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The solitary life is a form of [[asceticism]], wherein the hermit renounces wordly concerns and pleasures in order to come closer to the God. In ascetic hermitism, the hermit seeks solitude for meditation, contemplation, and prayer without the distractions of contact with human society, sex, or the need to maintain socially acceptable standards of cleanliness or dress. The ascetic discipline can also include a simplified diet and/or manual labor as a means of support; for example, the early Christian Desert Fathers often wove baskets to exchange for bread.
Ironically, hermits are often sought out for spiritual advice and counsel and may eventually acquire so many disciples that they have no solitude at all. Examples include St. [[Anthony the Great]], who attracted such a large body of followers in the Egyptian desert that he is considered by both Catholics and the Orthodox to be the "Founder of Monasticism." Other religious hermits include St. [[Mary of Egypt]], St. [[Symeon the Stylite|Simeon Stylites]], St. [[Herman of Alaska]], Thomas Merton, St. Sergius of Radonezh, St. [[Seraphim of Sarov]], and Charles de Foucauld.