“Since its creation 350 years ago, the Saalfelden hermitage was inhabited every year. But we don’t have a successor to the last hermit,” said priest Alois Moser.
According to the job description, the successful candidate should have a “connection to Christian belief” and be “at peace with themselves” at 1,400 metres (4,600 feet) above sea level.
Applicants should not expect complete seclusion, however. The hermitage gets a steady stream of visitors coming to “enjoy the view, to pray and to talk,” the advert on Saalfelden’s website cautions. “The applicants need to know that the Saalfelden hermit does not lead a lonely life. Many people come and want to confide in someone. He has to be there for them,” said Moser.
The previous hermit, former priest and psychotherapist Thomas Fieglmueller, returned to Vienna after just one season – the hermitage is only open from April to November – to write.
“Life in the hermit’s cell is spartan, but the nature is very beautiful. I met lots of nice people and had good conversations,” he told the Salzburger Nachrichten daily. “But there was also criticism from apparently arch-conservative Catholics because I didn’t have a cowl or a beard … Maybe I was the wrong person.”
Another thing to bear in mind for those applying – by post only; no emails – in time for the March 15 deadline: the job is unpaid. “We have already had several inquiries, but no formal candidates so far,” Moser said.