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Swiss Flooded With Applicants After Advertising For Hermit

Swiss Flooded With Applicants After Advertising For Hermit

A Swiss council is looking for a hermit to live in a cave after the last hermit announced they were being forced to retire on health grounds.

The only qualification apart from living in a hole is a desire to tend a small garden, and of course dispense wisdom to anyone that might turn up at the Verena Gorge Hermitage, as well as giving courses in meditation three times a week.

The person chosen needs to be fit as to get to the cave you have to follow a tree shrouded stream that winds through the Verena Gorge, to the north of the city of Solothurn in Switzerland.

The name of the hermitage alludes to Saint Verena, who is said to have passed near the area and lived in a cave near Solothurn.

But while that may be the legend, the hermitage is known to have been in existence since the 17th Century. The site at the end of the steep hiking trail in the gorge even features stations of the cross dating from 1613, and the first mention of the region's hermit is in a note written in 1442.

The hermit also gets a wage paid by the local council, that controversially allowed a woman to get the job the last time it was available in 2008. But 68-year-old Verena Dubacher who was the first woman in 600 years to hold the position, had to step down on health grounds after five years as official hermit. Prior to her, the job was held for 25 years by Johannes Leutenegger.

Mayor Sergio Wyniger said: "We were surprised by the amount of interest we had this time round. We have had applications from all over Europe."

He said: "The cave is a protected monument and a valuable part of the region's cultural heritage. The job of hermit is an important one."

The offer closes this week, so applicants will need to hurry if they want to have a chance of being considered, he said.

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