The Funeral of a Hermit

Hermit funeral
“We give an illustration of the funeral of a hermit, which is one of a group in a fine picture of “St. Jerome,” by Cosimo Roselli (who lived from 1439 to 1506), in the National Gallery. “It represents,” says the Rev. Edward L. Cutts, in his “Scenes and Characters of the Middle Ages”, “a number of hermits mourning over one of their brethren, while a priest, in the robes proper to his office, stands at the head of the bier and says prayers, and his deacon stands at the foot holding a processional cross. The contrast between the robes of the priest and those of the hermits is lost in the woodcut; in the original the priest’s cope and amice are coloured red, while those of the hermits are tinted with light brown.” It will be observed that he is to be interred without a coffin, which was customary amongst members of religious orders in bygone times.
Yet, since nothing dies, but only all things change, all that was great and good in the hermit spirit has but passed on into other forms, for still we find poets of nature and self-denying souls, and even the hermit form itself may phœnix-life arise again out of the ashes of the frivolity and secularism of the age as an overstrained reaction from the past, as it did of old. Who can tell?”

From “Hermits and Hermit-Cells” by the Rev. J Hudson Barker, BA, in “The Church Treasury of History, Custom, Folk-Lore, etc.”, edited by William Andrews [London: William Andrews & Co., 1898]


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