Father Dario: A Contemporary Maronite Hermit

dario hermit

“It is a steep, stony path leading from a remote part of Bsharri in North Lebanon down into the Qadisha Valley. After about an hour of walking down the dangerous trail, one reaches the place where Father Dario, a Maronite hermit, has chosen to live: the Hermitage of Our Lady of Hawqa, consisting of two small chapels, a study room and a sleeping room, all built into a cave.

Like some others before him, from Lebanon, Ethiopia, Egypt and Europe, Father Dario chose the Qadisha Valley to live a new life – truly new, since nothing here reminds him of his old one. Before he took the decision to become a hermit, Father Dario was a cosmopolitan. Born in La Estrella, Colombia, as one of seven sons, he entered the novitiate of the Congregation of Jesus in Bogota in 1955, later studying theology, philosophy and pedagogy there.
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In 1974, his studies took him to the US and Europe. This was followed by a stint teaching theology and psychology in Colombia, before he returned to Europe where he remained for 17 years, teaching in Spain, France, Germany and Italy. For some time, he was the director of a mental hospital in Colombia.

Father Dario was also well-off, due to an inheritance that came from the early death of his father. Asked whether he missed the luxury of his earlier days, he said he missed nothing. “I don’t miss the money, the farm, the horses, the family, or anything,” he told The Daily Star.
All that remains of Father Dario’s possessions are some garden tools, a heating plate, books and two cassocks: one for work, one for night.

At the age of 55, he decided to become a hermit. “It wasn’t really a choice,” he said. “One day, God called me very clearly.”

The life Father Dario lives today is regulated by a strict schedule and by rules: 14 hours a day reserved for the spiritual life, including praying, two hours for studying, three for work and five for sleeping.

He is allowed to eat only once per day, at 2 p.m., and his meals are all produced from his garden, which is watched over by three scarecrows.

He spends most of his working hours in the garden, which lies a little further down the valley. “I eat beans, potatoes, everything from the garden. I don’t get anything from the outside. Sometimes I give things to the poor because sometimes I have too much,” he said. “Sometimes I go all the way down to the river to go fishing. But I don’t really like fish,” he added. To cook his meals, he has a small electrical heating surface. The electricity for this, as well as the water, come from Bsharri.
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During his study hours he reads, writes and translates. Currently, Father Dario is translating Syriac liturgical books into Spanish. With help from another hermit living in the Qadisha Valley, Father Dario is carrying out the task for Father Tayyah, the original inspiration for his journey toward the life of a hermit (Butros Tayyah is now the Maronite bishop of Mexico).”

Read more: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Local-News/Dec/29/Colombian-priest-turned-Maronite-monk-finds-life-of-solitude-in-Qadisha-Valley.ashx#ixzz2Va5ZBliM
(The Daily Star :: Lebanon News :: http://www.dailystar.com.lb)

See also
http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1849145,00.html
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/expat/expatnews/6386057/Interview-with-a-hermit.html
http://www.reuters.com/article/2007/05/07/us-lebanon-trail-idUSL3046042120070507

and for a video interview with Father Dario

and videos about his life
http://www.tayyar.org/Tayyar/FrontEnd/News/SavePrintNews.aspx?_GUID=A93D94F6-17FD-43FC-AA24-7F7D8649866E&_Print=true

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