Adam McHugh)
If you've ever felt out of place among all the exciting, expressive, emotional enthusiasm of a contemporary church service...or an evangelist's demands that you need to constantly be sharing your faith boldly to strangers...if it simply wipes ...

posted 7:46:00am May. 23, 2011 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.