Cell of a recluse with hagioscope in Bro church on Gotland
Cell of a recluse with hagioscope in Bro church on Gotland

A recluse is a person who lives in voluntary seclusion from the public and society. The word is from the Latin recludere, which means "shut up" or "sequester". Historically, the word referred to a Christian hermit's total isolation from the world, with examples including Symeon of Trier, who lived within the great Roman gate Porta Nigra with permission from the Archbishop of Trier, or Theophan the Recluse, the 19th-century Orthodox Christian monk who was later venerated as a saint. Many celebrated figures of human history have spent significant portions of their lives as recluses.

In the Russian Orthodox and Catholic Church tradition, a Poustinik is a temporary hermit who has been called to pray and fast alone in a cabin for at least 24 hours. In ancient Chinese culture, scholars are encouraged to be a public servant in a scrupulous and well-run government but expected to go into reclusion as a yinshi (隐士, 'gentleman-in-hiding') when the government is rife with corruption.[1] Others, like Dongfang Shuo, became hermits to practice Taoism, or in later centuries, Chan Buddhism.

Notable recluses

Main article: List of recluses

See also


  1. ^ Analects 8:13 《論語 · 泰伯》:天下有道則見,無道則隱。Show you talents [through public service] in a well-governed world; go into hiding in dark times (in Japanese).